TACLOBAN CITY, August 23 (PNA) -– The legal counsel of embattled Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa was gunned down Tuesday afternoon in this city.

The local police identified the victim as Atty. Rogelio Bato. Also killed was Angelica Bonita, 15, a high school student who was with the lawyer inside the Toyota Hilux during the incident.

The shooting took place in Lumbang 2 village, this city around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

Sr. Supt. Rolando Bade, city police chief, said the two victims suffered multiple gunshots when perpetrators riding a white van without plate number, opened fire at them using caliber 45 and M-16 rifle.

Bade said the city police launched manhunt operations against the suspects, adding that they are still facing a blank wall on the motive of the killing.

“We still need to conduct investigation if the incident is related to illegal drugs,” he added.

In previous interviews, Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, Eastern Visayas police regional director, confirmed that Bato is one of the professionals being probed for their alleged link to illegal drugs trade.

Bato has been the

legal counsel of Espinosa family. He reportedly helped in the dismissal of several drug-related cases of Kerwin, the mayor’s son.

He also provided legal services to some drug personalities in Eastern Visayas region.

City Mayor Cristina Romualdez, who immediately proceeded to the crime scene, condemned the killing and urged authorities to conduct thorough investigation.

Romualdez commended the national government’s efforts to eradicate illegal drugs, but said this should not involve killing, especially of innocent civilians. (PNA)