Asturias barangay chief, wife shot dead; PJ seeks swift probe

MOTORCYCLE-RIDING assailants shot and killed Manguiao, Asturias Barangay Captain Mario Tundag, 57, and his wife Edna, 49, on Tuesday morning, March 14, 2023.

Following the incident, the Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) has launched a manhunt for the killers, as both Cebu Third District Rep. Pablo John “PJ” Garcia and Asturias Mayor Dana Andrew “Dongkoy” Dumdum sought justice for the slain couple.

The couple were on board their motorcycle and were passing by the Poblacion Central Elementary School in the western Cebu town of Asturias when they were shot several times.

The incident, which happened around 9 a.m., was captured on the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area.

The footage shows two men on board another motorcycle approaching the victims’ motorcycle.

The passenger of the other motorcycle is seen suddenly shooting the Tundags. He and the driver then leave the scene, heading for the neighboring town of Balamban, while the Tundags fall to the ground.

According to Lt. Col. Mark Gifter Sucalit, CPPO deputy director for operation, they have initiated a dragnet, or ordered a large number of police officers to search the mid-north portion of the province to find and catch the assailants.

Sucalit said investigators of the Asturias Police Station are pursuing many angles behind the killing, including personal and business.

He said they are also not discounting politics, especially with the barangay elections set to take place this October.

“We are looking to see if he has enemies. Of course, we will look into his work as a barangay captain, and then the last thing we will look into is the upcoming election,” he said.

Sucalit said the CCTV footage is being checked again to see if there are any clear videos to identify the gunman and the driver of the other motorcycle.

He said they want to solve the crime as soon as possible with the help of the public, especially those who witnessed the shooting or saw the faces of the assailants.


Major Alden Zambrano, chief of the Asturias Police Station, said they have received reports that the barangay captain quarreled with some people.

He said they will also interview the victims’ relatives to check if Mario had received threats to his life.

“Our main focus is the political angle. However, we will also look into reports that the barangay captain had enemies,” he said in Cebuano.

Zambrano said the shooting was well planned, based on the CCTV footage.

One of Mario’s friends told Superbalita Cebu that the victim had received many death threats.

The barangay captain was arrested in 2017 after police raided his house and found several unlicensed long firearms.

Swift probe

Representative Garcia called for a “swift and thorough investigation” into the incident.

“This is a shocking incident not only because it happened in Asturias, a peaceful municipality in Cebu’s third district, but also because it was along the national highway in the center of town just outside where school children sat in their classrooms,” Garcia said in a statement.

“The killers of Kap Mario and his wife must be brought to justice because not only is he a public official, the couple now leaves behind six orphaned children,” the congressman added.

For his part, Asturias Mayor Dumdum posted on his Facebook page Monday, “Justice must prevail, protect the public servants!”

Dumdum expressed his condolences to the family of the couple as he posted a photo of himself meeting with Asturias police chief Zambrano and CPPO Director Police Colonel Rommel Ochave due to the murders.

Series of attacks

Last Feb. 24, a spate of attacks against public servants prompted Philippine National Police Chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. to order police regional offices to conduct threat assessments on all government officials in their respective areas.

Over the course of seven days, three local government officials had been ambushed in separate incidents. Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. was attacked on Feb. 17 in Kalilangan, Bukidnon; Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda on Feb. 19 in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya; and Datu Montawal Mayor Ohto Montawal on Feb. 22 in Pasay City.

Alameda was killed, while the other two survived.

But the killings have continued.

San Carlos Barangay Captain Vivencio Palo was shot dead in Lipa, Batangas on Feb. 26, while Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight other people were killed on March 4 in Degamo’s house in Pamplona town.

On March 9, the Special Investigation Task Group Degamo tagged Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. as the mastermind in Degamo’s killing. (GPL / PJB, CTL / SunStar Philippines)