Barrameda fears missing witness already dead
MANILA – Rochelle Barrameda fears that the missing witness in the murder of her sister Ruby Rose in 2007 may have already been killed after recanting his testimony.
Rochelle challenged Manuel Montero, the suspect-turned-wtiness in the Ruby Rose slay, to surface and make the recantation in person.
Montero, in a notice of withdrawal of consent and testimony, told the Malabon Regional Trial Court Branch 170 on Tuesday that Lope Jimenez, his brother, Atty. Manuel Jimenez, Jr., and Barrameda’s husband, Manuel Jimenez III, did not order Barrameda's murder and that his previous statements and testimonies implicating them were made out of grudge.
Rochelle, however, suspects someone is behind Montero's sudden retraction.
"Hindi ko alam kung buhay pa siya. So siguro kung siya mismo ang magsabi sa buong Pilipinas na talagang 'di niya kayang panindigan ang mga statements na ginawa niya, tuloy, sige. Ipakita niya na walang kinalaman ang dati niyang itinuturo sa amin… Sa aming pamilya, hangga't 'di siya lumalantad, 'di kami maniniwala kung totoo ito," Rochelle told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
Rochelle added that Montero had promised her that he will never back out of the case, believing that the people behind the murder will have him killed anyway.
"Dahil nga sa salaysay na ginawa niya, parang sa akin, may duda ako dahil siguro kung sulat-kamay niya man ito, ginaya na lang at pinagawa sa kanya," Rochelle said, reffering to Montero's recantation statement.
"Iyung huling usap namin noong March 1 sa Camp Bagong Diwa, sinabi niya sa akin na delikado ang buhay niya."
Montero surfaced in 2009, two years after Ruby Rose was killed. He helped in locating the steel case where the victim's body was placed.
Alleged henchmen Eric Fernandez, Lennard Descalzo, and Robert Ponce, according to Montero, were tasked to abduct Ruby Rose from the Jimenez residence in Las Piñas City after visiting her children and bring her to the Buena Suerte Jimenez Fishing and Trading Compound, owned by Lope, where she would be killed.
He said Ruby Rose was strangled to death and was placed inside a steel drum, which was cemented before it was finally put inside a steel casing.
The steel case was transferred to a tug boat at the Navotas fishport and then thrown into the sea.
Due to Montero's testimony, murder charges were filed against Manuel Jr., Lope, Fernandez, Descalzo, and Ponce.
Ruby Rose’s husband, Manuel Jimenez III, had been cleared of involvement in the murder.
Among the suspects, only Lope and Fernandez remain at large. Manuel Jr. is under hospital arrest.
Lope's legal counsel, Ferdinand Topacio, said he also wants Montero to surface so the court can finally decide whether it will accept the recantation.
While the Jimenezes are considered direct beneficiaries of the recantation, it is unfair for his client to be immediately tagged in the sudden change of heart of Montero.
"Ang mga akusado ay may karapatan din. They are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. That is very unfair for my client," he said.
Topacio claims he has not yet talked to Lope since the murder charges were filed.