Posted 4:30 p.m. March 1, 2006
The six farmers accused of killing brothers Michael and Paul Quintos – sons of a local landlord in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro – on Dec. 13, 1997 were meted out the death penalty this morning in an 80-page decision by Judge Teresita Yadao of Branch 81, Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Manolito Matricio, Eduardo Hermoso, Mario Tobias, Josue Ungsod, Ruel Bautista, and Ruben Balaguer – who had been charged together with Mamburao local politician Jose Villarosa, a known political opponent of the victims’ father Ricardo – were all meted the maximum penalty of death even as the Lucio de Guzman Command of the clandestine New People’s Army (NPA) had earlier admitted to the killing. Meanwhile, Villarosa has yet to be sentenced.
In an interview with Bulatlat, lawyer Edre Olalia, counsel for three of the accused, said the farmers – who were locked in a land dispute with Quintos – ended up as “sacrificial lambs” in a battle between their accuser and Villarosa.
“They could not have been the killers of the Quintos brothers,” Olalia added. “Aside from the NPA’s public admission of the killing, there are also witnesses testimonies pointing to the perpetrators as all young men. We can see that the ‘Mamburao 6’ are all middle-aged.”
In a separate phone interview, with Bulatlat, Danilo Ramos – chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement) of which the six are all members – hit Yadao for relying too much on the testimony of Hermoso – who, he said, had been “tortured by the goons of Quintos.” Likewise, he scored Yadao for giving “too much credence” to the testimonies of six procesucution witnesses whom he described as “paid hacks” of Quintos.
“Without these testimonies, the case would collapse,” Ramos said.
Ramos also said that their organization plans to contest Yadao’s decision before the Court of Appeals and, if need be, the Supreme Court. “We will definitely fight this out,” Ramos said. “We will exhaust all legal, paralegal and meta-legal means to secure their freedom.” (Bulatlat.com)