Archive for May 20, 2009

Murder victim’s family want Gonzalez’s ruling

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc, The Philippine Star, May 20, 2009

Filipinos traditionally end mourning a dearly departed after a year. But there will be no babang luksa on Friday for the family of the late vice mayor Ramon Rojas Jr. of Ajuy, Iloilo. Instead they will mark the first anniversary of his violent death with pain and frustration. Justice continues to elude the young murder victim’s kith and kin. While one of two hit men has confessed to the crime, the mastermind roams free. Allegedly that man is Vicente Espinosa, a.k.a. Etik or Bulldog, scion of a powerful political clan.

“It’s not because of poor police work,” says provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada. “In fact the cops did a commendable job tracking down the gunmen to their hideout in Butuan City sometime Sept. 2008.” Alleged triggerman Edgar Cordero and getaway driver Dennis Cartagena had shot it out with the encircling lawmen. Cordero died in the firefight; wounded Cartagena recounted in detail Espinosa’s pulling the contract, the stakeout, and the eventual hit.

Nor is the case dragging due to family disinterest. The Roxases have been pressing Espinosa’s indictment not only for the killing of their relative but also the abduction, rape and murder of his employee. The Iloilo press closely is watching both cases.

Justice has not been served because province mate Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez is sitting on it, Mejorada and the victim’s cousin Joji Rojas lament. Earlier the police had amended the murder rap to include Espinosa. Five months later Provincial Prosecutor Bernabe Dusaban, rejecting Carta-gena’s sworn confession, dropped Espinosa’s indictment for weak evidence. Early last March the Roxases filed with Gonzalez a motion to reverse the dismissal. There in his office it pends to this day.

Pleading with Gonzalez is a long shot. Iloilo newspapers report that the Espinosas are the justice secretary’s political allies. A first cousin of the “mastermind” is a frequent travel companion of Gonzalez, Joji Roxas avers. Alliances are at the core of Philippine politics. Gonzalez has declared plans to run for mayor of Iloilo City. He was once Iloilo congressman; his junior now holds the seat. Dusaban is the same head prosecutor whom Gonzalez had upheld in dismissing drug charges against the Balasan Boys last year, the same time the Alabang Boys were hitting the headlines.

In late March provincial board member Jett Rojas, another cousin, told newsmen that Gonzalez was about to rule on their motion. At once Espinosa’s lawyer announced having received word from the justice department that the suspect would be exonerated with finality. Still, no ruling has come. “Gonzalez does not seem inclined to act on it, because it would displease his political allies,” Mejorada says. “This is the tragedy of the Philippine justice system. Just because one man refuses to act on a case, the suspected mastermind of a cruel murder remains scot-free. On the other hand, those who earn Gonzalez’s ire are likely to be assaulted with the full force of the law.”

* * *

Friends of NGO and micro-business advocate Joy Bacon are holding a benefit concert to help raise funds for her needed open-heart surgery. Pol Galang, Aiza Seguerra, and Chikoy Pura will lead the performers in “JOY-ous Celebration of Life” on Friday, May 22, 6-9 p.m. Venue: ’70s Bistro on Anonas Road, Project 2, Quezon City. Tickets available at the gate.

Joy, 43 and mother of one, was rushed to the Heart Center in March due to difficulty in breathing. Confined for four days, she was found to be suffering from five ailments and complications that require surgery if she is to survive the year. The surgery would cost nearly a million pesos.

* * *

The National Irrigation Administration has scrapped its contentious purchase of P1.4 billion worth of backhoes. Officially, the reason of the NIA board is that, with the onset of rainy season, it is too late to buy heavy equipment for repair of irrigation canals. Unofficially, NIA chairman and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap didn’t want to prolong Sen. Mar Roxas’s potentially embarrassing public inquiry into the flawed bidding. More so since it could hamper his planned congressional run in May 2010.

Word from the education office is that Sec. Jesli Lapus’s “internal review” of the P700-million noodles controversy might lead to similar bid cancellation. Lapus has made known his intention to run for senator.

All this is too bad for midnight dealmakers. But then, shouldn’t the frustrated plunderers be brought to justice just the same? Attempted murders, kidnappings and thefts are as criminal as consummated ones.

* * *

E-mail: jariusbondoc@workmail.com

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May 20, 2009 at 12:14 am Leave a comment


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