President Benigno Aquino III has instructed Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to investigate the murder of multi-awarded Kabankalan Regional Trial Court Judge Henry Arles, his spokesman Edwin Lacierda said yesterday.
Robredo has formed a task force composed of the police and National Bureau of Investigation, and initial reports indicate the murder was work-related, Lacierda told the DAILY STAR.
The family of Arles yesterday called on the president to ensure that swift action is taken to arrest the assassins and resolve killing to prevent similar incidents from happening with impunity.
Arles was shot three times by an assassin while he was driving home in Ilog town, Negros Occidental, Tuesday night.
“We’re calling on the President and the Secretary of Interior to help us solve the case. I am sure, if this case is resolved right away, this would discourage other criminals from executing judges because they will know they cannot hide, they will be caught,” Ted Britanico, brother-in-law of Arles said.
“Unless this is solved people, will just keep on killing judges and other law enforcers, they will feel they can do whatever they want to do with impunity,” he added.
“We would like an early resolution of the case because we would like the culprits punished,” he said.
Britanico said their family is putting up a sizable reward for anyone who could provide leads to solve the murder of the judge.
The police investigation shows the murder was well-planned, and well-financed, although they still do not have a motive for the killing, he said.
The family yesterday released two National Bureau of Investigation facial sketches of suspected spotters or look-out persons in the killing.
The suspected female and male look-out persons were spotted by witnesses in the vicinity of the Kabankalan Regional Trial Court until the judge left the court house, the police said.
The male suspect is described to be 5 feet 4 inches to 6 inches tall, weighing about 150 lbs., 40 to 45 years old, dark brown in complexion, of the rugged type, speaks Ilonggo fluently and has a tattoo on his left arm.
The female was identified as 4 feet 1 inch tall, 110 lbs., 20 to 25 years old, of brown complexion and also of the rugged type.
“This crime should be resolved swiftly because it will demoralize members of the judiciary. Judges, justices, fiscals will no longer be safe even if they act in accordance with the law,” brother-in-law of Arles, lawyer Rudy Britanico also said.
“This problem extends beyond a family concern, it is a national concern, members of the judiciary must feel safe,” he said.
Rudy Britanico pointed out that Arles had done nothing wrong, he was an honest and untainted judge yet he was killed.
“We want justice, he (Arles) was a judge who was upright and not linked to any corruption.” Ted Britanico said.
Arles never gave any inkling that he had received any threats but they had been concerned at the way he had been handling his security, he said.
We had been encouraging him to get a driver and security since a lot of crimes have been happening in the area where he works, Britanico added.
“But he (Arles) never imagined that he was going die this way because he always told us he feels he has been fair to everyone, why would they run after him,” he added.
SC spokesman and court administrator Midas Marquez yesterday told the DAILY STAR he will speak at the necrological service for Arles at the Rolling Hills Memorial Chapel in Bacolod City tonight.
The judge will be buried at the Rolling Hills Memorial Park Sunday afternoon, Ted Britanico said.
Chief Justice Renato Corona condemns in the strongest possible terms the ambush of Arles, Marquez said.
Corona is urging the law enforcement operatives to immediately go after the assassins and bring them to the bar of justice, Marquez also reiterated.
Arles was appointed to the RTC in 1999 and has no pending administrative case.
He was a multi-awarded judge who was credited with an impressive case disposition record. In 2008 he received the SC Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña Award, and was also awarded by the Rotary Club of Manila, the Judicial Excellence Award by the Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court Judges Association, and the International Star Award by the Knights of Columbus.*CPG