|Jaime Aquino (L) with his son and a media pal|
INFANTA, Pangasinan -- The family of slain Infanta, Pangasinan Mayor Ruperto Martinez yesterday rejected and questioned the motive of a group in arranging a meeting between them and a “self-styled” witness to the Dec. 15, 2013 murder. “Why is it only now--more than four months after the alleged teen-aged witness surfaced—when the case is about to be resolved, that Akap-Bata Foundation is suddenly offering to arrange a meeting between us and the alleged witness?” the Martinez family asked.
The family maintained that they had no connection whatsoever with the Akap Bata, thus the group has no moral ascendancy or obligation to initiate the filing of charges against Gov. Amado Espino and Rep. Jesus Celeste. Akap Bata has reportedly taken custody of the alleged witness who claimed he overheard the respondents plot the hit on Martinez in a resort in Pangasinan. “So what gave them the “(juridical) personality to pick up the cudgels for us, and why did they take it upon themselves essentially to file the case against Governor Espino and Congressman Celeste, without consulting us, or without at least the basic courtesy of informing us about this supposed testimony of a 16-year old minor?,” the Martinezes pointed out.
“If it is true, as they claim, that they took custody of the child witness because he was allegedly abused by his own father, isn’t it highly suspicious that up to now they have not filed a case against the child’s father, in order to protect the interest of the minor, which is supposed to be the main concern of Akap-Bata?,” they noted. “Instead, they have actively pursued the obviously fabricated charges against Gov. Espino and Congressman Celeste,” they added. Reliable sources said Akap Bata was closely associated with Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza who is running for the gubernatorial post against re-electionist Gov. Espino. Braganza’s campaigners reportedly distribute leaflets endorsing Akap-Bata party list along with Braganza’s candidacy.
Martinez’s sons Marvin, and Richard and his wife, Jennifer, the other day called a press conference in Manila supporting Espino’s motion for the outright dismissal of the case on the grounds that it was “pure fabrication”. “Akap Bata should have consulted with us first before going to the NBI and the DOJ to file the complaint, as if they were the aggrieved party,” Richard pointed out.
It may recalled that the Pangasinan police reportedly captured two suspected gunmen hours after the murder, but the issue appeared to have ran into a blank wall, and nothing was ever heard of again about it. The Martinezes have filed a separate murder charge against their father’s political rival, a certain lawyer identified only as Atty. Miano, with the Alaminos Regional Trial Court. “Our quest for justice is being misled by politics. The death of our father has been exploited to promote the political agenda of some people. Worse, those who are most innocent are being framed up and accused while the real masterminds go scot-free and continue to sow deceit and lies at the expense of true justice for the death of our father,” said the Martinez siblings.
The widow maintained that both the governor and the congressman were close allies of her husband under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) party.