A GROUP called Pangasinan Muna identified with Liberal Party (LP) gubernatorial candidate Hernani Braganza, Espino’s opponent in the May election, said in a press statement that the NBI witness is “very credible.”
The press statement quoted Justice Secretary Leila De Lima in an interview on national television saying “According to the NBI, very credible po ‘yong witness.”
“Ang triggermen diyan ay nakakulong na at kinasuhan na, hindi alam dati kung sino yong mga mastermind, and this 16 year old provided the answer,” De Lima said.
The alleged assailants, Ricardo “Kardo” Legarda and Richard Manuel, supposedly bodyguards of Celeste, are currently detained at the Pangasinan Provincial Jail in Lingayen.
The press statement quotes the young witness as saying he heard the governor say “Mayor Martinez should be killed in order to prevent him from implicating us with respect to itim na bato,” supposedly referring to a controversial mining pier project in Infanta.
The young witness also reportedly claimed he saw Celeste meet with Kardo again in the same place on December 14 last year, a day before Martinez was shot dead.
LP officials in Pangasinan said in a statement that if proven guilty, Espino and Celeste should be jailed.
“They should be meted out the maximum penalty if found guilty,” said Oscar Lambino, former vice governor and LP-Pangasinan spokesman.
But Celeste’s legal counsel, Atty. Jojo Segundera brushed aside the accusation saying “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what the agenda is.”
“There is a procedure, there is a mechanism for us to defend the good congressman and the good governor against this baseless accusation,” Segudera said.—with Eva Visperas and Johanne R. Macob