GAPAN CITY, Nueva Ecija—Slain city councilor Sonny San Jose was threatened with harm by Mayor Emerson Pascual and his father Rodrigo before he was killed, the former’s brother said in a sworn statement.
Police are looking into politics as one of the motives behind the high-profile killing of San Jose.
In an affidavit executed before the Gapan police, Lauro San Jose said his brother told him the Pascual father-and-son warned him verbally and through text messages.
He said his brother could barely sleep because of the numerous death threats he supposedly received from the Pascuals.
But the younger Pascual said his alleged involvement in San Jose’s killing was farthest from the truth.
“If I ordered San Jose’s killing, what would I gain from it? In the first place, I am not the one to appoint his replacement. Secondly, they will remain the majority in the SP,” he said.
“Also, if I would order such a dastardly act, why would I do that in my own backyard where I would get embarrassed? Common sense dictates I would do it somewhere else,” he said.
The elder San Jose, the eldest in a brood of 12 children, made the statement before Sr. Insp. Jaime Ferrer of the Gapan police.
The younger San Jose and his driver Antonio Punzal were killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen on Oct. 19, right on the birthday of the mayor.
His killing was allegedly a gift given to the mayor whose policies the slain councilor was said to have opposed.
San Jose and Punzal were inside the Mini-Game Fowl Farm of businessman Roel Francisco in Barangay Mangino here when motorcycle-riding gunmen barged inside the compound and gunned them down. They died immediately.
It marked the first time an elected city official was killed under the Pascual administration.
San Jose is an ally of Pascual’s rival, former mayor Maricel Natividad-Nagaño, wife of San Leonardo Mayor Froilan Nagaño Sr. under whose ticket he won in last May’s elections.
The elder Pascual ran but lost to Natividad-Nagano’s late father, Ernesto Natividad in the 2007 elections.
Lauro said the pro-Natividad councilors have been receiving threats, with one of them being told “We will have a sample in one of you.”
The mayor’s father Rodrigo said the accusations were actually politically instigated. “They know Mayor Emeng [Pascual’s nickname] is well-loved by the people of Gapan so they are trying to destroy him through black propaganda,” he said.
The younger Pascual said when he first learned of San Jose’s killing, he was saddened and frustrated because it was a slap in the face of his administration.
“I was trying to project Gapan City as a safe city and this is a big blow to our efforts to erase its past image as politically violent,” he said.
He said that when San Jose was killed, he was one of the first to condemn it and even offered a reward of P200,000 for information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.
Lauro has scoffed at the reward offer, saying “is he going to reward himself?”