The family of slain Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles, who was laid to rest at the Rolling Hills Memorial Park in Bacolod City at noon yesterday amid a 21-gun salute, announced that they are offering a P1 million reward for information that could lead to the arrest and indictment of those responsible for his assassination.
The mechanics for the payment of the P1 million reward to civilians or law enforcement agents who may solve the murder of Arles is expected to be completed today, Arles’ brother-in-law Ted Britanico, told the DAILY STAR yesterday.
The payment of the reward will be done by the family in consultation with the government agencies involved in the investigation into the death of her father, lawyer Ma. Estelita "Ria" Arles said.
The P1 million from the Arles’ family is on top of the P200,000 reward being offered by the Supreme Court from the Philippine Judges Foundation, Britanico said.
Arles was driving home in his green Nissan Sentra along the highway in Ilog town in the evening of April 24 when a gunman on board a tricycle fired three shots from a .45 caliber pistol into the tinted glass on the driver's side, killing him.
Close to a thousand relatives, friends and colleagues of Arles yesterday joined his funeral where calls for prayers that the terrible crime committed against him be resolved soon were made.
The police have narrowed down the suspects to three different possible masterminds, with two suspected of having the judge slain for his refusal to accept bribes to rule in their favor, Britanico said.
All suspects are people the judge had dealt with in the line of work, he said.
Britanico said there are also three persons suspected of having actually carried out the crime and they expect to have their identities in less than seven days. Two of them are believed to be from the sixth district of Negros Occidental, while one may be from Iloilo but they are not so sure, he added.
With the reward, they hope witnesses will come forward not only to pinpoint the culprits, but to bring them to justice, Britanico said.
“We are very, very serious in solving this because we are convinced that he (Arles) had not done anything wrong. If he was executed by these criminals it is because they just did not like the way he decided their cases and since they could not bribe him, they might as well get rid of him so that someone else they can bribe can take over,” he said.
Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, Negros Occidental police director, said the reward could hasten the resolution of the case. The police is currently pursuing several leads and searching for the male and female shown in facial sketches by the National Bureau of Investigation based on descriptions by witnesses, Guisihan said.
Arles died helpless and defenseless, Fr. Felix Pasquin, who was the main celebrant at his funeral mass, said.
Arles, who had been a volunteer lawyer of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod before he became a judge, was a righteous man, Pasquin also said.
A battery of speakers after the mass lauded Arles for being a good, honest and multi- awarded judge, and an excellent father and husband.
His daughter and youngest child, Ria, called for prayers that the crime committed against her father be resolved soon.
She said the injustice and abuse committed against him must be solved, not just for their family but for society to prevent it from having a chilling effect on other honest and fair judges.
The life of her father was snuffed away by "somebody who wanted his way but could not get it because Judge Arles would not bend", she said.
“It was done by someone so evil who would end my father's life and cause us so much pain that will never heal,” she said.
She said her father was the perfect father who taught them to value integrity, honesty , fairness and love of God.
“My father was my life, no other person can equal him, but God has his reasons for taking him away,” she said.
The only consolation she can think of, she said, is her father is now with her mother, Susan, who died of cancer three years ago and whom he deeply missed.
The judge is survived by his children Ria, Albert, Philip, and Henry and Rebekka Arles, and their son Jose Antonio.
Other speakers at the necrological rites for Arles yesterday morning were his nephew Lucas Britanico, cousin Jojo Ealdama, brother Antonio Arles Jr., friends Judge Renato Munez and former Rep. Monico Puentevella, former Rep. Salvador Britanico, brother-in-law Frank Britanico, and grandson Jose Antonio Klaus Arles.*CPG