MANILA, Philippines – The Malabon Regional Trial Court (RTC) acquitted father-and-son Manuel Jimenez Jr and Manuel Jimenez III in the sensational murder case of Ruby Rose Barrameda.
Saying that there was "dearth of evidence on record," after the main witness recanted and disappeared, the Malabon RTC Branch 170 cleared Jimenez Jr of murder and Jimenez III of parricide.
Barrameda disappeared on March 14, 2007, after she visited her children at the Jimenezes' residence. At the time, Barrameda had filed protection and custody suits against her estranged husband, Jimenez III.
Accused Manuel Montero turned witness and pointed the police to an area in the port of Navotas where Barrameda's body was dumped. There, police recovered a steel drum with a body stuffed inside. Barrameda was identified through her dental records.
Montero pointed to the Jimenezes and other people of conspiring to commit the murder.
In March 2013, Montero recanted his testimony and said all his statements against the Jimenezes were lies. He went missing soon after.
In November 2015, the Malabon RTC expunged from its records Montero's unfinished testimony. The court ruled it cannot admit his previously sworn statements as evidence.
Without it, the prosecution had only on its side police officers who had a hand in recovering Barrameda's body, none of whom pointed to the suspects.
"There is dearth of evidence on record that would associate the accused to the criminal agency responsible to the crime committed," said Judge Edwin Larida Jr said in his decision to acquit Jimenez Jr on July 10.
Barrameda's mother Asuncion also testified on the marital squabbles of Ruby Rose and Jimenez III, but the court ruled this as not sufficient.
"There was absolutely no showing of the gravity or juridical antecedence or incurability of the problems besetting their marital union," the judge said.
"The testimony of Ms Asuncion Barrameda falls short of that quantum of proof necessary to establish the fact that the accused are responsible for the sudden disappearance of the victim and their connections to the cadaver retrieved inside the steel drum," Larida added.
On August 15, Larida proceeded to also acquit Jimenez III of parricide.
"It has not been shown that the love turned sour between the erring spouses made accused Manuel Jimenez III sow the seeds of violence by masterminding the reprehensible deed against his wife," the judge said.
Also acquitted were Lennard "Spyke" Descalso and Norberto Ponce, whom Montero earlier pointed to as the ones who carried out the murder as allegedly ordered by the Jimenezes.
The Barrameda family held a press conference on Monday, September 30, where they called on Montero to surface.
“Kung ikaw ay buhay pa,' di namin alam kung nakatakas o pinatakas..sana manumbalik uli sa ’yo na ikaw makonsensya,” said Barrameda's father Robert.
(If you're still alive, we don't know if you escaped or they let you escape...I hope you come back and heed your conscience.) – Rappler.com