Pangasinan governor, congressman face murder raps

Purple S. Romero

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This is in connection with the December 2012 killing of Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation filed a murder case against Pangasinan Gov Amado Espino Jr. and 1st District Rep. Jesus “Boyong” Celeste on Tuesday, February 12 in connection with the December 2012 killing of Infanta, Pangasinan Mayor Ruperto Martinez. 

The NBI charged Espino and Celeste with “instigating and plotting” Martinez’s murder after a witness came forward and said he was present in a November 2011 meeting where Espino, Celeste, Zambales Gov Hermogenes Ebdane and newsman Jaime Aquino allegedly talked about killing Martinez because of his knowledge of the “black rock” or the quarrying of nickel. The case was filed before the Department of Justice.

Espino is seeking re-election in the 2013 polls. He is running against Hernani Braganza of the Liberal Party, the political party of President Benigno Aquino III. Celeste is also gunning for a second term.

Both Celeste and Espino are from the Nationalist People’s Coalition. The LP and NPC have an alliance in Pangasinan, as NPC is headed by Aquino’s uncle Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. 

Espino earlier said the issues being raised against him are politically motivated, adding his opponents are exhausting all means to bring him down.

Based on the NBI charges, Ebdane allegedly said that Espino should “take care” of the situation involving Martinez because they were both from Pangasinan. The witness said Espino, Celeste and Aquino then proceeded to Celeste’s El Pescador Beach Resort where Celeste tasked a certain “Kardo” to make sure Martinez is dead.

Celeste then allegedly gave Aquino P100,000 as his share in the illegal numbers game jueteng. The witness said Kardo was ordered by Celeste on Dec 14, 2012 to check if Martinez was still alive. On the 15th, Martinez’s death was reported in the media.

The witness added that aside from Martinez’s death, Aquino and his “bosses” also ordered the killing of Jovencia Gasmin, a barangay official in San Juan, Alcala, Pangasinan. Gasmin’s death was allegedly planned in June 2012 in the farm of Engr. Reynaldo Mencias, father of Alcala Vice Mayor Ryan Mencias. The elder Mencias allegedly told Espino he will have Gasmin killed because he was blocking the quarrying activities in Alcala. 

Gasmin was reported dead on June 8, 2012. Espino, the witness claimed, ordered Aquino to write in his news reports that the death was plotted by Manuel Tolentino, Mencias’s rival for the mayoral position. –

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