LAOAG CITY (Jan.19) – Ilocos Norte Judge Fredelito G. Pingao was found dead with a slash in his throat inside his residence in Brgy. San Simeon, Currimao town at about 8 am today.
Pingao, 51, was found dead lying in a pool of blood in his living room by his personal driver identified as Francisco Gonzales who went to his house earlier this morning. Initial reports said Pingao also bore stab wounds in his body. There was no sign of struggle and resistance by the victim when the killing occurred, investigators said.
Senior Supt. Marlou Chan, Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Director, said investigators have yet to determine the motive behind the killing. Reports said there were no signs of break in on the judge’s residence
based on initial police investigations.
Probers said at least three house guests had engaged a drinking spree with Judge Pingao on the eve of his murder. All were invited for questioning at the PNP station.
Court sources said Pingao was scheduled to officiate a civil wedding ceremony at the city court at 9 am today.
“We began to worry what happened to Judge Pingao when it was already past 9 o’clock. He used to arrive to his appointments in court ahead of time,” a court staff said.
Pingao, who was fondly called Freddie by friends and peers, was said to be living alone in his house located within his family compound in Barangay San Simeon in Currimao town.
He was assigned as judge in the municipal circuit trial court of Vintar and Sarrat towns and concurrently sitting as acting judge of Branch 1 of the Laoag City court, formerly occupied by recently retired Judge Marciano Asencion.
RTC Executive Judge Conrado Ragucos described the murder of Judge Pingao as “senseless killing”.
He explained that the culprit would not benefit from the judge’s death if the murder was work-related. The culprit erred if he thought that in killing Judge Pingao he would get a favorable court decision from the next judge who would handle the same case, Judge Ragucos added.
The executive judge told newsmen that Judge Pingao used to see him to ask for vacation leaves. So far, he never mentioned to me any death threat against his life, Hon. Ragucos said.
Pingao was the second Ilocos Norte judge who was murdered since 2001. Judge Ariston Rubio of the Regional Trial Court of Batac was gunned down on October 31, 2001 on his way to the court for a hearing.
Lawyer Richard Tumaneng, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Ilocos Norte, went on radio broadcast and called the police to solve the murder of their colleague immediately.
“We call on the PNP to solve the killings of judges with dispatch. The murder involving members of the bench needs serious attention,” he said.
Tumaneng said he welcomes the judges’ and lawyers’ clamor to arm themselves with guns for personal protection against would-be assassins.