by Jojo De Guzman
Publish in Malaya.com
BALER, Aurora. – A detained regional official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army facing charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder in connection with the ambush-killing of two soldiers and a civilian and the wounding of three others in nearby San Luis town over 14 years ago is now free after being acquitted.
In a 13-page decision penned by Baler RTC Branch 91 Judge Jude Erwin Alaba acquitted Delfin Pimentel of San Luis.
In acquitting Pimentel, the court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt after one of the witnesses testified he did not see Pimentel at the time of the ambush and disowned his affidavit wherein the accused supposedly introduced himself to the survivors.
Pimentel, who carries the aliases Ka Crispin, Ka Medy, Ka Liben and Tanda, is a member of the executive committee of the CPP-NPA’s Central Luzon Regional Committee (CLRC) and had been the secretary of the rebel group’s Aurora
Provincial Committee since 2002. He and his wife Imelda Estrella were arrested v in September 2009 in Dingalan town for murder, multiple murder, and multiple frustrated murder.
At the time of his arrest, Pimentel was listed as the PNP’s “most wanted man” with a P2.6-million bounty on his head.
Pimentel was linked to a series of ambuscades against military officers in the province and in the killings of seven former NPA members who later became government intelligence agents.
Pimentel is also under detention for charges of illegal possession of firearms, a non-bailable offense, following the seizure of two M-16 rifles, a shotgun and three hand grenades in 2009.
The cases against Pimentel stemmed after a group of armed men, allegedly led by him fired at a civilian vehicle loaded with soldiers and civilian passengers in Barangay Diteki, San Luis on February 9, 2000.
Killed were Private First Class (Pfc) Mario Dasalla, Pfc. Julio Angeles and Alexander Castañeda. Wounded were Corporal Benigno Martin and civilians Belmor Baldebarona and Charden Baldebarona.
Four months later, an information was filed before the court against Pimentel in connection with the killing. After the filing of the information, then Presiding Judge Rebecca Mariano issued the warrant for his arrest.
On cross-examination, Belmor admitted that his affidavit was already prepared by someone he did not know and he was just asked to sign it.
Another witness, Martin admitted not seeing the gunmen who fired at them, hinting only that he suspected Pimentel was one of them because he was then the highest commander of the NPA in the province.
The court also cited the failure of the prosecution to present circumstantial evidence that would sufficiently prove the guilt of the accused.
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