THE Office of the Ombudsman indicted Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr. and his two political allies in connection with a standoff during the 2010 national elections.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio affirmed the recommendation of the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor to charge Junie, Bogo City Vice Mayor Santiago Sevilla and lawyer Jose Carlo Martinez with grave coercion.
The respondents’ alleged act of barring the complainants from moving and searching their vehicles was a “display of material force, which necessarily produced intimidation, and in effect, controlled the will of the complainants,” said Morales in her review.
Sun.Star Cebu tried but failed to get the mayor’s comment on the anti-graft body’s decision. Calls and text messages sent to his mobile phone were left unanswered yesterday.
The case stemmed from the criminal complaints filed by Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu, fourth district) and his relatives and supporters for arbitrary detention and grave coercion against the Martinezes in connection with a standoff last May 10, 2010.
The Martinezes and their supporters allegedly blocked Salimbangon’s convoy, after hearing accusations that their lawyers were threatened in a barangay in the neighboring town of Medellin.
In October 2010, Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Raul Cristoria found probable cause to charge the mayor, the vice mayor and the lawyer, along with several unidentified persons, with grave coercion.
Cristoria said the respondents “were actually interested in having the complainants’ vehicle searched for loose firearms” by placing obstacles on the road last May 10 in Barangay Polambato, Bogo City.
Meanwhile, Cristoria dismissed the arbitrary detention complaint filed against Junie, Sevilla, defeated congressional candidate Celestino “Tining” Martinez III, former congresswoman Clavel Asas-Martinez, lawyers Jose Carlo, Ahmad Clay Escolar and several unidentified persons.
Cristoria also dismissed the complaint for usurpation of authority and official functions Salimbangon filed against Tining.
A complaint for grave coercion against Clavel, Tining and Escolar was also dismissed for lack of evidence.
Citing Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code, Ombudsman Morales said that grave coercion is committed when a person who, without authority of law, shall, by means of violence, prevent another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compel him to do something against his will, whether it be right or wrong.