Case versus suspects in Martinez slay try to continue
ALBERTO “PASTOR” Martinez, 57, one of the few broadcasters who survived an assassination try, would have wanted to finish the fight.
He wanted to see the case versus his suspected assassins, one of them an Army corporal, reach its conclusion despite alleged offers for him to drop the charge.
He died last week, January 15, with justice nowhere in sight.
Martinez was paralyzed from the waist down after he survived the attempt on his life in the evening of April 10, 2005 in the village of Osias, Kabacan town, Cotabato province.
He was a broadcaster of the Manila Broadcasting Company’s 101.5 Hot FM, and was placed under the justice department’s Witness Protection Program.
Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) legal counsel Prima Jesusa Quinsayas — who serves as a private prosecutor in the Martinez case against Obregon and Quinones — was distraught upon learning that he had passed away.
“The case will continue; we hope it will will be submitted for decision within the first half of this year,” she said.
“Naiyak ako nung sinabi sa akin ng isang taga-Witness Protection Program na sumakabilang buhay na si Martinez. Malapit na matapos ang kaso pero hindi na nakayanan ng katawan niya, pero alam ko desidido siya tapusin ang laban (I cried after someone from the Witness Protection Program told me that Martinez had already died. We expect the case to be finished soon but his body gave out; I know he was determined to finish the fight),” Quinsayas told the PCIJ, Wednesday.
She added Martinez was supposed to testify on Tuesday, January 27, as part of the prosecution’s rebuttal evidence.
Martinez, who also served as a pastor for the Church of God in Kabacan, was able to identify the people who were allegedly behind the attack—his neighbor Ronilo Quinones, local trader Romeo Araneta and Alvaro Obregon, an Army corporal, whom he said pulled the trigger.
He filed frustrated murder charges against the three suspects in September 2005. But the Kabacan Regional Trial Court (RTC) started hearing the case only in 2007.
The bullet from the assassin’s gun shattered his lower spine and lodged in his liver, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Quinsayas said WPP staff told him that Martinez was rushed to the hospital after he complained that it was hard to breath. Doctors declared him dead upon arriving at the emergency room.
Defense lawyers for Obregon and Quinones presented their case before the Kabacan RTC only on September 2011 — six years after Martinez was shot.
Quinones is currently out on bail.
Obregon was able to present the court with an alibi as his commanding officers in the Philippine Army declared that he was on a mission in Sulu when the assassination attempt happened.
Obregon is still on active duty in the Army.
Araneta was never charged in court but has been in hiding since the trial began.
Martinez is survived by his wife, Geraldine, and two children.
His remains are at the Villa Jusa Funeral in Barangay Osias, Kabacan and will be interred this Saturday, January 24.
“Kung ano po ang judgment ng mga judge, wala na po akong magawa. Ang dios na ang bahala,” Martinez had said in a PCIJ documentary.— Cong B. Corrales, PCIJ, January 2015