Lawyer Nena Santos said she has received numerous death threats through telephone calls, mobile phone text messages, passed on and direct verbal warnings since a court in Cebu City issued its judgment on the celebrated case last October 6.
“I've been actually receiving threats since the day I decided to handle Marlene's case but this time I think the situation has become more volatile so I've been thinking of seeking proper protection," she said in a radio interview.
In one instance, the lawyer said she directly received the threat from a person who was unknown to her.
Santos, who is a personal friend of Esperat, believes that the fresh threats on her life were connected to the renewed efforts of the Esperat camp to press charges against the alleged "real masterminds" of the killing.
Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Eric Menchavez earlier sentenced suspects Jerry Cabayag, Randy Grecia and former Army sergeant Estanislao Bismanos to life imprisonment for the killing of Esperat in Tacurong City on March 24 last year.
However, the court spared the fourth suspect Rowie Barua, a former military intelligence officer who turned state witness.
After the promulgation of judgment, Santos filed a motion for reconsideration to reinstate the murder charge against alleged masterminds Osmeña Montañer and Estrella Sabay, both top officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12.
Montañer, a regional finance officer, and Sabay, a regional accountant, were the subjects of alleged graft and corruption complaints earlier filed by Esperat before the Ombudsman.
The two were initially charged for the killing of Esperat, a former DA chemist, but the case was dismissed for "insufficient evidence."
Esperat was gunned down on March 24 last year, a Maundy Thursday, in front of her two young children while having dinner inside their home in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat.
Esperat was a columnist for the weekly tabloid, “The Midland Review, “ published in Tacurong City and nearby areas.
Despite the threats, Santos said she would not back down on her commitment to bring to court those behind the murder.
But she would seriously consider the threats against her for her personal protection.
As initial precautionary measure, Santos said she is preparing to bring the case to the attention of local police authorities.(Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)