‘Narco-councilor’ murdered

A MUNICIPAL councilor in Ginatilan, southwestern Cebu who was allegedly involved in drug trafficking was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside the town hall past 12 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

Ginatilan Police Station Chief P/Lt. Lito Tadique said they responded to the crime scene after they heard the gunshots, but they failed to capture the perpetrators who fled onboard a vehicle after killing Councilor Maria Liza Berongan Toledo. The police station is on the ground floor of the two-story municipal building.

Duterte’s list

Toledo, a first-term local lawmaker, was reportedly included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of narco-politicians, someone in Camp Crame who is privy to the information told Superbalita Cebu.

Toledo’s name in the list is Maria Liza Dumaboc. But Superbalita Cebu’s source in Camp Crame said in a mix of Tagalog and English: “Maria Liza Toledo and Maria Liza Dumaboc are the same person.”

The councilor’s alleged supplier was her former live-in partner Norbert Antiquando, who is an inmate at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. In 2006, a local paper reported that a Cebu City court convicted Antiquando and his three cohorts of killing a Japanese national in 2001.

Antiquando reportedly financed the candidacy of Toledo in the May 2019 elections.

President’s ally

Toledo ran under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, or PDP-Laban, the party of President Duterte. She ran for vice mayor in Ginatilan in 2010, and for mayor in 2013 and 2016, but she was always defeated by her rivals.

Cebu Police Provincial Office Director Roderick Mariano and Tadique said in separate phone interviews that they still had to check the information that Toledo had been involved in drug trafficking.

Toledo reportedly supplied drugs to pushers operating in Ginatilan and in its neighboring towns.

Tadique said they still had to establish the motive behind the fatal attack. But a person who held a grudge against the victim could have plotted the murder, he said.

Sad

Ginatilan Mayor Dean Michael Singco expressed sadness over Toledo’s murder, adding that his office and the Municipal Council still had to decide on the ways they could mourn her death, one of which could be the lowering of the Philippine flag to half-mast at the Municipal Hall.

He said he had not received reports about Toledo’s alleged illegal activities.

Singco said Toledo went on leave from October to December in 2019 as she was sick during these months.

Attending session

Before she was attacked, Toledo in Filipiniana dress had attended the council’s regular session Wednesday. A review of the town hall’s security camera showed Toledo walking just a few steps from the building with a companion before the attack occured.

The closed-circuit television camera captured only the victim. Toledo was rushed to the Malabuyoc District Hospital, where she was declared dead at 2:35 p.m.

Looking for witnesses

Tadique said they will look for the persons who saw the culprits and the getaway vehicle. Mariano ordered him to conduct a thorough investigation by checking the contents of the councilor’s cell phone and interviewing her relatives, who might have knowledge of any threats on Toledo’s life.

“We will check her background,” Mariano said. (AYB & WBS / KAL)