Boy witness to slay plot is not afraid to implicate paBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The boy was turning against his own father. “I believe what I am doing is right, so I am not afraid,” he said.
The boy who claimed to have heard of the plot to murder a Pangasinan town mayor on Thursday urged his father, whom he implicated in the crime, to “tell the truth for the sake of justice.”
“I know he is also afraid. His life is also at risk. But I hope that he will soon tell the truth and join me,” said the 16-year-old son of Jaime Aquino, a local journalist and publisher.
The boy surfaced as a witness in the murder of Mayor Ruperto Martinez of Infanta, Pangasinan, who was shot dead in December last year.
The National Bureau of Investigation recently filed murder charges against Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino, Rep. Jesus Celeste and Aquino, based on the teenaged witness’ statements.
The Supreme Court earlier issued a writ of amparo as requested by Aquino, directing the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and Akap Bara Caritas to answer Aquino’s petition.
A writ of amparo is “a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employer or a private individual or entity.”
Aquino claimed that his son’s false testimony had put the entire family in danger.
In an interview with the Inquirer on Tuesday, the boy rebuffed claims that he was not a credible witness.
“I am only telling what I heard and saw. I was not paid or anything like that to testify. If he does not want to let justice prevail, then I will do it alone,” he said.
In his sworn statement, the witness claimed he accompanied his father to a meeting with Espino and Celeste in November 2011 during which he allegedly overheard the plot to kill Martinez.
According to the boy’s statement, Martinez was to be killed because he found about the “itim na bato” (black rock). The boy had no idea what exactly the black rock was.
Shortly after, the boy claimed meeting a certain “Kardo” who would take down the Infanta mayor.
Martinez was murdered a year later in December last year.
The boy claimed that he usually accompanied his father since he was 6 years old.
The teenager said that he had not seen his mother since he was 6 years old, and that she was reportedly in the United States.
The boy claimed that his other siblings were in Baguio City and that he was his father’s constant companion and driver even though he had no license.
He left his father in December 2012 shortly after Martinez’s murder.
He learned of Martinez’s death on Dec. 15 in a TV news report, after which he asked his father if it was the same Martinez that was the subject of the murder plot.
“He told me to keep quiet and not say anything,” the boy recalled.
The boy ran away from home on Dec. 19 after a quarrel with his father, who had told him to deliver a newspaper to a politician.
According to the witness, his life was at risk from the errands that his father made him do.
“I told him, ‘Ayoko na. Anak mo ako, pero mamamatay ako sa ginagawa mo (I give up. I’m your son, but I will die because of what you’re doing),’” the boy said during the interview on Tuesday.
Plea on Facebook
He slipped out of the house and sought refuge at the house of a neighbor who had a computer, which he used to access his Facebook account and post a plea for help on the account of Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza.
“I wrote, ‘Tulungan niyo po ako, pinalayas po ako ng papa ko (Help me. My father wanted me to run away),’” he said.
The boy went to Alcala, Pangasinan, the following day, ending up with a local politician who helped him get in touch with the Akap sa Bata Philippines center.
The boy, who first sought social welfare authorities because of his father’s alleged abuse, is now under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice.
Now in hiding, the witness is closely guarded by authorities.
The teenaged witness said his father sent him several private messages on Facebook, sometime in January, warning him not to divulge what he knew of the plot.
The four messages, dated Jan. 8, also pleaded with the boy to “come home.”
The messages were written in Filipino as the boy said he conversed with his father in that language.
Some of the messages partly read in Filipino: “I love you very much my son, please don’t ever say anything.”
Firm on testifying
Despite the pleas and the danger of testifying against his own father, the boy said he was firm and would not waver in his decision to testify.
“I hope he will join me so the two of us will become witnesses. I know it hurts him to say bad things about me but I accept all of it. He is my father after all,” he said.
Asked why he was turning against his own father, the boy said he was not angry with his dad and that he only wanted to tell what he knew.
“I love my father. I am not angry at him. But I just cannot stand to see him do wrong things,” the boy said.