The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the prosecution of the primary accused in the gruesome slay case of Ruby Rose Barrameda.
A 16-page decision of the CA’s 4th Division, penned by Associate Justice Eduardo Peralta Jr., affirmed the Department of Justice (DOJ) finding probable cause against fishing magnate Lope Jimenez, uncle-in-law of the victim.
This September 21, 2015 ruling was concurred in by Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Francisco Acosta.
Ruby Rose, sister of actress and former beauty queen Rochelle Barrameda, went missing on March 14, 2007.
After two years, her body was found inside in a steel case in a drum sealed with cement recovered from a port in Navotas City (Metro Manila).
Manuel Montero, who surfaced in 2009, provided details that led to the discovery of the remains of Ruby Rose.
He executed sworn statements where he admitted his participation in the killing of Barrameda and named the victim’s father-in-law Manuel Jimenez Jr., as well as Lope Jimenez, Lennard Descalso alias Spyke, Robert Ponce alias Obet and Eric Fernandez as co-conspirators.
The CA ruling junked a petition filed by Lope seeking dismissal of the case.
The appellate court cited vital information found by the DOJ that affirmed finding probable cause against Lope on the basis of Montero’s testimony.
Montero was able to pinpoint the exact location of Ruby Rose’s cadaver beyond the shores of Navotas.
He was also able to describe not only the drum and its steel casing where Barrameda’s body was placed and cemented but also the victim’s clothes when she was abducted before she was killed.
The CA said the Justice secretary did not commit grave abuse of discretion in finding probable cause.
“A sufficient ground was established to engender a well-founded belief that the persons mentioned by Montero, including petitioner, were indeed probably guilty of the crime imputed against them,” it ruled.
The CA did not bite the claim of Lope that the case must be dismissed on the basis of technicality under the doctrine of res inter alios acta or when the rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration of omission of another (Montero’s testimony as co-accused).
“However, petitioner’s assertion of strict rules on evidence during the stage of preliminary investigation may not assume legal resonance in such inquisition since technical rules on evidence are not binding on the fiscal who, as a quasi-judicial officer, has jurisdiction and control over the conduct of the preliminary investigation,” it asserted.
The appellate court found it best to push for trial of the case since it is within the province of the prosecution to conduct preliminary investigation and determine if there is prima facie evidence against the accused.