Mother, partner charged over soldiers’ ambush acquitted
MANILA, Philippines — A Taguig court acquitted a 30-year-old mother and her live-in partner of the murder and the frustrated murder of two soldiers five years after being arrested because the prosecution failed to present any evidence of their involvement.
Maria Miradel Torres and her live-in partner, Romeo Pasoot Jr., were arrested in 2014 for the ambush of two members of the Alpha Company of the 16th Infantry Battalion.
Pfc. Fernando Lopez was killed in the ambush while his companion, Pfc. Ronald Bamba, was injured.
In a 26-page decision by the Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 153, the prosecution failed to present other evidence to prove that Torres and Pasoot were involved in the ambush.
Torres said she was not in Quezon province when the ambush happened because she and her partner were in Laguna at that time. She was pregnant with her second child when she was arrested and gave birth in prison.
According to reports, she was arrested on June 20, 2014, in Lucena, but she said she was then in Mauban, which is far from Lucena.
Torres said she was with her relatives at that time recuperating from vaginal bleeding.
On the other hand, her partner’s father testified that Pasoot Jr. was celebrating his birthday in Laguna on the day the ambush occurred in Quezon.
The court said that, while alibi was considered a weak defense, it had to rule in favor of the accused.
The prosecution’s sole witness, Bamba, the survivor of the ambush, admitted that the names of the accused came from an “intel report” and that he identified Torres on the photos shown to him.
The court also noted that Bamba was able to identify Torres during the bail hearing only because she was the only female detainee in court at that time.
It added that Bamba was also not able to identify Pasoot when he was asked in open court.
“Has the prosecution proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt? The court is not persuaded,” read the decision.
“It is oft-repeated that the finding of guilt must rest on the evidence of the prosecution not on the weakness or even absence of evidence for the defense. Thus, it is required that every circumstance favoring the innocence of the accused must be duly taken into account.”
In this case, the court said, “the evidence of the prosecution was unable to pass the exacting test of moral certainty that the law demands.”
The court ordered the immediate release of Torres and Pasoot Jr.
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