2 Army men get 139 years each for killing 7
- Evelyn Macairan () - August 1, 2006 - 12:00am
A Manila City judge sentenced two Army men to each serve a total of 139 years in prison while a civilian cohort was meted 78 years after they were found guilty of killing seven people and seriously wounding two others at a billiard hall in Oriental Mindoro six years ago.

Judge Myra Garcia-Fernandez, of Manila RTC Branch 18 , said T/Sgt. Jobe Rubio and Sgt. Marcial Ambulo, members of the Philippine Army stationed at the 14th Infantry Batallion in Barangay San Isidro, Victoria, Mindoro Oriental, were sentenced to suffer the maximum penalty of 17 years for each count of murder and 10 years for each of the two counts of frustrated homicide.

Civilian Jaime Gilboy, tagged as an accomplice, was ordered to serve the maximum jail term of 10 years for homicide and another four years for two counts of frustrated homicide.

The court ruled they were responsible for the deaths of Cesar Matibag, Honorio Metrillo, Leo Tibayan, Larry Atienza and brothers Eugene, Aniceto and Andres Bagsic, who figured in an altercation with the Army men.

They were all shot in the head.

Danilo Asilo, who survived the attack, told the court he was hit in the right side of the forehead and the left side of his back. Another survivor, Aida Metrillo, was shot in the kidney.

The accused were ordered to pay a total of P1.4 million in indemnity and damages.

Despite the guilty ruling, relatives of the victims said they were not happy with the decision.

Nie Rivera, an aunt of Atienza, said the accused deserved the death penalty as punishment for their act.

"Kung ano and kinuha dapat yun din ang kapalit. Yung kapatid kong si Violeta na nanay niya lagi nagkakasakit, nanghihina at palaging inaatake ng kanyang
diabetes," she said in between sobs.

Mario Manalo, an uncle of the three Bagsic brothers, said his sister would have attended the promulgation if not for the heavy rains. "Kung nandito ang nanay nilang si Nesitas, malamang hinimatay yun. Hindi ako kuntento sa decision. Ang expected namin ay convicted sila na kung may bitay, bitay sila o life imprisonment. Ang tama ng mga pamangkin ko puro sa ulo."

Fernandez said the accused "failed to prove with clear and convincing evidence their plea of self defense, either complete or incomplete."

The judge noted the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the accused.

There was no other weapon found in the crime scene except for the two firearms which the two accused surrendered. Five of the victims were found dead inside the billiard hall and not inside a house as the accused claim.

All seven were shot at close range from a distance of about two feet.

"After a careful analysis of the evidence on record, this court finds that the version of the prosecution is more worthy of belief because the statements of the prosecution witnesses were consistent," the judge said.

Fernandez, however, downgraded the offense from seven counts of murder and two counts of frustrated murder to seven counts of homicide and two counts of frustrated homicide because of the lack of qualifying circumstances of treachery.

He added that abuse of superior strength cannot be taken against the accused.

Court records showed that at around 8:30 p.m. of April 3, 2000, the accused were inside Aida Metrillo’s restaurant and were discussing about an earlier misunderstanding with a group at a billiard hall located a block away.

Thirty minutes later, Rubio and Gilboy left the restaurant. Aida said she then heard gunshots. The accused, who fired the warning shots, had ordered several men to lie face down in front of the billiard hall.

Ambulo and Gilboy’s wife, Marissa, then pacified their companions and asked them to return to the restaurant. The three accused continued their drinking session.

When Aida’s husband arrived, he said he was among those who were ordered to lie on the ground and instructed his wife to close the restaurant. Ambulo stood up and kicked the door of the restaurant before leaving.

Later, the couple passed by the billiard hall to inform their friends that they were headed home.

As they left the billiard hall, the two Army men blocked their path and pointed their guns at them.

When Metrillo attempted to grab the gun, the shooting rampage began .

Aida was confined for seven days at the Maria Estrella Clinic. Four days later, she learned that her husband, along with Tibayan, Atienza, Matibag died in the attack. The other victims later died at a hospital.

Rabio turned himself over to his superiors while Ambulo escaped and was later arrested in Cavite.

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