Lorayne Pardo's lawyers were in for a surprise today, March 31, when the scheduled arraignment for Richard Gutierrez's Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide case did not push through. It was instead reset to May 26.
The absence of two key persons at the Cavite Municipal Circuit Trial Court this morning, 11 a.m., caused the arraignment hearing's postponement. In fact, Judge Ma. Victoria N. Cupin-Tesorero only presided over a short meeting between Lorayne's lawyer Ombra Jainal, and Richard's lawyers Gener Asuncion, Ma. Lourdes Panganiban, and Sheryl Mallari.
The first key person who did not attend today's arraignment hearing was Public Prosecutor Onofre Maranan. In an interview, an almost speechless Atty. Jainal said they could not proceed with the hearing because Maranan's presence was required.
"Basta criminal case, it's People of the Philippines vs. accused," Jainal told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) over the phone. "The private prosecutors are directed by the public prosecutor."
Jainal added, "Wala si Maranan, so wala tayong magagawa." Court clerks told PEP after the hearing that Maranan instead attended another hearing in Cavite.
The second key person who was absent was the respondent himself, movie and TV actor Richard Gutierrez, who also failed to attend the February 10 arraignment hearing due to what was said to be acute gastroenteritis.
The actor's absence was due to the manifestation and motion he filed to the Cavite court. The said motion asserts that the arraignment hearing should be cancelled because of an existing resolution from the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) that orders the dismissal of the homicide charges.
In another interview, Atty. Abbas, who was not present in today's hearing, told PEP that Gutierrez may have "presumed" that the court will grant the manifestation and motion this morning, and thus, his presence is not anymore required.
The court, however, did not take action on the manifestation and motion and only put it "on paper" because there had been no hearing.
Besides, Atty. Abbas said the court should treat the motion as "scrap paper" because it did not follow the Rules of Court. Section 4, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states: "Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the date of hearing, unless the court for good cause sets the hearing on shorter notice."
Lorayne's camp received their copy of the manifestation and motion on Monday, March 29, only two days before today's hearing. Atty. Abbas said this was "not in compliance" with the rules, and therefore the motion is "useless and should not be accepted for filing" by the court.
The court then ended the short meeting between the lawyers of Richard and Lorayne, and reset the arraignment hearing to May 26.
MOTION TO INHIBIT. Atty. Jainal said he sees "partiality" in favor of the accused in Judge Cupin-Tesorero's handling of the case. This hunch, the lawyer said, will prompt him to file a "motion to inhibit" the Cavite judge.
"That's a possibility, that's an option," he told PEP.
Atty. Abbas, on the other hand, will wait for the resolution of the motion for reconsideration they filed to the DOJ before plotting out their next action. "Hinihintay namin na ma-reverse yung resolution ni [former Justice Secretary] Agnes Devanadera, tapos tuloy-tuloy na 'yan," he said.
Atty. Abbas also said he is also set to file an administrative or criminal case against Devanadera for issuing the "grossly erroneous resolution," which found no probable cause in the Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide case filed against Richard Gutierrez. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
He added, "They [Richard's camp] can have their day now dito sa DOJ at Cavite Municipal Circuit Trial Court, but we will raise the case to the Court of Appeals up to the Supreme Court. I don't think the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court will agree to them."