By CALVIN D. CORDOVA
CEBU CITY – Daanbantayan, Cebu mayor Vicente Loot was ambushed while he and his family were about to dock at a wharf in Daanbantayan town, northern Cebu early morning yesterday.
Loot, a retired police general who was previously accused by President Rodrigo Duterte as a drug protector, was unharmed but his two drivers and the nanny of his grandchildren were wounded.
Arnel Rosario, 47, and Ruben Castañeda, 50, sustained gunshot wounds in the hip, while 26-year-old Jerly Rosel was hit in the right leg.
A porter in the wharf was also wounded.
The attack happened p0ast 7 a.m. while the boat boarded by Loot and his family was about to dock at Maya Port, said Supt. Virgilio Bayon-on, information officer of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO).
Loot was with his wife, vice mayor Malou Loot, and stepson Sun Shimura, a member of the Cebu Provincial Board. Shimura’s wife and their five children were also aboard the pump boat. The Loots came from Malapascua Island where they attended a fiesta last Saturday.
Bayon-on said Loot’s two drivers and the nanny were the first to disembark from the pumpboat. They were walking towards a parked van when two gunmen opened fire.
Bayon-on said 19 empty shells of M-16 rifles were recovered in the area.
The gunmen had three companions, who stayed in a white van that was used as a get-away vehicle.
According to a witness, the license plate of the van bore the digits 5884.
“The witness was not able to get the complete license plate but we are checking if there is a security camera in the area that may have captured the van’s plate number,” said Bayon-on
The wounded victims were rushed to a hospital. Mayor Loot later went to the town police station to report the incident.
Loot was one of the five police generals who were tagged by President as drug protectors.
Loot has denied the president’s accusations.
Vice Mayor Loot, for her part, said she believed that the attempt on their lives had nothing to do with Duterte’s allegations and instead blamed politics as the possible motive behind the attack.
The vice mayor reiterated that her husband was not involved in illegal drug activities.
“Everyone knows that I was the one who has the means. I am the one who has businesses. My husband did not earn a single centavo from illegal drugs,” the vice mayor said.
With the government’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, pinning down Mayor Loot could have been easy, the vice mayor said.
“Until now they don’t have evidence and witnesses against my husband,” said the vice mayor.
Because of the incident, Senior Supt. Manuel Javier Abrugena, director of CPPO, sent additional police personnel to Daanbantayan.