SHERWIN DE VERA
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — The family of murdered RTC Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez said his death should encourage more people to pursue truth and justice despite the risks.
The Bañezes expressed their wish during the tribute organized by non-government organizations from the Cordillera and Ilocos on November 11 at the victim’s wake.
“Even though he died this way, at least we know he died for a cause, for truth and justice,” said Lumina Bañez, mother of the slain magistrate.
The 91year-old Bañez said the death of her son should challenge the people to seek justice and resolution to spate the killings, especially to the members of the judiciary.
Meanwhile, the late judge’s son, Darryl Lance, said that despite the pain the family is now bearing, the love and respect contained in the messages they are receiving from the people give them comfort.
“Ang iniisip ko din lang ang tumatatak sa isip ko lang napakahirap namang araw-araw na umiyak. Sa akin, mayroong palala na napakabuti niyang tao. Na minamahal siya ngayon sa paraehong paraan na minahal niya ang tao, ang sambayanan (I think crying each day is hard, so I just think that there is something that reminds me that he is a good man. That he is love the same way he loved the people),” he said.
According to him, Bañez loved the people and the job that despite being aware of the dangers, the judge gave primacy to fairness in his decisions.
“Minahal po niya ang trabaho niya hindi po siya natakot na gawin ang dapat niyang gawin… inisip niya na may iba din na pwedeng mapahamak kung hindi niya gagawin ang trabaho niya (He loved his work, and did not fear to do what he had to do. He thought of others that may be put in danger if he did not perform his job),” he shared.
According to him, good people like his father live forever, that he sees his dad “live in everyone who fights for justice.”
“Napakalaki ng sakripisyo pero ang aking panalangin ay mas marami pang mga tao na buhay na maniniwala sa hustisya nakakatalot man ang mundo. May mga tao mang hindi naininiwala sa hustisya [dahil] naniniwala sila sa dahas, naniniwala sila sa pananakot sa pananambang, sana mas marami pang taong tatapat doon na maniniwala sa hustisya (It’s a huge sacrifice, but I pray that more people will believe with justice even though the world is scary. Even if there are people who don’t believe in justice because they believe in violence, they believe in threats and ambushing [persons], we hope that more people will believe in justice),” he said.
Shooters ambushed and killed Bañez, who presided over RTC Branch 25 in Tagudin, on November 5. He was driving his Hyundai Accent on his way home when the shooting happened in Brgy. Mameltac, San Fernando City, La Union. He is the sixth murdered judge and the 43rd man of law killed under the Duterte administration.
Bañez’s youngest son, Alexei, shared that his father’s passing has yet to sink in, noting that he has not cried since he learned of the incident.
“Hanggang ngayon hindi ko pa matanggap (I still can’t accept what happened until now),” he said, adding that Sunday before the fatal shooting, the family went out and ate together.
“Hinatid pa nga ako ni papa sa may sakayan noon sa may terminal ng Partas. Noong Monday kinamusta pa ako ni papa at tinanong niya kung kumusta ako sa dorm at college life ko, kaya ko pa ba? (Papa even brought me to Partas bus station. He even asked how I am doing, how is my dorm and college life, if I can still take it on Monday),” he recalled.
In the conversation, Alexei remembered that his father reminded him to study well and “ingatan mo ang sarili mo at wala kami diyan palagi sa tabi mo para alagaan ka (take care of yourself since we are not always there to take care of you).”
His dad, according to him, promised to attend his graduation.
“Masakit kasi yung dalawang kuya ko ay naatendan niya ang graduations. Isang graduation na lang sana ang pupuntahan niya ganito naman na, hindi na matutupad (It is painful because he attended the graduation of two elder brothers. He has just one graduation to attend, but this happened),” he added.
Alexei said the family is aware of the risk of Bañez’s work, “lalo ngayon na maraming tinatarget na member ng judiciary (especially now that many members of the judiciary are targeted)” but said he did not expect that his dad would die in the same manner.
“Daddy didn’t deserve this. He was a good man. Nakakainis lang na yung mabubuting tao, ito pa yung nangyayari sa kanila… (It is just frustrating that such things happen to good people…),” he lamented.
Beyond judicial service
Other than the judiciary, Bañez was also a respected member of the community, both in San Fernando City, where he resides and in his hometown Tadian in Mountain Province.
His colleague in the Saint Louis Credit Cooperative Board of Directors Emmanuel Juquiana said the murdered magistrate was “not only concern with the judiciary but also [provided] service to the people, especially the poor and marginalized.”
He explained that despite having a busy schedule, the judge always made time to tend his responsibilities in the cooperative, where he served as board chairman for many years.
“Kahit Sabado at gabi ay nagmemeeting at tumutugon sa needs ng members of the cooperative. Nakapakabait sa komunidad ng less fortunate people. Siya ay tumutulong despite his busy schedule (He hold meetings and attend to the needs of cooperative members even on Saturdays. He is good to the community of less fortunate people. He helps despite his busy schedule),” he said.
Meanwhile, the Municipality of Tadian expressed their grief of condemnation on the incident through a municipal resolution.
“Judge Mario Anacleto Marrero Bañez is a distinguished member of the municipality of Tadian. His unlawful, premeditated killing deprived our community of a living role model whose life is worthy of respect, admiration, and emulation,” the resolution said.
Tadian officials also urged “all law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.” # nordis.net/Featured photo from Tagudin LGU Facebook