|Kin of slain journalists continue to search for justice|
|Written by Ronalyn V. Olea|
|Tuesday, 05 May 2009 13:34|
Kevin Jorge Esperat vividly remembers how his mother Marlene was killed inside their home in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat more than four years ago.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Kevin, 17, recalls that day, March 24, 2005. “Kumakain kami kasama ng isa ko pang kapatid nang binaril siya sa loob ng bahay.” (We were eating our meal when my mother was shot inside our home.)
Kevin says the assailant bought cigarettes from their small store before entering the house. He said the man even greeted them “Maayong gabi-i” (Good evening) before pulling the trigger.
He added, “Iyong bumaril, nasa tabi ko lang. Dinig na dinig ko ang putok. Halos hindi na ako makarinig. Yumuko ako, pagtingin ko uli, wala na. Hinabol ko pa sa labas, di ko na naabutan.” (The triggerman was just beside me. The gunshot was deafening. I ducked; and when I looked up, he had already left. I tried to run after him but he was already gone.)
Kevin then went back to his mother. “Sa ulo pala tama niya. Akala namin madadala pa namin sa ospital, dead on the spot na.” (She was hit in the head. We thought we could still bring her to the hospital but she was dead on the spot.)
The gunmen were convicted of murder in 2006, but the alleged masterminds are still at large.
Kevin hopes the masterminds would be convicted soon. “Nabalewala mga naunang warrant, mapera at maimpluwensiya [sila].” (The warrants of arrest issued in the past were ignored; they [suspects] are rich and influential.)
In 2005, then Tacurong Regional Trial Court Branch 20 dismissed for lack of evidence the murder charges against the two suspected masterminds in the Esperat murder: Osmeña Montañer and Estrella Sabay.
Montañer and Sabay worked at the Department of Agriculture (DA) as Region 12 Finance Officer and Regional Accountant, respectively. Esperat wrote exposés of corruption in the DA and had filed several administrative cases against several DA officials including the two.
On April 7, 2009, Judge Milanio Guerrero of RTC Branch 30 in Tacurong City denied the motion to dismiss the case filed by Montañer and Sabay.
The motion was submitted by their lawyer Emmanuel Badoy on October 21, 2008, right after the court issued an arrest warrant against them.
Without a mother
Until now, Kevin finds it difficult to live without a mother. “Masakit kasi mahirap mawalan ng nanay. Wala kang masabihan ng gusto mong sabihin.” (It is painful to lose a mother. You lose the person you could confide to. )
Kevin described her mother as a dedicated journalist. “Priority niya talaga trabaho niya pero may panahon siya para sa amin.” (Her job was her priority but she also spent time with us.)
Now an incoming sophomore at the University of Immaculate Conception in Davao City, Kevin said his inspirations is his mother. He is a consistent dean’s lister, taking up Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.
“Sinusubukan naming ipagpatuloy ang buhay,” (We’re trying to go on with life.) the teenager said.
Losing a husband
Like Kevin, Gloria Cuesta is still coping with the loss of her husband Dennis.
Radio broadcaster Dennis Cuesta of General Santos City was on his way home when two motorcycle-riding gunmen shot him five times with a .45 caliber pistol on August 4, 2008. He died five days after the attack.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Gloria said she and children are still experiencing difficulties living without Dennis.
“Pinagkasya na lang namin kung anong meron,” (We just live within our means.) Gloria said. The widow works as an employee of the Social Security System in Digos.
Gloria said the scholarship program of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines’s (NUJP) has been a big help.
The couple has six children: Mitzie, 13; Jasper Adrian, 11; Angelica, 9; Kristine, 7; Dennis I, 5; and Khamille, 3.
Gloria said her children were affected by the death of their father. “Apektado talaga, lalong-lalo na ang mga lalaki. Wala nang ganang mag-aral,” (The children are really affected, especially the boys. They lost their drive to study.) she said, her voice quivering.
“Idol nila tatay nila,” (They idolized their father.) she continued, wiping her tears. “Ngayon, nakaka-recover na.” (Slowly, they are recovering.)
Gloria said their youngest daughter, Khamille, still asks for her father.
The widow described her husband as a responsible and principled man. “Kaya nga siguro siya namatay dahil sa prinsipyo niya.” (Probably that is the reason why he was killed, because of his principles.)
Update on the case
Gloria is hoping that the suspects in the killing of her husband would be arrested soon.
On April 7, General Santos City Regional Trial Court Branch 37 Judge Panambulan Mimbisa issued the warrant against accused Police Inspector Redempto “Boy” Acharon, an alias “Gerry”, and several John Does in the killing of Cuesta. No bail was recommended.
Earlier, another RTC judge revoked the February 3 warrant of arrest issued against Acharon and several other suspects after the city’s RTC Executive Judge ordered the case to “be included in the regular raffling of cases . . . and to be considered as a newly filed case.”
Acharon and the other suspects remain at large.
100 journalists killed
Kevin and Gloria are only two of the families of 100 journalists killed since 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
The NUJP held a gathering for the families of slain journalists in time for the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3. Bulatlat.com