KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/17 July)— After languishing in jail for five years, a former mayor of Tampakan, South Cotabato, site of the largest known undeveloped copper and gold deposit in Southeast Asia, was acquitted Monday of murder charges involving a political rival.
Judge Jansen Rodriguez of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 6 ruled that there was insufficient evidence against ex-mayor Bienvenido Barroso in the slaying of Gregorio Banal on July 28, 2004.
Barroso’s FaceBook page was filled with congratulatory messages following his acquittal.
He was nabbed in July 2007 inside the Tampakan municipal hall by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by National Capital Region Judicial Branch 55 Judge Jose Mendoza.
Barroso was then a few weeks into his first term as mayor during the arrest.
His uncle, Henry Barroso, was also included in the arrest warrant but the latter reportedly remains in hiding to date.
Barroso is the son of Claudius Barroso, the town mayor at the time of the killing of Banal, who was shot at close range by one of three men riding on a motorcycle near the municipal hall.
The younger Barroso, tagged as the alleged mastermind, was then the municipal administrator. Months after the slaying, he was arrested and detained for about a month at the Tampakan municipal station.
Then municipal judge Marie Ellengrid Baliguat on November 26, 2004 ordered the young Barroso dropped from the murder case due to insufficient evidence to establish probable cause.
During his second arrest in July 2007 that led to his incarceration at the Manila City jail, Barroso told reporters that he and his family will face the case fair and square and that they’re confident his name will be cleared.
Barroso said the victim’s family was able to secure a reconsideration of the case from the Manila court despite a ruling by the Department of Justice that there’s no probable cause to charge him.
Eumir Tiamzon, former lawyer of Barroso, said the decision acquitting the former mayor was final and that it cannot be appealed anymore.
The Barroso family is an old political hand in Tampakan. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)