Newly-appointed Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said Saturday that the police has a very strong case against a fishing magnate who has been charged with murder for the gruesome killing of a former actress' sister two years ago.
"It's very difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the drum... On the basis of what the police have gathered, merong malakas na ebidensya (there is a strong evidence)," Devanadera said in an interview over radio dzMM, referring to Manuel Montero, a suspect-turned-witness in the killing of Ruby Rose Jimenez, sister of former actress Rochelle Barrameda.
Montero told police that Jimenez was strangled to death and then her body was placed inside a rectangular steel case filled with cement.
The steel case was loaded into a ship with the use of a forklift and then dumped into the seawaters of Navotas.
The suspect's confession led to the recovery of the body of Jimenez, who went missing in March 2007 while on her way to visit her two children, whose custody has been given by the court to her husband, Manuel "Third" Jimenez III.
Based on Montero's confession, police on Thursday filed murder charges against fishing magnate Lope Jimenez and his brother, lawyer Manuel Jimenez II before the Department of Justice (DOJ). Also charged with murder were Eric Fernandez, Spike Discalzo, Roberto Ponce alias Abet, Rudy de la Cruz and Montero.
Jimenez II, the father or Ruby Rose's estranged husband, has denied involvement in the murder. He claimed he has become estranged from his brother (the fishing magnate) a long time ago.
Devanadera said the Jimenez's are being "presumed innocent, until proven otherwise," but she believes it would be hard for them to break Montero's testimony.
She said the suspects, including the fishing magnate and his brother, have all been included in the Bureau of Immigration's "watchlist."
She said the DOJ has included the Ruby Rose murder case as one of the "very important cases" filed with the department.
Devanadera, meanwhile, denied that she has stopped the National Bureau of Investigation from investigating the case. She said the NBI has been given a supporting role in the investigation.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), the lead law enforcement unit handling the case, said Friday that Montero has admitted that their group was also responsible in several other Mafia-style killings.
Chief Superintendent Roberto Rosales, NCRPO chief, said Montero is guiding them in the recovery of the bodies, also stuffed in drums and encases in cement.
“We received reports that the group are behind other killings so we are validating them. Our witness is helping us in pinpointing the exact location of the bodies,” said Rosales, noting that majority of the supposed victims are business rivals of shipping magnate Lope Jimenez.
Rosales said that after the discovery of Ruby Rose’s body, prominent families have contacted him, claiming Jimenez and his group may have something to do with the killing of their next of kin.
“We are uncovering more killings allegedly authored by the same suspects. I’m asking these relatives to come to my office so we could discuss the cases,” he said.