Insufficient evidence presented by the police resulted in last week’s dismissal of a 14-year old murder case against a farmer who was one of the two accused in the hacking incident in San Andres.
Citing the lack of evidence supplied by law enforcement officers who were remiss in gathering data during their investigation, the Regional Trial Court acquitted Ronnie Antonio Solero, 43, of the crime.
“While this Court commiserates with the family of the victim, however, it needed proof beyond reasonable doubt to convict the accused,” RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras said in her 15-page decision.
After more than a decade on the run from the law, Solero was apprehended on July 18, 2019 in Monreal, Masbate by joint elements of the local police and the Catanduanes police.
Solero, who is No. 41 in the list of the Bicol region’s most wanted persons, was accused, along with Jose Manlangit Gianan, of hacking to death Randy Jaula at around 6:30 P.M. of Dec. 28, 2006 at Batong Paloway.
According to the prosecution, the group of Gerald Jaule, Randy Jaula, Joseph Facundo, Jordan Bas, Jose Sodela, Crisanto Sodela and many others were having a conversation at the sari-sari store of Elisa Sodela at Kailihan, Batong Paloway at the time when Solero and Gianan suddenly arrived armed with bolos.
When the armed duo were near, the group heard Solero utter: “Kamong mga tambay, taragaan kita.”
Upon hearing these words, the group ran away but Randy was caught by Ronnie and Jose. Jayson saw the two suspects helping each other in hacking Ronnie, who fell down when he was hit on the head. The suspects then carried Ronnie to a fenced compound where they again hacked his helpless body.
Jayson tried to help Randy but as he came near, Ronnie hit him on the nape with a hard object.
He was prompted to seek assistance from Pelagio Solero and Rene Bas, with the suspects immediately leaving the scene. The victim was brought to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
During the trial, Jayson stood firm in his declaration that the two accused helped each other hack Randy inside Ronnie’s house. However, Pelagio categorically said that Jayson informed him that the hacking occurred in Ronnie’s compound.
“This disparity in the statement of prosecution’s witnesses could have been resolved if only the investigator on the case, SPO3 Quenciano Gianan II, was thorough and meticulous in the performance of his duties,” the Court said.
Aside from failing to record his observations in the police blotter, SPO3 Gianan could no longer the information he gathered during his investigation, it added, which would have helped establish an accurate and true version of the incident.