|DON'T DRAG GOV. ESPINO AND REP. CELESTE. This was |
what the widow , son, and daughter -in-law of Martinez cried against the political
opponents of Espino and Celeste during the February 13 press conference.
This was the curt reaction of Pangasinan Rep. Jesus “Boying” Celeste of the province’s first district to news reports linking him, along with Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. to the killing of Infanta (Pangasinan) Mayor Ruperto Martinez last Dec. 15 of last year.
The two government officials were tagged as “masterminds” in a report of a team from the central office of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) submitted to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, according to the news reports.
“This is ridiculous. Our political foes have gone desperate in their character assassination to improve their acceptability rating in the forthcoming May local elections,” former Rep. Arthur Celeste, a younger brother of the incumbent congressman, told the media yesterday.
The Celeste brothers questioned the credibility of the NBI report which, according to them, was “based merely on hearsay, on a testimony of one single alleged witness of minor age who comes from a broken family.”
“The NBI recommendation is sweeping and uncalled for. It is more of a publicity stunt orchestrated by our political rivals to besmirch our reputation,” they said.
The former solon who is running for mayor in this city against Lean Braganza, son of Mayor Hernani Braganza who is seeking the gubernatorial post against reelectionist Gov. Espino, urged the Justice department to be more prudent in looking into the veracity of the NBI report and the allegations of the witness identified as Jestin Aquino, a stowaway and first-year high school dropout from Bayambang, Pangasinan. “The late mayor Martinez was a close friend and reliable ally. He always came to us for support to serve better his constituents,” Celeste said, as he pointed out that the slain mayor was never engaged in black stone mining as alleged by Jestin.
“There’s no black stone quarry in Infanta,” he added. Meanwhile, Crisanta Martinez, widow of the slain mayor, appealed to the authorities and other concerned parties not to use the murder of her husband as an issue in the political campaign. “It’s very bitter and painful for us, especially to link Cong. Celeste and Gov. Espino, our most reliable political benefactors to the killing,” she said. Jennifer Martinez, daughter-in-law of the late mayor, told the media their family was informed two weeks ago about “latest development on the killing” by Pangasinan Police Director, Sr. Supt. Marlou Chan who advised them to go to the NBI office in Manila to know the progress of the case. “When informed (at the NBI Special Task Force) that Cong Celeste and Gov. Espino are involved, we were dismayed and left for home because we believe they are innocent,” she said. In the same press conference, Rep. Celeste vehemently denied knowing Richard Manuel, alias “Kardo,” one of the two arrested suspected gunmen in the killing of Martinez who was identified in the news reports as Celeste’s bodyguard. “I never knew him (Kardo) from Adam and I don’t employ armed bodyguards,” he said. According to the news reports, the witness Aquino claimed to have heard the Celeste brothers and Espino discussing about a plan to liquidate Martinez in a resort in Bolinao town. “That’s fantastic,” exclaimed Celeste. “How could we talk about an assassination plot in the presence of other people, especially that of a minor?” he added. (PIO).