Star witness in Ruby Rose Barrameda murder case recants
Statements, testimonies ‘all lies’By Nathaniel R. Melican |Philippine Daily Inquirer
On the eve of the sixth anniversary of Ruby Rose Barrameda’s death comes news of a development which may lead to the collapse of the case filed against the suspects who include the victim’s husband, father-in-law and uncle-in-law.
On Tuesday, state witness Manuel Montero told the Malabon Regional Trial Court Branch 170 that because his conscience was bothering him, he was retracting all of his previous testimonies which, according to him, were full of falsehoods.
He also said that he did not wish to be a state witness any longer as he asked for forgiveness from all of the accused.
“The statements I gave to the court about the accused in the case of Ruby Rose Barrameda-Jimenez were not true and were all lies,” Montero said in a 12-page notice of withdrawal of consent and testimony sent to the court by courier.
He added that the testimonies he gave in court were false and that some people only coached him to say these things. However, he did not name those behind the ploy, saying he feared for his life.
“It is not true that Lope Jimenez and his brother Atty. Manuel Jimenez Jr. and even Manuel Jimenez III ordered the crime that I mentioned in my statements and testimonies. I was just ordered to [tell] these lies and I agreed because I had a grudge [against] Lope Jimenez [who] was my former employer,” Montero said.
He went on to clear the other accused in the case as he also denied being involved in the victim’s kidnapping and killing.
“There was no abduction of Ruby Rose. It is not true that I gave the order to [kidnap her to] the accused Eric, Spyke and Obet. I don’t even know the real name of Obet. All of us had no involvement in the disappearance of Ruby Rose. We did not kill Ruby Rose…,” he added.
Montero, a former employee of the Jimenezes, earlier admitted in sworn statements he issued in May and June 2009 and in his testimonies that he was part of the plan to kill Barrameda.
The order, he said, came from her father-in-law Manuel Jimenez Jr. and his brother Lope Jimenez who were looking out for the interest of the victim’s husband, Manuel Jimenez III, with whom she was having a legal dispute over the custody of their children.
He also tagged three others in the plot—Eric Fernandez, Robert [Obet] Ponce and Lennard “Spyke” Descalso. Montero earlier said the four of them had kidnapped the victim, killed her and then stuffed her body into a drum full of cement.
Her remains were found in the waters off Navotas City on June 10, 2009, more than two years after she disappeared while on her way to her estranged husband’s house to visit their children.
The twist in the case developed nearly a month after the Court of Appeals lifted its previous order, paving the way for the resumption of the hearings on the case which had been indefinitely postponed. It also allowed Montero, whose petition had been previously denied, to turn state witness.
“The truth is the accused in the case did not commit anything wrong and they did not have any part in the case. Even I am not involved in the case. That’s why my first plea was ‘not guilty,’” Montero said.
He further said that he and the other accused did not throw the drum which contain Barrameda’s body into the waters off Navotas where it would be later be found by the police.
According to him, the drum came from Bacoor, Cavite, and was “planted” only a few days before “I was taught to pinpoint the accused.”
Montero said he was setting the record straight because he was being bothered by his conscience as he was accusing “innocent people.”
“I hope this statement will mitigate my lies and faults. I ask for forgiveness from all the accused,” he added as he stressed that no one forced him to execute the 12-page notice of withdrawal of consent and testimony.
The document was signed by Montero with his wife Irene and their daughter, Michelle Ann, serving as witnesses.
In a television interview, Rochelle Barrameda, the victim’s sister, expressed surprise and dismay over the development.
The Barramedas will attend a Holy Mass and a press conference set for Thursday in commemoration of Ruby Rose’s death anniversary.