Doubtful testimony clears man of murder

A MAN was cleared of murdering a witness to his other case because the prosecution failed to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras ruled that Rene Baclaan, accused of killing his neighbor in 2011, is not guilty of murder.

"Conclusively, it is the considered opinion of this court that the prosecution has miserably failed to establish the degree of proof necessary to sustain a conviction of the accused," read Peras' five-page decision.

The Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor indicted Baclaan, alias Insik, for allegedly shooting to death Chester Andaya in Sitio South Road, Barangay Kinasang-an on Dec. 3, 2011.

According to the case filed, Baclaan was angry at Andaya for testifying against him in a frustrated murder case.

A witness said that Andaya was sitting on the roadside with his girlfriend when they were approached by Baclaan and two companions.

Baclaan then pulled out a gun and shot Andaya.

The witness said that Andaya managed to run even though he was hit, but Baclaan and his companions chased him.

Andaya stumbled and fell but the witness said Baclaan caught up with the victim and shot him at close range.

Andaya was rushed to the Cebu City Medical Center but he was declared dead.

Baclaan, in his testimony, said he was in Minglanilla town with his girlfriend and friends attending a birthday party prior to the said time of shooting.

After drinking, they went to Barangay Kinasang-an where they saw a certain Toting shoot Andaya, who was a gang member.

In his decision, Judge Peras said that the witness's testimony is "vacillating" because he told the court he only knew of the shooting from his neighbor.

"Consequently, this court cannot, with the flip-flopping declarations made by the only eyewitnesses to the crime, declare with certainty that it was Baclaan who shot the victim," said Peras.

While Baclaan's innocence may be doubtful, Peras said that Baclaan should be acquitted.

"The constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty can be overthrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt," Peras said.

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