Esperat’s sons graduate

 (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews): DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 March) – Marlene Esperat did not live to see
her two youngest sons graduate from elementary and high school.
Three years ago today, the 45-year old columnist (“Madame Witness”) of

The Midland Review was gunned down while having dinner inside her
house in Tacurong City, in the presence of her sons Kevin Jorge, then 15,
and James Derreck, then 10. Kevin is graduating from high school while
James is graduating from elementary, said Valmi Garcia Mariveles,
Marlene’s sister.

Valmi said the family has opted to observe her death anniversary very
simply today, as everyone is busy for the children’s graduation next
week.

A man walked casually into the dining room of the Esperats from their
adjoining store, JJRJ mini mart at around 7:15 on March 24, 2005,  a
Maundy Thursday, greeted Marlene “Good Evening,” and just as she
looked up, shot her, hitting her right eye. The gunman ran out of the
store to the corner of Block 1, Waling-Waling St. Barangay New Isabela,
some 20 meters away and turned right to where a tricycle was reportedly
waiting.

Ryhnche Arcones,  then 23, Marlene’s second daughter from an earlier
relationship, was tending the store  just beside the dining area when the
gunman shot her mother.

Marlene did not also live to see her first grandchild, the child of her
eldest daughter Janice, then 25. She was scheduled to visit Davao on
Easter Sunday to pay them a visit.

Marlene was a chemist turned whistleblower in the Department of
Agriculture’s regional office.

The gunman and his accomplices had been sentenced to life terms in late
2006 but the alleged masterminds – Osmena Montaner, finance officer of
the Department of Agriculture regional office and Estrella Sabay, regional
accountant – continued to elude arrest.

Warrants for their arrest had been served in their residences in Cotabato
City
afternoon of February 22 but the two suspects had fled.
The arrest warrants were issued on February 4.

Supt. Danilo Bacas, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police in the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), told MindaNews the
warrant had also been served in the other residence of Montaner in
Malabang, Lanao del Sur on March 7 by the 1505th Provincial Mobile Group
(PMG) but Montaner was not there.

Montaner and Sabay were named masterminds by former military
intelligence agent Rowie Biruar, who helped plan the assassination but
later turned state witness.

Through Barua’s testimony, the three other hired killers, Randy Grecia,
Gerry Cabayag and Estanislao Bismanos, were sentenced to life
imprisonment by Cebu City RTC Judge Eric Menchavez on October 6,
2006. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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