MANILA, Philippines - The families of murder victims Ruby Rose Barrameda and Venson Evangelista sought an audience with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Friday to follow up on their respective cases.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ruby Rose's sister, actress Rochelle Barrameda, bared that she, along with her father, Robert, and mother, Asuncion, discussed with De Lima the possibility of having recently captured accused Robert Ponce turn state witness.
Ponce was arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Cauayan, Isabela on the strength of a warrant of arrest issued by the Malabon City Regional Trial Court (RTC). He admitted his participation in the crime.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is now evaluating Ponce's possible discharge as an accused.
"Willing kami mag-state witness siya, kahit ano para sa ikalulutas ng kaso ni Ruby Rose," Rochelle said.
The Barramedas also discussed with De Lima possible remedies against the injunction issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) in February in favor of accused Manuel Jimenez, Jr., Ruby Rose's father-in-law, who petitioned for the inhibition of trial judge Zaldy Docena for his alleged partiality towards the Barramedas.
The Barramedas also asked De Lima to check on the real condition of Jimenez who is in hospital arrest.
"Wala kami way para ma-check siya, baka strategy lang, sakit-sakitan," Rochelle said.
The Barramedas called on authorities to locate and capture accused Lope Jimenez, Manuel, Jr's brother, and his driver, Eric Fernandez. They also urged De Lima to push for the continued detention of Ponce at the NBI headquarters in Manila.
De Lima said the proper manifestation should be made in court requesting for Ponce's continued detention at the NBI headquarters.
Ruby Rose went missing in March 2007. Her body was found on June 10, 2009 stuffed in a cemented drum and dropped off the waters of Navotas City.
Venson Evangelista case
For his part, Venson's father, Arsenio Evangelista, said he talked to the justice secretary to discuss discussed the delays in the trial of his son with the justice chief.
Evangelista lamented the slow pace of the trial, and pointed out that he wanted prosecution witness "Jojo" to finally be presented in court. "Jojo" will reportedly corroborate the testimony of slain state witness Alfred Mendiola on the involvement of the Dominguez carnapping and carjacking syndicate in Venson's murder.
The Evangelistas refuse to put "Jojo" under the DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP), following Mendiola's death. Mendiola was under the WPP when he was gunned down.
"Kami na lang mag-sesecure sa kanya ("Jojo") kasi medyo nagkaroon ng lapse sa security ni Mendiola," Evangelista said.
Evangelista expressed fear that with the slow pace of the trial, the prosecution may just lose all its witnesses.
"Baka maubos na witness namin," he said.
He said he received assurance from De Lima that she will instruct state prosecutors handling Venson's case to push for a speedier trial.
Venson, a car dealer like his father, went missing on Jan. 13, 2011. He was last seen with two men who had expressed interest in buying a Toyota Land Cruiser he and his father were selling.