Infanta killing witness' dad wants custody of son

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2013 06:39 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2013 02:39 AM

MANILA - The father of a young witness in the killing of Infanta, Pangasinan Mayor Ruperto Martinez has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order the release of the minor to his custody.

Local newspaperman Jaime Aquino asked the high court to also prevent the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from using his 16-year-old son as a prosecution witness.

The witness claims he has personal knowledge about Martinez's killing.

The witness alleged that Aquino, along with Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino, Jr. and 1st District Rep. Jesus Celeste, planned Martinez's murder at a beach resort in Bolinao, Pangasinan.

His testimony prompted the NBI to file a complaint for murder against his father, Espino, and Celeste.

In his petition, Aquino said his family's safety has been compromised due to his son's testimony.

Since politicians were charged in the case, Aquino said these politicians may think the motive behind his son's testimony is to sabotage their candidacies in the mid-term polls.

Aquino maintained that his son is not telling the truth.

"[B]ecause the alleged testimonies of the minor son are false with more reason that the petitioners are fearing for their lives too," the petition read.

Aquino feared that the NBI may be taking advantage of his son.

"The longer the minor son is being held by the NBI, the more damage will be caused on the intrinsic worth and dignity of their son," the petition read.

However, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, in an interview last week, clarified that although the witness is covered by the justice department's Witness Protection Program (WPP), he remains in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) because he is a minor.

Martinez was killed in front of his house last December 15.

The alleged killers, Ricardo "Kardo" Legarda and Richard Manuel, are detained at the Pangasinan Provincial Jail.