Slain Laguna town mayor’s son pleads with Duterte for justice
by Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
Aldous Perez, the youngest son of the late Los Baños Mayor Caesar Perez (Photo by Ivan Stewart Saldajeno)
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna (Philippines News Agency)– One of the children of the slain mayor here has pleaded with President Rodrigo Duterte to help his family and this town’s residents attain justice for his father’s brutal death.
“Kami po ay nananawagan kay Presidente Duterte kasama ang aking pamilya at ang mamamayan ng Los Baños na umiiyak na humihingi kami ng hustisya sa pagkamatay ng aking ama (On behalf of my family and the residents of Los Baños who are mourning right now, we are pleading to President Duterte and we seek for justice for the death of my father),” Aldous Perez, the youngest son of Mayor Caesar Perez, said on Sunday during the latter’s wake at their residence here.
Aldous arrived from the United States following his father’s death.
The mayor was gunned down by still unidentified suspects within the municipal hall compound on Thursday night.
While the mayor’s death came as a shock to his constituents, Aldous believes it may have something to do with the so-called “narco-list” that Duterte unveiled in the past.
Mayor Perez was included in the said list.
“Marahil dahil inilabas nila sa listahan. Tatanungin ko sana sila, ‘Ano ba’ng pruweba?’ dahil wala kaming tinatago (Maybe because they revealed the list. I was looking to ask them, ‘What is the proof?’ We are not concealing anything),” Aldous said.
He said his father had been proving his innocence on the accusations prior to his death.
“This year, I think kung di ako nagkakamali, either October or November, nagpunta siya sa PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) para i-clear yung name niya, at hiningian siya ng drug test, which is negative naman (if I am not mistaken, last October or November, he went to PDEA to clear his name, and he was asked for a drug test, which was negative),” he recalled.
Aldous said his family is coordinating with the police with regard the investigation on the killing, adding that he would wait for some results before giving further statements.
“Nirerespeto ko sila at naniniwala ako, kaya nananawagan ako sa Presidente dahil malaki ang maitutulong niya dito (I respect them, and I believe in them, so I am calling on the President to intervene because he will be of great help regarding this),” he continued.
Caesar Perez served as mayor of this town from 2001-10 and from 2013 until he was killed with a short stint as Laguna’s vice governor in between.
While being a father to his children, he was also a figurative father to his fellow “eLBiZens” prior to his untimely death.
Aldous recalled how his father was as a longtime public servant.
“Ang nami-miss ko dyan, laging nandyan hindi lang para sa pamilya kundi para sa taumbayan. Kahit sinong lumapit, may appointment o walang appointment, kukunin ka (What I miss about him is that he is always there not only for his family but also for everyone living in this town. Anyone who comes to him, whether they have an appointment or not, he will quickly respond),” he said.
Even if he had been a top official here and even in the rest of Laguna as a one-time vice governor for the past 19 years, Mayor Perez, according to his son, remained down to earth.
“Napakasimpleng tao. Walang bodyguard. Walang arte. Kahit sino, kinakausap. Kilala ng mamamayan ng Los Baños ang ating punong bayan (He was a very simple man. He has no bodyguard. He was unsophisticated. He talked to everyone. The people of Los Baños know our mayor),” Aldous said, pointing out that his father continued to enjoy the trust of his constituents despite all the issues thrown against him.
He also recalled the times when his father himself responded to certain disasters.
“Pag may sunog, siya mismo ang nang-aagaw ng hose. Pag may bagyo, siya ang nagpuputol ng punong natumba (If there was a fire, he himself was among those tending the hose in fire trucks. If there was a storm, he was among those cutting fallen trees),” Aldous continued. “May camera o wala, nagtatrabaho siya (With or without camera, he was working).”
He said his father was not the type of public official who craved for publicity.
“Hindi siya sanay na may camera para may pa-photo op (He was not used to being in front of a camera for a photo op,” Aldous said.
He even recalled the times that his dad himself did traffic enforcement at the Los Baños Junction, which is the intersection of the Manila South Road and Lopez Avenue, the main road toward the University of the Philippines (UP) campus here.
Mayor Perez’s residence is located along Lopez Avenue, formerly known as Grove Road, just before the UP-Los Baños main gate.
This writer was a witness to the late mayor’s traffic enforcement “duty” at the entrance of the municipal cemetery here during “Undas”.
Mayor Perez, according to his son, will be dearly missed.
“Hindi lang kami ang makaka-miss kundi ang taumbayan, kaya ang taumbayan ng Los Baños ay umiiyak at humihiling ng hustisya (We are not the only ones who will miss him but also everyone in this town, the residents of Los Baños are crying and asking for justice),” Aldous said.
Asked if he would continue the legacy of his father and give the 2022 elections a try, Aldous, a former Sangguniang Kabataan officer here, replied, “Bayaan niyo muna kaming magluksa. Ayoko munang mag-komento tungkol sa pulitika or any future na pagtakbo (Just let us mourn for the meantime. I do not want to comment for now about politics or any future plan of running in the next election).” (PNA)