BOGO City, Cebu Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr., Vice Mayor Santiago Sevilla and the mayor’s son Jose Carlo are facing grave coercion charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with a standoff during the 2010 national elections.
The Office of the Ombudsman alleged that Martinez and Sevilla, in conspiracy with Jose Carlo, “wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously prevented Benhur L. Salimbangon and his companions who were on board their respective vehicles from leaving Polambato Elementary School and/or Polambato Road…” in May 2010.
The respondents allegedly blocked Salimbangon and his companions and ordered members of the city’s Anti-Crime Task Force to cordon off the area.
They also allegedly caused the search of the complainants’ vehicles without warrant and by means of intimidation.
Salimbangon, currently the congressional representative of Cebu’s Fourth District, was running for a congressional seat against another Martinez son—Celestino ‘Tining’ Martinez 3rd—when the incident happened.
The older Martinez, Liberal Party district chairman in Cebu, will run against Salimbangon this year for the position of congressional representative of the province’s Fourth District.
The Ombudsman’s office filed the case after it affirmed a recommendation of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cebu to formally charge Martinez Jr., Sevilla and Jose Carlo.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales affirmed the findings stating that “it is clear that when the complainants were prevented from moving their vehicles within the area of Palombato Road in Bogo City and respondents searched the vehicles of the complainants, there was such a display of material force which necessarily produced intimidation, and in effect, controlled the will of the complainants.”
Under Article 286 of the Revised Penal Code, a person commits grave coercion when, without authority of law and by means of violence, prevents another from doing something not prohibited by law or compel him to do something against his will whether it be right or wrong.