CA: Witness vs Pangasinan gov safe with gov’tBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied a petition for an amparo writ by the parents of a 16-year-old state witness, saying the boy, key witness in a murder case against the governor of Pangasinan and several others, is safer in the hands of government social workers.
The 17th division of the court dismissed for lack of merit the petition filed by Jaime and Ester Aquino against the National Bureau of Investigation and the Akap Bata Caritas, a group working for children’s protection.
The boy has submitted to the NBI a sworn statement implicating Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino, his own father and Pangasinan Rep. Jesus Celeste in the Dec. 15, 2012, murder of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez.
The boy said he overheard Espino and Celeste plotting the murder of Martinez in a meeting attended by his father in a Pangasinan beach resort in 2011.
The NBI filed a murder complaint against Espino, Celeste and the boy’s father in February.
The boy is now in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development after he was turned over by the nongovernment organization Akap Bata, which had initial custody of him when he fled his home.
The Supreme Court earlier issued a temporary writ of amparo for the boy but had remanded his parents’ petition for an amparo writ to the appellate court.
In a 10-page ruling on Monday, the appellate court said evidence provided by the boy’s parents “falls much short of proving the allegations in their complaint.” The parents alleged that the boy’s life is in danger in government custody.
The ruling, penned by Associate Justice Sesinando Villon, said the boy is safer in government custody.
“There is no proof that the respondents are responsible or accountable for violating or threatening the right to life, liberty and security of [the boy],” said the decision.
“In fact, petitioners’ fears appear to come from parties which were not even impleaded in this case,” it added.
Villon, in the ruling, also noted that the boy fled his home and had filed a child abuse case against his father. The boy, Villon’s ruling said, “will be exposed to actual and imminent danger” if he stayed at home.
The appellate court also took note of the judicial affidavit of the boy’s father after his lawyer admitted in court last month that he was the one who prepared the affidavit based on an online conversation with the boy’s father.
The court said it “can never be sure if it was Jaime (the boy’s father) himself who responded to the counsel’s queries or if he was coached by someone else.”