THE Supreme Court (SC) has ac quitted the former mayor of Amadeo, Cavite and five others who were found guilty by the Sandiganbayan in connection with the killing of a policeman and his relative in 2004.
Exonerated by the SC Third Division was Albert Ambagan Jr., and five others who acted as his bodyguards identified as Alberto Angcanan, Juanito Loyola, Melanio Bayot, Flor Amparo, and Rosendo Causaren.
The accused were cleared on two counts of homicide “for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” according to the high tribunal decision dated October 14,2015 but was released only to the media recently.
The SC’s ruling stemmed from the anti-graft court decision sentencing Ambagan and five others to a maximum of 12 years imprisonment each for two counts of homicide for the death of Senior Police Officer 2 Reynaldo Santos and his relative identified as Domingo Bawalan.
Records showed that Reynaldo Santos, then head of the Intelligence and Investigation Division of the Cavite Provincial Mobile Group, accosted Ambagan’s men who were carrying firearms in Barangay Tamacan, Amadeo on July 5, 2004.
Ambagan was then the incumbent town mayor and the five accused were reportedly among his security escorts.
Informed of the incident, Ambagan allegedly requested Santos to settle the problem, which the policeman rejected. This prompted Ambagan to have allegedly ordered his men to finish off the victims.
Ambagan and his men were subsequently charged with two counts of homicide before the Sandiganbayan.
However, in its ruling on Ambagan’s appeal, the High Court held that “the scant evidence for the prosecution casts serious doubts as to the guilt of petitioner as principal by inducement.”
It pointed out that it was not convincingly established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the former mayor indeed ordered his men to open fire at Santos and Bawalan. “The evidence offered against him in court does not pass the test of moral certainty and is insufficient to rebut the presumption of innocence that petitioner is entitled to under the Bill of Rights,” the verdict read.
The SC added, “… where there is reasonable doubt as to the guilt of an accused, he must be acquitted even though his innocence may be questioned, for it is not sufficient for the proof to establish a probability, even though strong, that the fact charged is more likely to be true than the contrary. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, more than mere likelihood, requires moral certainty —a certainty that convinces and satisfies the reason and conscience of those who are to act upon it.”