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Task group formed to probe slay of Ilocos judge

JUDGE KILLED – Picture of the RTC Judge Mario Anacleto M. Bañez, 53, who was shot dead by unidentified riding assailants in Barangay Mameltac, San Fernando City, La Union Wednesday (Nov. 6, 2019). (Photo courtesy: Bañez FB)

BAÑEZ (FB photo)

By FREDDIE LAZARO, ERWIN BELEO

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The police force here has formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to probe the gun-slaying of Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez in Barangay Mameltac here on Tuesday afternoon.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Silverio Ordinado, spokesperson of the La Union police provincial office, said that Bañez, 53, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 25 in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, was driving his Hyundai Accent (ACL 1508) on his way home when two-motorcycle-riding men fired shots at him in Barangay Mameltac, San Fernando City, at around 5:40 p.m.

Probers said that Banez’s car overturned on the road after he stepped on its accelerator during the ambush.

The judge did not reach the Bethany Hospital alive where he was rushed by the responding lawmen. Initial reports said he suffered a gunshot wound in the head.

Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) recovered from the site of the attack  two bullets fired from 9mm pistol.

According to Ordinado, the SITG Bañez headed by Colonel Jay R. Cumigad, La Union police provincial director, will look into all angles to identify the suspects and the motive behind the killing.

Ordinado also asked the witnesses to come out and help shed light the incident.

Meanwhile, the judge’s son, Darryl Lance Banez, posted on his Facebook account, expressing his belief that his father was “murdered in pursuit of justice.”

Crime scene investigators examine the vehicle of Regional Trial Court Judge Mario Anacleto M. Bañez who was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants in Barangay Mameltac, San Fernando City, La Union, Tuesday.

CRIME scene investigators examine the vehicle of Regional Trial Court Judge Mario Anacleto M. Bañez who was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants in Barangay Mameltac, San Fernando City, La Union, Tuesday.

“I will not mince words. In the pursuit of justice, my father was murdered. Assassinated. Evil men took away life from someone who deserved to live for as long as he could,” Darryl Lance said.

“This is a difficult time for our family. His friends, who are my titos and titas, share in the inconsolable grief this has brought us. We knew the risks, but the pain remains potent. The incident, however, is larger than our own suffering. He’s the 6th judge (and 43rd person of the law) to have been killed under this regime that sows terror to those who believe in justice,” he added.

He cited a report linking his father’s death to the acquittal of a health worker’s murder case.

It was learned that last September his father acquitted one Rachel Mariano, a Cordillera health worker, who was accused by the Army as communist rebel involved in the ambush of members of the 81st Infantry Battalion in 2017 in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, that left a soldier dead.

Judge Bañez reportedly condemned the ambush, but he stated that “it would be more deplorable and unfair to convict the accused of all these serious crimes charged against her upon the quality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution.”

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