MANILA - After having been implicated in the illegal numbers game jueteng, Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino, Jr. now finds himself facing murder charges for the death of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez.
The charges against Espino and Pangasinan 1st District Rep. Jesus "Boyong" Celeste were filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday.
Martinez was shot in the head and neck by 2 assailants in front of his house at Barangay Cato in Infanta last Dec. 15. The alleged assailants, Ricardo "Kardo" Legarda and Richard Manuel, are currently detained at the Pangasinan Provincial Jail in Lingayen.
In a transmittal letter on behalf of Akap sa Bata ng mga Guro Kalinga Philippines, the NBI pointed out that a 16-year-old male witness has personal knowledge about Martinez's killing.
The witness alleged that respondents planned Martinez's murder with his father, Jaime Aquino, at a beach resort in Bolinao, Pangasinan, reportedly owned by Celeste. Mr. Aquino was also recommended for indictment for the crime of murder.
"It was there that witness... heard Gov. Espino saying that Mayor Martinez should be killed in order to prevent the latter to implicate them with respect to 'itim na bato (mineral).' He also heard Congressman Celeste reply that they should not worry since they have someone who will kill Mayor Martinez," the transmittal letter read.
'Itim na bato' reportedly refers to nickel found in the area.
The gunman later turned out to be "Kardo," whom the witness claims to have also met.
The witness executed his affidavits in the presence of representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). He left his home last December due to his father's alleged physical abuse.
The witness also claimed he has personal knowledge of the killing of Kagawad Jovencia Gasmin of Barangay San Juan, Alcala, Pangasinan and Kagawad Nato Sabangan of Bayambang, Pangasinan.
Sought for comment, Pangasinan provincial administrator Rafael Baraan, speaking on behalf of Espino, said: "We have not yet received a copy of the complaint and therefore we have no basis for making any statements at this point."
Espino and Celeste are members of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC).