The Office of the City Prosecutor handling the Jovelyn Galleno rape and murder case has dropped the charges filed by the police against the only two suspects in the case, noting that the evidence gathered by investigators “miserably” failed to establish probable cause against them and will not stand up in trial.
“We find that the totality of the evidence on record miserably failed to convincingly establish probable cause, either by direct or circumstantial evidence, that the respondents raped and killed the victim,” the resolution, signed by City Prosecutor Carmelina Ceniza-Guevarra, stated.
The resolution stated that the evidence presented by the Puerto Princesa Police Station 2 (PS 2) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Puerto Princesa District Office were not sufficient to establish guilt for both Leobert Dasmariñas and Jovert Valdestamon.
Key to the filing of the complaint was the supposed admission during interrogation by Dasmariñas that they raped and killed the victim and dumped her body in a secluded ravine near her home. The prosecution office, however, pointed out that Dasmariñas’ confession was made under duress. Citing Section 3, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, the City Prosecutor pointed out that “an extrajudicial confession made by an accused, shall not be a sufficient ground for conviction unless corroborated by evidence of corpus delicti.”
Dasmariñas eventually recanted his confession and claimed he was coerced into making an admission by the police, including a city government official.
The supposed corroborating evidence, which was recovered near Dasmariñas’ residence, were also found “highly questionable” as it was found through an “uncounseled confession”.
“Aside from the flawed extra-judicial pieces of evidence thus submitted fail to provide a sufficient combination of circumstances to prove that herein respondents conspired in killing Jovelyn,” the resolution also read.
No evidence for rape
The dismissal also said there was no evidence to establish rape, stating it was not possible to prove with just the examination of the skeletal remains.
“During the clarificatory hearing with P/Lt. Col. Janice Tanguinod of the City Forensic Office, the latter asserted that there was no possible examination that may be conducted on the recovered skeletal remains to establish proof that the victim was sexually assaulted,” the resolution stated.
The recovered garments of Galleno was also found free from any DNA profile that would support the claims for rape.
Skeletal remains says Jovelyn is dead, nothing else
The City Prosecutor also denied the respondents motion for a Carbon 14 dating examination “as it merely attempts to buttress the defense already presented by the respondents should favorable results be obtained”.
The prosecution also stands that there is no need for another DNA testing since they find “no irregularities in the conduct of the 2 other previous DNA tests”.
“While the fact of death of victim Jovelyn may have been convincingly established by the production of the DNA examination reports, an unbroken chain of circumstances establishing her cause of death and positively identifying the respondents as perpetrators of the crime, is lacking at the moment,” the prosecution resolved.
Counsel not surprised with dismissal
Atty. Regidor Tulali, counsel for Dasmarinas, told Palawan News that he expected the case against his client to be dismissed, citing the weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence.
“It’s because mahina talaga ang evidence nila. Ang pinagbasehan nila ay extrajudicial confession lang ni Leobert. Yun ang pinagbasehan ng mga pulis para i-file ang kaso – yung extrajudicial confession na allegedly ni-rape nila bago pinatay. Sino ang magte-testify na ni-rape si Jovelyn? Walang witness dahil patay na si Jovelyn. Tapos ang extrajudicial confession, illegally inferred kasi nga ni retract ni Leobert yon kasi nga under duress siya,” Tulali said.
“Yung media interview naman na kung saan umamin siya, hindi rin ma-admit as evidence. Wala siyang lawyer,” he added.
Tulali, a former prosecutor before shifting to private practice, said the complainant failed to prove important elements that are necessary to establish probable cause against his client.
“Sa pag determine ng probable cause dalawa ang ide-determine mo. Number 1, meron bang crime na na-commit at Number 2, yon bang kinasuhan ng probable na gumawa ng crime. Ito doon pa lang sa probability ng crime na na-commit medyo sablay na kasi rape with homicide,” he said.
Tulali also said that there was no witness who could identify Leobert and Jovert as the individuals who were responsible for the crime committed against Jovelyn. “Sablay din kasi walang eyewitness, ang basis lang extrajudicial confession na ni-retract din.”
He said Jovert has always denied that he had anything to do with the crime, even from the “very beginning,” when he was asked about it as he was in a construction site.
Tulali said that they also requested that the recovered human skeletal remains be carbon-14 dated to determine its true age, but the city prosecution rejected their request, claiming that it was merely an effort to support the defense already put forth by the respondents in the event that the results were favorable.
“Kasi ang kinunan lang nila ng swab yong mother lang, yong biological father wala. Paano maging 99.99 percent yon na si Jovelyn? Dapat both parents. Dahil duda kami, actually, nag-request ako sa fiscal na i-submit yong buto for radio carbon-14 dating to determine yong age ng bone, pero hindi na rin nila inaksyunan,” he said.
Even though the case had been dismissed, he said it was also good to pursue carbon dating for future reference.
PNP, NBI to review the case
Although the resolution lauded the efforts of the PNP and the NBI to bring justice to the Galleno family, the City Prosecutor stands that probable cause should be established through a strong set of evidence.
“Our law enforcement agencies’ collective efforts to regain peace and stability in our community after the sudden uproar brought about by the questionable disappearance and death of Jovelyn Galleno must be commended. However, the rules on evidence establishing probable cause must be upheld,” the resolution read.
City Anti-Crime Task Force chief Richard Ligad, who earlier received flak from meddling with the investigation, declined to comment on the resolution.
“No need hindi naman kasi ako lawyer,” he said through a message.
The Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO) said they will take cue from the review that will be conducted by their legal office.
“We will let our legal office review the case and stand by their suggestions or any legal means, we will give you an update soon,” said P/Lt. Col. Allen Palacio
The NBI Puerto Princesa District stated that they will also review the resolution but remain firm in their investigation. (with reports from Celeste Anna Formoso)