Ex-mayor acquitted, while driver found guilty of murderBy Jaymee T. Gamil
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A former mayor of Tampakan, South Cotabato, who was tagged by two witnesses, including the gunman himself, as one of the masterminds of the killing, was acquitted Monday of the murder of his father’s political rival in 2004.
Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 6 Judge Jansen Rodriguez dismissed the case against ex-Tampakan Mayor Bienvenido Barroso in connection with the killing of mayoral candidate Gregorio Banal for insufficient evidence.
The court’s ruling immediately drew condemnation from the family and friends of the victim.
Banal’s two daughters, who flew in from Australia and South Cotabato to attend the promulgation, stormed out of the courtroom after the 50-page decision was read.
Mark Escano, family friend and representative, said they were overcome by disappointment, anger and frustration.
“This is more than depression. We have pursued this for eight years. It has been tiring. Is this how the justice system works?” he said.
Escano said the Banal family was mulling filing administrative charges against Judge Rodriguez.
While acquitting the principal suspect, Rodriquez found Barroso’s coaccused, Rudy Mangilay, guilty of murder after he was positively identified by one of the witnesses.
Mangilay was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay more than P1 million to the victim’s family.
Banal was shot dead on July 28, 2004, while in his jeep parked on a Tampakan street by three men on a motorcycle, more than two months after he lost the town’s mayoral election to Barroso’s father, Claudius.
An eyewitness pointed to Mangilay as the motorcycle driver.
Wahabin Samya Pasague, the confessed gunman who turned state witness, tagged Barroso and his uncle Henry as the masterminds of the attack. Pasague’s testimony was collaborated by a security guard who worked for the Barrosos.
Barroso was arrested shortly after he won the 2007 mayoral elections in Tampakan.
After an appeal from the Banal family that the case be tried in Manila, Barroso and Mangilay were transferred to the Manila City jail in 2007.