ILOG – “The cry of the people is justice".
That was the resounding message on two 20 by 10 feet billboards unveiled in Barangay Manalad here yesterday at the site where Kabankalan Judge Henry Arles was murdered as he drove home in the evening of April 24 last year.
His children, Philip and Ma. Estelita “Ria” Arles, yesterday called on President Benigno Aquino and the Department of Justice to help ensure that justice is attained for their father.
About 2,000 members of his family, friends, co-workers and supporters gathered at Barangay Manalad for the blessing of the site where he was killed, the unveiling of the billboards, and to offer mostly yellow flowers to mark his first year death anniversary.
Earlier in the morning, about 1,000 gathered at the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Kabankalan City for a mass for the judge.
Fr. Ricon Daguob at the mass, and Pastor Cesar Galvez at the blessing of the murder site, both prayed for justice for a man they called a good, honest and just judge.
They also called on those present to continue to pray to the Lord for justice for the judge.
Philip said it is ironic that his father,who worked tirelessly to give the people of the sixth district fair and swift justice, was himself denied it.
He hopes the hearts of those at the DOJ, and the President, will be touched to give priority to his case, Philip said.
Philip also said he is dedicating his life to attaining justice for his father and will never give up until that is achieved.
Ria also told those gathered at the mass that she and her siblings are devoting their lives to fight for justice for “a great father, a dedicated husband and an industrious judge”.
“His death continuous to pain us everyday of our lives,” said a teary-eyed Ria, who thanked those present at the mass for standing by them and giving them courage as they continue their battle.
The judge was a very religious and devout Catholic, she knows God had a reason for his death, “perhaps to prevent something worse from happening,” Ria said.
“We are hopeful that, in due time, we will be able to attain the justice our beloved and dear father deserves,” she said.
Ria said she hopes the government, through Aquino and the DOJ, will be able to resolve the crime committed against her father soon.
“WAKE UP CALL”
Former Ilog Mayor Benigno Gequillana and Judge Leticia Trigue also spoke about their memories of the judge at a short program after the mass.
Gequillana, a family friend of Arles, said the judge was a compassionate man, who disposed swiftly of cases pending before his court.
“He really cared for the people of the sixth district. He was loved and respected by the rich and poor alike,” Gequillana said.
It is unfortunate that the judge’s potential for greater service was suddenly cut off by hired men, which shows the deteriorating peace and order in Ilog and the sixth district, he said.
“It was more unfortunate that the officials, whom we expected to lead us to greater heights in Ilog, the sixth district and the province, would be the suspects,” Gequillana said.
But the time of reckoning will surely come because God works in mysterious ways, Gequillana said.
The murders of Judge Arles and his nephew, Councilor Antonio “Karem” Gequillana, is a “wake-up call to the people of Ilog, the sixth district and the province to choose sincere, peaceful, trustworthy and God-fearing officials,” the former mayor said.
Posters were seen in Ilog yesterday calling for justice for the death of Karem Gequillana, too.
Named as respondents in the complaint for the murder of the judge filed before the DOJ are Negros Occidental Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., Ilog Mayor Paul Alvarez, Cauayan Vice Mayor Jerry Tabujara, Ilog government employee Emmanuel “Eman” Medez, and members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.
All of the accused have denied involvement in the murder of the judge.
Trigue, former clerk of court at the Kabankalan RTC then headed by Arles, said she owes her position as a judge to Arles, who inspired her to strive to become one.
She said Arles was a hardworking and honest judge, who was a good father to his staff and inspired all of them.
Trigue said her earnest prayer is that justice will be attained for Judge Arles.
From the Kabankalan Cathedral, participants proceeded to Barangay Manalad for the blessing of the site where the judge was killed. There were about 2,000 people, among them his 88-year-old mother Estelita Arles.
The mother said she misses her son and hopes that justice will be attained for him.
Also present was the judge’s other son, lawyer Albert Arles.
The two billboards unveiled at the murder site bear the photo of the judge and the message: “This is where just and fair Judge Henry R. Arles was killed, the cry of the people is justice”.
Billboards calling for justice for the judge were also seen in Kabankalan City yesterday.*CPG