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 this 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 parehong paraan na minahal niya ang tao, ang sambayanan,” 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 shared.
Darryl Lance said that good people like his father live forever, that he sees his dad “live in everyone who fights for justice.”
He wished that his father’s sacrifice would move others “to love, to believe in justice, to believe in goodness and to share it to those who are in need” with emphasis on those “suffering injustices in this world.”
“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,” he said.
Darryl Lance earlier posted on his Facebook that his father was “killed under this regime that sows terror to those who believe in justice.”
Gunmen 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,” 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?” 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.”
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,” he added.
Alexei said the family is aware of the risk of Bañez’s work, “lalo ngayon na maraming tinatarget na member ng judiciary” 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…,” 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 concerned 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 said.
Juquiana also thank the Bañez’s wife and children for “sharing and allowing the judge to serve the cooperative and its members.”
Meanwhile, the Municipality of Tadian expressed their grief and condemnation of 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.”