Glorietta blast: Court paves way for trial of two suspects
The Court of Appeals has paved the way for the prosecution of the two accused in the Glorietta blast in Ayala Center in Makati City on Oct. 19, 2007 that led to the death of 11 people and injuring 108 others.
In a 16-page decision, the CA’s Tenth Division through Associate Justice Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Ricardo Cruz, an engineer, and Miguel Velasco Jr. assailing the resolution of the Department of Justice that held them criminally liable for the blast.
Cruz was the Operations Manager of Metaline Enterprises, while Velasco was its foreman under Metaline Enterprises, the contractor of Makati Supermarket Corp. where the explosion occurred.
Metaline was contracted by the Ayala group to install the ventilation system in its basement.
Investigators ruled out bomb explosion. 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.
In ruling against the petitioners, the appellate court upheld the findings of the DoJ in finding 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 ruled that the DoJ did not commit grave abuse of discretion in filing the criminal charges against Cruz and Velasco, saying it is 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,” the appellate court ruled.
The CA also pointed out “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.”
The appellate court junked the arguments of the petitioners that they were not among those originally charged by the complainants, specifically the Multi-Agency Investigation Task Force Glorietta, then prepared by P/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 appellate court also dismissed 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.
Besides, the CA noted that the petitioners committed a wrong remedy in appealing the case.