Lingayen- - -Provincial Administrator Rafael Howard F. Baraan took umbrage against officials of the DSWD regional office in La Union for allegedly deceiving the boy’s mother on the true situation of Jestin Aquino, the alleged lone witness in the slaying of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez, December last year.
This developed after the young boy’s mother (Ester Aquino) went to the DSWD regional office last December 3 to visit her son after almost a year of separation but failed to see him.
“Instead of simply allowing the mother to see her son, they are muddling the issue by resorting to diversionary tactics,” Baraan said in an interview with the local media last December 10.
It can be recalled that the 17-year old witness escaped from his “detention cell” in Camp Crame last November 25 and returned to Pangasinan on the same day to retract his former statement and speak the truth about the alleged planning of Martinez’s murder that linked Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr., Pangasinan 1st District Rep. Jesus “Boying” Celeste, Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane and his own father, Jaime Aquino last year.
In his recantation executed in his own handwriting, Aquino confessed he was coerced into signing an affidavit he claimed to have been prepared by lawyer Bodie Pulido, a losing candidate of the Liberal Party in the first district of Pangasinan.
He revealed Pulido conspired with former Alaminos City mayor Hernani Braganza, a losing gubernatorial candidate of the Liberal Party, to concoct a fantastic story that would implicate Gov. Espino et al as the mastermind in the murder of Mayor Martinez.
After meeting with the governor and Cong. Celeste to personally extend his apology, the minor-witness was turned over to the municipal social welfare and development office (MSWDO).
Because the MSWDO-Lingayen has no facility to accommodate the minor, he was brought a day after to DSWD’s regional office in La Union.
The provincial administrator stated that he, along with the mother’s lawyers, accompanied Ester Aquino to the DSWD regional office in an effort to have mother and child reconciled after months of separation.
“Neither the mother nor her lawyers were given access to the child, nor allowed the simple privilege of taking a glimpse at the young boy even for a minute,” Baraan lamented, even as he said the DSWD officials assured them of the kid-witness’ safety under the agency’s custody.
Puzzled and worried over the turn of events, the mother of the young boy appealed to Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman to allow her to see her son and “provide him the love and care of home this Christmas.”
Manifesting in open court, DSWD assistant regional director Marilyn Peralta informed RTC-Branch 57 judge Renato Pinlac that Aquino was brought to the DSWD national capital regional office in Manila at 11 a.m. last December 3, contrary to what ARD Peralta promised Jestin’s mother that Peralta would keep Jestin in her office compound, and not to bring the boy anywhere else. (PIO/Ruby R. Bernardino)