Pangasinan guv, congressman face murder raps-A A +A
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
PANGASINAN Governor Amado Espino is facing murder charges at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the death of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez last December 15.
The case, which also tagged Pangasinan Representative Jesus Celeste, came nearly two months after Espino was implicated in the proliferation of illegal numbers game, jueteng.
Martinez, reportedly a supporter and friend of Celeste and Espino, was shot in the neck and head in front of his house by two motorcycle-riding gunmen while he was being interviewed over the phone by a television reporter in Dagupan City.
The alleged killers, Ricardo "Kardo" Legarda and Richard Manuel, are presently detained at the Pangasinan Provincial Jail in Lingayen.
In a transmittal letter to the DOJ by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Nonnatus Rojas, the agency gave weight to the testimony of a 16-year-old male witness, who allegedly overheard his father, Jaime Aquino, discussing with Celeste and Espino the plan to kill Martinez.
The witness said the plan was hatched at the El Pescador Beach Resort in Bolinao, Pangasinan.
"It was there that witness... heard Governor Espino saying that Mayor Martinez should be killed in order to prevent the latter to implicate them with respect to 'itim na bato (nickel).' He also heard Congressman Celeste replied that they should not worry since they have someone who will kill Mayor Martinez," the transmittal letter read.
Celeste called the case "ridiculous" since he even helped Martinez's family to find justice.
"Noong nakaburol na si Mayor Martinez, lumapit sa akin ang pamilya niya at humihingi ng tulong. Kaya naman sumulat ako agad sa NBI requesting them to investigate this (During the wake of Mayor Martinez, his family came to me asking for help. I immediately wrote a letter to the National Bureau of Investigation requesting them to investigate the case)," he said in phone interview.
"Pero one week ago, ipinaalam sa akin ng pamilya ni Mayor Martinez na ipinatawag daw sila ni Colonel Chan dahil meron daw bagong findings. Na meron daw bata na anak ng isang mamamahayag sa Pangasinan na tumatayong testigo at itinuturo kami (One week ago, the family of Mayor Martinez informed me that they were called by Senior Supt. Chan because of a new findings. A journalist son allegedly came forward to stand as witness and tagged us in the murder)," he added.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Marlou Chan, Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) officer-in-charge, said that he indeed talked to the mayor's family.
"Kinausap ko lang sila (I talked to them) and told them about the parallel investigation being conducted by the NBI. But that's beside the point. The point is, I didn't produce the witness," he said.
The witness, who executed his affidavit before representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said he also have information on the murder of killing of Councilor Jovencia Gasmin of San Juan village in Alcala town and Councilor Nato Sabangan of Bayambang, Pangasinan. (Virgil Lopez/Liway C. Manantan-Yparraguirre/Sunnex)