A Manila court has dismissed for lack of evidence the double murder case against Michael Ray Aquino in connection with the 2000 deaths of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
In his decision, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 18 Judge Carolino Sison also ordered Aquino’s immediate release.
Aquino’s lawyer, Napoleon Poblador, said the court granted their motion to dismiss in a demurrer filed several weeks ago.
He said the prosecution was not able to prove Aquino’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
A National Bureau of Investigation jail guard, who asked not to be named for lack of authority, said they received the court order late afternoon Wednesday and had started processing the papers for Aquino’s release.
“Aquino wanted to leave the jail compound last night as soon as the process is complete,” the source said.
When contacted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aquino expressed surprise about his impending release.
“I was also surprised by the decision of the court, and I’m happy that I’m finally a free man,” Aquino told the Inquirer.
He added that he was in jail for 59 months in a facility in the United States and 18 months at the NBI jail.
Aquino was implicated by Cezar Mancao, his colleague in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, whose top officials were accused of carrying out the murders.
After fleeing the country and hiding for 10 years in the United States, Aquino was extradited to the Philippines in June last year to face the murder charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty.