Capiz board member to sue four colleagues for libel

By Felipe V. Celino

ROXAS CITY, Capiz – Capiz Provincial Board Member Eleuper “Bulilit” Martinez is preparing libel charges against his four colleagues – Weldie Apolinario, Elmer Arevalo, Jonathan Besa and Thea Faith Reyes – after they refused to apologize for tagging him in an alleged bribery yarn.

Martinez strongly denied the allegations and accused the four board members of raising allegations that he offered P500,000 to each board member in exchange for the approval of the province’s 2022 Annual Investment Plan and the Executive Budget.

He said the accusation has no legal basis, which placed his reputation in bad light. Because of this, he claimed to have suffered sleepless nights and his blood pressure shot up.

Martinez accused the four legislatures as “law breakers” and requested Police Colonel Aaron Palomo, Roxas police chief, to arrest Besa should he deliver his privilege speech during the recent regular session of the provincial board.

But Besa did not deliver a speech, instead it was Apolinario who spoke.

Palomo said he did not act on Martinez’s request.

To recall, Martinez sent a letter dated Jan 11, 2022 to his four colleagues which they received on Jan 12.

He gave Apolinario, Arevalo, Besa and Reyes five days to issue a public apology and retract their accusation in their regular session.

Martinez said that he is constrained to file libel charges if the four board members refuse to apologize.

But Board Member Apolinario stood pat on his statement that Martinez indeed offered them P500,000 each to approve the Annual Investment Plan.

Martinez also allegedly promised the release of the board member’s 3rd and 4th quarter (2021) community development funds (CDF) and the advance release for their 1st and 2nd quarter CDF for 2022.

CDFs are considered the “pork barrel” funds of local lawmakers.

Apolinario claimed that the alleged bribes were offered on Dec 3, 2021 during the committee hearing of the economic affairs held in a hotel where Martinez was acting presiding officer instead of committee chairman board member Karen Palomar.

He said Martinez went to the table of the board members shortly after the meeting and made the offer.

Besa, on the other hand, confirmed that Martinez also offered to him the alleged bribes. But he refused saying his public service is “not for sale.”