After being junked twice by the Department of Justice, the "Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide" case against actor Richard Gutierrez has now been elevated to the Court of Appeals.
Lorayne Pardo and her lawyers—Atty. Firdausi Abbas, Atty. Ombra Jainal, Atty. Rizaldy Mariano, and Atty. Ricardo Moreno of the Abbas Law Firm—filed the Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals last June 21.
In her 34-page Petition for Certiorari, Lorayne Pardo petitioned the Court to: (1) Set aside the two DOJ Resolutions that ordered the case to be dismissed, (2) Affirm the resolution of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite "insofar as the filing of an Information for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide" against the actor, and (3) to appreciate the qualifying circumstance of "abandonment of victim" under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.
Pardo's Grounds for Petition were as follows: (1) That the DOJ "acted with grave abuse of discretion" when it granted Gutierrez's Petition for Review (thereby dismissing the criminal complaint against Gutierrez), and (2) that the DOJ "acted with grave abuse of discretion" when it dismissed Pardo's Petition for Review (which sought to include the qualifying circumstance of "abandonment of victim" to increase the imposable penalty such that he would not be eligible for parole if convicted).
Lorayne, 30, filed the criminal case against the 26-year old actor last July 23, 2009, two months after the death of her husband Nomar Pardo.
Nomar, Richard's personal assistant, died on May 22 last year when the Nissan Skyline that the actor was driving crashed in Silang, Cavite. The 42-year-old Nomar, who was seated in the back of the car, was thrown out of the rear window, and was declared "Dead On Arrival" at a Silang hospital. (CLICK HERE to read related story)
In Lorayne's complaint, she accused the actor of driving the sports car "fast and with reckless imprudence" and of leaving her husband on the scene of the crash without giving him immediate assistance.
Gutierrez, however, denied both accusations in his counter-affidavit and in subsequent interviews to the press.
Cavite Provincial Chief Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco believed the accusation that the actor had been "overspeeding," and he found "probable cause" to charge Richard with reckless imprudence resulting to homicide on September 18, 2009. Velasco, however, did not include the qualifying circumstance of abandonment in the charge. (CLICK HERE to read related story)
In response, Gutierrez's lawyers—Atty. Gener Asuncion and Atty. Sheryl Mallari of the Belo Gozon Elma Parel Asuncion Lucila (BGEPAL) Law Offices—petitioned the DOJ on October 7, 2009 to reverse the prosecutor's finding of probable cause.
Pardo also petitioned the DOJ on the same date to include in the charge the qualifying circumstance of abandonment of the victim, which would have increased the penalty for reckless imprudence that could be imposed on Gutierrez to more than six (6) years of imprisonment.
On March 1 this year, the DOJ through former Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera issued a Resolution that granted Gutierrez's petition, thereby resulting in the case's dismissal. (CLICK HERE to read related story)
In response, Pardo's camp filed on March 22 a motion for reconsideration of the DOJ resolution. This motion was denied by former Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra on May 28, thus causing Pardo to file a Petition for Certiorari with the CA on June 21.
RECENT DEVELOPMENT. The Pardo camp also recently filed five other cases related to the criminal case against Richard Gutierrez.
These are: (1) a disbarment case against former Justice Secretaries Devanadera and Agra; (2) a disbarment case against Quezon City Judge Ofelia Arellano-Marquez, the judge who approved the bail posted by the actor on September 23, 2009; (3) a criminal case against Dr. Jose Oreta Jr. of St. Luke's Medical Center, the doctor who issued for the actor last February 9 a medical certificate to excuse him from his scheduled arraignment the next day; (4) an administrative case against Gutierrez and his lawyers Atty. Asuncion and Atty. Mallari for using the said medical certificate in Court; and, (5) a case to revoke the notarial authority of Atty. Christine Bio, the lawyer who notarized the actor's medical certificate.
In an interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) last July 2 in his office in Greenhills, San Juan, Pardo's lawyer Atty. Abbas said they filed with the Supreme Court on July 1 the disbarment case against Devanadera and Agra because they were "biased" for the Gutierrezes.
In particular, Abbas said Devanadera and the Gutierrezes have an "amicable relationship."
"We don't have any proof but there was the rumor floating that the Gutierrezes offered their support and her services in her campaign," he said, referring to Devanadera's candidacy for Representative of Quezon Province last elections.
Atty. Abbas also accused Agra of being "biased" because he allegedly has an "utang na loob" to Devanadera, his mentor.
"What Agra did in confirming it... was just to do a farewell to a person who actually considers him a protégé," said Atty. Abbas.
JURISDICTION. In the same interview, Atty. Abbas also revealed that they filed with the Supreme Court on July 2 a disbarment case against Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Arellano-Marquez because she approved the bail of Gutierrez despite the fact that the case was "outside her jurisdiction."
It will be recalled that on September 22, 2009, Presiding Judge Ma. Victoria Cupin-Tesorero of the Metropolitan Circuit Trial Court of Silang, Cavite issued a Warrant of Arrest against the actor. The bail recommended was P30,000.
Gutierrez, however, did not post bail in Cavite but in Quezon City. On September 23, 2009, he posted the 30,000 cash bail with the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. Judge Arellano-Marquez approved the bail and recalled the warrant against the actor, and authorized his temporary liberty.
In their nine-page Complaint for disbarment, Pardo's lawyers argued that the Judge's action "constitute a serious breach of her duties and responsibilities as member of the judicial system."
MEDICAL CERTIFICATE. On February 10, 2010, Gutierrez failed to show up at his scheduled arraignment for the Reckless Imprudence charge at the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Silang, Cavite. To justify his absence, his lawyers, Atty. Asuncion and Atty. Mallari, presented to the Court a medical certificate stating that the actor was suffering from "acute gastroenteritis" and was "physically unfit for travel." Judge Cupin-Tesorero then agreed to reset the arraignment to March 31. (CLICK HERE to read related story)
Atty. Abbas said they filed separate cases against Dr. Oreta, Atty. Bio, Gutierrez, Atty. Asuncion, and Atty. Mallari, because the medical certificate was "false."
"We filed a case against yung doctor, Jose Oreta ng St. Luke's, for issuing a false medical certificate,"Atty. Abbas explained. "Kasi in that medical certificate, he placed that he examined Richard Gutierrez and found him to be suffering from gastroenteritis, dehydration, and that he feels very weak and unfit to travel. That's dated February 9."
Atty. Abbas stressed that the actor was visibly healthy on the same date. On February 9, Atty. Abbas said he learned that Gutierrez was present in the office of Devanadera at the DOJ to finalize his amicable settlement with PEP. (CLICK HERE to read related story)
"So clearly, the medical certificate was false," he said. "So we filed a case against Oreta for issuing a false medical certificate, in violation of Article 174 of the Revised Penal Code."
Consequently, Atty. Cristine Bio, who notarized the medical certificate, was similarly at fault, Abbas said. "We also filed a case against the notary public for violation of the Notarial Law... She notarized the document where she has an interest, or derived benefit, because this was beneficial to the accused and to the law firm to reset the arraignment. She's part of the law firm."
He added, "And we also filed a case against actor Gutierrez, Atty. Gener Asuncion, and Atty. Sheryl Mallari, for using a false medical certificate in violation of Article 175 of the Revised Penal Code, because that medical certificate was used by them again in resetting the arraignment of Richard Gutierrez, and justifying his absence."
NO REACTION. PEP tried to get the side of the other camps mentioned in this article. Most of them refused to comment, and some were unreachable as of press time.
Devanadera, who is out of the country at present, refused to be interviewed. In a text message sent to PEP Managing Editor Karen Pagsolingan on July 3, 3:36 p.m., Devanadera said, "The disbarment, in the order of things now, is not an important news. Why not help the new Pres with news that will keep our people inspired and hopeful on P-noy's promises. Mabuhay tayo!"
On the other hand, Pagsolingan tapped a close source to send a text message to Agra last Monday, July 5. We we received no reply from the former DOJ chief, so the source contacted Agra's chief of staff, who told PEP, "Baka hindi na mag-comment."
Pagsolingan was also able to get in touch with the BGEPAL lawyers last Monday, and they decided to decline from issuing any comment.
PEP also tried to establish contact with Judge Arellano-Marquez by going to the Quezon City Hall of Justice last Tuesday, July 6. PEP learned, however, that the Judge had already retired last January.
A staff of Arellano-Marquez (who refused to be identified by name in this article) at Branch 216 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court said they do not know the judge's present address and contact details. "Hindi na siya pumapasok since she retired last January," she told PEP. "70 years old na siya, at baka sa probinsiya na nakatira."
PEP also visited Dr. Oreta's clinic at St. Luke's Hospital in Quezon City, but learned that the doctor is currently on vacation in the United States. His secretary, Mariz Borromeo, told PEP that Oreta left last June 10 and may return on July 12.
Borromeo gave PEP Oreta's calling card, so we were able to send two e-mail messages to him on Tuesday, June 6, at 12:22 p.m., and on Wednesday, June 7, at 4:19 p.m. We have received no reply as of press time.
PEP is open to reactions from any of the camps mentioned above, should they choose to air their side on the matter at a later date.