The parents of a 16-year-old boy who claimed to have heard the plot to kill a Pangasinan town mayor two years ago have asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to reconsider its June 17 ruling denying their petition for a writ of amparo and the release of their son to their custody.
In a 21-page motion for reconsideration filed Friday before the appeals tribunal’s Former 17th Division, newspaper publisher Jaime Aquino and his wife, Ester, said their “natural and primary” parental authority over their son should not be denied by the court, adding that their son’s testimony was being used as “political propaganda” by rival politicians in Pangasinan.
“There is no legal justification to keep the minor from his parents whose right to custody over their son is inviolable and there is no clear and convincing evidence to overcome this inviolable right,” the spouses said in their motion filed by their counsel Berteni Causing.
The Aquinos said that no less than the Constitution and the Family Code upholds the primacy and inviolability of the authority and custody of parents over their minor children, which may only be revoked or transferred by court order.
The boy was allegedly a witness to the plot to murder Mayor Ruperto Martinez of Infanta town, who was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2012.
Through the boy’s testimony, the NBI filed complaints against reelected Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr., 1st District Rep. Jesus Celeste and Jaime Aquino. The boy claimed that he was with his father in November 2011 when he heard Celeste allegedly order somebody to kill Martinez.
The Court of Appeals had rejected the writ of amparo and parental custody sought by the Aquinos, saying that the couple had only made mere allegations that were not proven and that the boy was safer under the government’s care.
The spouses, in their motion, insisted that the respondents—the National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Capital Region, Department of Justice and the nongovernment organization Akap sa Bata ng mga Guro Kalinga Philippines—had no basis to continue holding on to the boy merely because he was a witness to the murder plot against Martinez.
The three government agencies and the NGO also failed to disprove their claim that the boy was being neglected by them, the Aquinos added. The boy said that he ran away from home after being beaten by his father, but the Aquinos said that their son had initially sought refuge with a mayoral candidate who had run against a son of one of the persons he had implicated in another murder.
The Aquinos blamed the camp of Espino’s rival, Hernani Branganza, for using their son for their “political ambitions.”
The spouses also reiterated their concern about the safety of their son while in government custody, as well as for their own and their other children’s safety from the supporters of the politicians implicated by the boy.
It was also unlikely, the Aquinos said, that a father would bring his son to a discussion of murder plots and for the plotters to discuss their plans in front of a minor and a stranger who was “more prone to squeal.”