by Harley F. Palangchao
Former Abra Gov. Vicente Valera and co-accused Rufino Panday and Leo Bello were slapped with life imprisonment (40 years) over the killing of former Abra representative Luis Bersamin and his bodyguard SPO1 Adelfo Ortega in December 2006.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 84 Judge Roslyn Tria handed the decision on Sept. 30, almost six years after Valera was arrested in September 2009.
“All accused in People vs. Vicente Isidro Valera, Rufino Panday and Leo Bello were convicted of two counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua,” reports quoted Department of Justice Sec. Leila de Lima as saying, when the court’s decision was rendered.
Sources, who are privy to the case, said justice has been served to the families of Bersamin and his bodyguard, who were shot to death after the legislator attended his niece’ wedding at the Mt. Carmel Church in Quezon City.
The slain congressman is the brother of Supreme Court Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, who then executed an affidavit, identifying Valera as the person with the strongest motive to order the killing of his brother.
While the killing was committed in Quezon City, the double murder sowed a culture of fear back in Abra, as many political leaders were killed before him that time.
Twenty-nine Abra politicians, including mayors Jose Segundo Sr. of Tubo, Clarence Benwaren of Tineg, and Marc Ysrael Bernos of La Paz, were assassinated from 2001 up to the time of Bersamin’s slay in 2006.
More than a year after Valera was arrested, suspect Freddie Dupo, in a twist of events, named the former governor as the mastermind in the double murder.
The brother of the slain congressman, now Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, ran against Valera for the top provincial post in the May 2007 elections and won. He was reelected in 2010 and 2013.