Ex-mayor shot dead inside Cebu hospital

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) — The former mayor of Medellin town in Cebu was shot dead by unidentified armed men inside the Bogo-Medellin Medical Center on Tuesday night.

Medellin police chief Audie Pelayo said at least 15 armed men barged into the private hospital where former Mayor Ricardo Ramirez, now a town councilor, has been on hospital arrest since 2017.

The hospital is located some 115 kilometers away or about a three-hour drive north of Cebu City.

Ramirez was arrested in July 2017 after authorities discovered several unlicensed firearms during a raid in his home in Caputatan. He served as mayor for nine years and was tagged by the police as a "high-value target" in the illegal drug trade. Police found drug paraphernalia during the raid, but no illegal substances.

On the night of June 18, Pelayo said four vehicles arrived at the hospital and disarmed the security guards there, including the jail guard assigned to Ramirez's room. The armed men also took the mobile phones of the hospital staff.

Four of the 15 armed men then called for a nurse to accompany them to Ramirez's room. It is believed that the former mayor was with his son’s girlfriend and the jail personnel when he was shot, according to the police.

Ramirez ran to hide in the washroom, but the gunman followed him there and shot him several times. Around 35 slugs from an M4 assault rifle and a pistol were found inside the room, police said. Authorities also discovered an "improvised tooter and burner" said to be used for drugs inside the hospital room, but said it was unclear if these were owned by the mayor or belonged to the masked men.

No other person was shot. The police said they are investigating the incident.

On Wednesday, the Cebu Provincial Police Office created a Special Investigation Task Group to fast-track the probe, and coordinate with the Bureau of Jail and Management Penology since Ramirez is in its custody. P/LTCol. Eloveo Marquez, who will head the task force, said they are looking at all angles including illegal drugs.