MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice is mourning over the “untimely demise” of Cavite Provincial Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco, whom Justice Secretary Leila de Lima described as “one of the standout members of our National Prosecution Service.”
Velasco, son of former Interior Secretary, Cavite Gov. and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Epimaco Velasco, died on Monday after suffering a heart attack. He was 54.
“He was a passionate and tenacious type of prosecutor … and we are really saddened by his death,” De Lima told reporters.
She said she had recently tasked Velasco to look into the controversy involving NBI agents who were arrested by Cavite police near the compound of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. in Bacoor City in Cavite.
“It was too early [for him] to leave this world,” said De Lima, who was to attend his wake Monday night at the family residence in Tanza, Cavite.
As Cavite provincial prosecutor, Velasco made a reputation as an intrepid litigator for handling high-profile cases that ended with convictions.
Among his more celebrated cases was the 2009 conviction of former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste for the murder of Leviste’s aide Rafael de las Alas.
“He was a very strict boss but he loved to joke around when outside of work,” said 2nd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Rosa Elmina Villarin who had worked with Velasco for six years.
No to bribes
She said Velasco earned his credibility among state prosecutors when he once turned down a half-million-peso bribe. “People came to know him as the graftbuster,” she said.
Velasco, a former reporter for Malaya, died after suffering a heart attack at around 3 a.m. on Monday. His family and coworkers, who saw him only last week easing election day tensions between the Cavite police and NBI agents at the residential compound of Revilla, were surprised by his sudden death.
‘He was very much OK’
“I was surprised because he seemed very much OK. He joked around and was very happy when we proclaimed the winning candidates last week,” said Cavite Commission on Elections Supervisor Arnulfo Pioquinto, who was with Velasco during the canvassing of the votes.
Velasco obtained both his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts major in Economics degrees from the University of Santo Tomas (UST). He had a Master in National Security Administration degree from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Master of Laws degree from the UST Graduate School, where he graduated magna cum laude.
Velasco was a senior state prosecutor when he took part in the investigation of missing activist Jonas Burgos.
He was also a member of the state panel that filed rebellion charges against now Sen. Antonio Trillanes and other Magdalo mutineers for the 2007 Peninsula Manila standoff.
Velasco was appointed Cavite prosecutor in 2007. Cavite 1st Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Onofre Maranan will take over the post until the Department of Justice shall have appointed a new prosecutor for Cavite.
He is survived by his wife and two sons. His remains lie at the family residence in Barangay (village) Bucal, Tanza, Cavite. The elder Velasco is now 78 and also stays at the family residence.