CA orders prosecution of Glorietta blast accused

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Oct. 12 (PNA) — The Court of Appeals (CA) has given the green light to prosecute the accused in the Glorietta blast in Ayala Center, Makati City on Oct. 19, 2007, which killed 11 persons and injured 108 others.

In a 16-page ruling of the CA Tenth Division written by Associate Justice Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo, it dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Engr. Ricardo Cruz and Miguel Velasco, Jr.

Cruz was the operations manager of Metaline Enterprises (Metaline), the contractor of Makati Supermarket Corp. where the blast took place, while Velasco was Metaline’s foreman.

Metaline was contracted by the Ayala group to install the ventilation system in its basement.

In the course of its investigation, bomb explosion was ruled out.

It was found that the accumulated amounts of methane gas that was produced from the waste water and the diesel vapor in the basement of the MSC Building from Aug. 4 to Oct. 18, 2007 was enough to cause the explosion.

The CA upheld the findings of the Department of Justice (DOJ) of probable cause against Cruz and Velasco for the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, multiple physical injuries and damage to properties.

The CA said that it was within the province of the prosecution to determine probable cause.

“The determination of probable cause for purposes of filing information in court is essentially an executive function that is lodged at the first instance, with the public prosecutor and, ultimately, with the Secretary of Justice,” it added.

The CA also said that “the prosecutor and the Secretary of Justice have wide latitude of discretion in the conduct of preliminary investigation and their findings with respect to the existence or non existence of probable cause are generally not subject to review by the Court.”

With this, the CA ruled that the DOJ did not commit grave abuse of discretion in filing the criminal charges against Cruz and Velasco.

The CA was also not persuaded with the defense of the petitioners that there were not among those originally charged by the complainants, specifically the Multi-Agency Investigation Task Force Glorietta, then prepared by Police Chief Supt. Luizo Ticman.

However, the CA ruled that “what is material is the actual complaint filed by Task Force Glorietta” which is composed of the DOJ panel of prosecutors headed by the late Senior State Prosecutor Leo Dacera.

The CA also did not bite the petitioners’ argument that they shall benefit in the ruling of another division of the CA on Nov. 17, 2008, which cleared the other accused, namely: Clifford Arriola, Joselito Buenaventura, Charlie Nepomuceno, Jonathan Ibuna and Juan Ricaport for lack of due process against them.

It also slammed the petitioners for committing a wrong remedy in appealing the case.

“Again, what the petitioners should have done was to file a petition for review before the Secretary of Justice of the denial of their motion for reconsideration by the panel of prosecutors,” the CA said. (PNA)