Pangasinan judge dies in ambush
- Eva De Leon and Cesar Ramirez () - September 29, 2002 - 12:00am
Despite constant death threats, a 56-year-old regional trial court judge in Pangasinan refused to be cowed from doing his job and deciding cases the way they should be even if it meant endangering his life.

At a time when magistrates were often regarded as "hoodlums in robes," he repeatedly refused advice from his family and friends to hire even one bodyguard, and instead carried a gun and drove to work alone.

He often told worried relatives that he was not afraid to die for his country and he wanted to do so with a "clean conscience."

Last Friday afternoon, Judge Oscar Gary Uson of the Tayug Regional Trial Court Branch 52, was assassinated by four suspected hit men while on his way home from work in Asingan town in Pangasinan, police said.

Investigator SPO2 Patricio Badu Jr. said Uson was on his way to the town proper when four men aboard two motorcycles fired at his red Mercedes Benz as it crossed the Narciso Ramos Bridge that linked Asingan and Sta. Maria towns.

Uson was alone.

Uson was hit at least three times: two in the chest and another just below his left ear, which most likely killed him instantaneously, Badu said. Investigators found six caliber .45 shells at the scene.

Police refused to speculate on the motive for the killing but strongly suspected that the still unidentified gunmen were sent by someone involved in one of the cases decided by Uson.

The victim’s relatives said he had been receiving anonymous death threats for the past weeks, prompting him to carry a gun.

Uson’s sister, Loreta de los Santos, said the "Aguila gang," a criminal group protected by local politicians, was involved. She did not elaborate.

She said Uson sent some gang members to prison during his stint in western Pangasinan before he was assigned to Tayug four years ago.

"Nobody wants to be a judge anymore if those rendering decisions to the detriment of the accused would be killed," she said.

De los Santos said she and other family members had advised Uson in the past to hire a bodyguard but he always dismissed the threat and insisted to carry a gun himself instead.

"I’ll die with a clean conscience. I’ll die for my country," De los Santos quoted her brother as saying.

De los Santos, who rushed to Dagupan City from her Marikina City home, appealed to President Arroyo to provide assistance to bring her brother’s murderers to justice.

"Please do everything, Madame President. I am appealing to you on bended knees," she said.

Apparently the gunmen knew his elder brother’s routine and were waiting for him on the bridge, Bobby Uson said.

He recalled that his brother knew that someone wanted him dead but never had an idea who, and he always carried a gun outside the house for protection.

"He would often tell us that he might get killed anytime. He had no idea when. Maybe this was the moment he was waiting for," he said.

Uson was supposed to act as godfather at a wedding yesterday and had wanted to go home and get a good rest for the occasion, his brother said.

A resident of Amado district in the provincial capital of Dagupan City, Uson is married to Dr. Estrellita Uson, head of the pediatrics department of Dagupan’s Region I Medical Center.

He returned to work a few days ago after going on a month-long leave to recover from emphysema, caused by his smoking habit.

The fifth in a brood of nine, Uson was described by siblings as "very lovable, very compassionate, very caring, who loves to say ‘I love you’" to loved ones.

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