QC prosecutor drops perjury case vs woman who sued Belo over ‘botched butt job’By Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City chief prosecutor has dropped a perjury charge filed against a woman who previously filed a complaint against celebrity cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo and two other doctors of the Belo Medical Group (BMG) for an allegedly botched butt-augmentation procedure.
Likewise, city prosecutor Donald Lee upheld a June 8 resolution by the assistant city prosecutor dismissing charges of estafa and illegal practice of medicine against Belo and surgeons Ronaldo Cayetano and Francis Decangchon.
In his seven-page resolution, Lee resolved that businesswoman Josefina Norcio did not lie under oath when she filled out an investigation data form attached to her second complaint-affidavit for estafa and violation of the Medical Act of 1959 filed in May this year. In that form, she answered “no” when asked if she had filed cases similar or related to the one she was filing.
Belo charged Norcio with perjury, in June, for allegedly lying under oath about “filing a similar complaint before any other office” and “filing a complaint related to another case filed before the office,” which were asked in an investigation data form.
The cosmetic surgeon alleged that the first and second complaints filed by Norcio against her and members of the BMG, which were both subsequently dismissed, were identical and referred to the same set of facts and circumstances on the alleged botched butt augmentation procedure. The first complaint against Belo and the two surgeons for estafa, reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries and violation of the Consumer Act was dismissed and a review of the resolution was sought with the Department of Justice.
Belo further claimed that Norcio perjured herself when she did not openly declare the first complaint, the petition for review, which has been pending with the DOJ as well as the administrative complaint filed with the Professional Regulation Commission.
While assistant city prosecutor Fabinda Delos Santos resolved to dismiss the second complaint against Belo and the two doctors, she had found probable cause to charge Norcio with perjury ruling that the second complaint of estafa was similar to the first filed and that the businesswoman admitted that a petition for review has been pending before the DOJ pertaining to the first complaint.
Delos Santos concluded, “Respondent (Norcio) committed perjury when she answered NO in the Investigation Data Form, the following questions: Has a similar complaint been filed before any other office? Is this complaint related to another case before this office? And by certifying under oath that she has not commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency.”
But Lee disagreed with Delos Santos’ recommendation that Norcio be indicted for perjury, pointing out the lack of basis to do so.
“It must be emphasized that the requirement in the investigation data form for the disclosure of any other similar or related cases aside from the one being filed is to ensure against forum shopping,” the city prosecutor pointed out.
He said, “There is no dispute that Ms. Norcio failed to state and disclose in the investigation data form of this instant complaint that she previously filed with this office said complaint … as well as the complaint for revocation of license pending with the PRC. Such criminal complaint had already been resolved by our office in favor of the respondents (Belo et al) but the resolution of which is still the subject of a petition for review before the DOJ.”
Lee stressed, “Based on obtaining facts and circumstances, we hold that such failure is not fatal or is insignificant since the rule on forum shopping does not apply.”
He explained that the only similarity between the first and second complaints was the estafa charge, He, however, pointed out that while the first estafa complaint was for the alleged misrepresentation on the safety of the hydrogel used for the butt augmentation procedure, the second was based on the alleged pretense of being qualified to undertake the cosmetic surgery.
The charges and counter-charges between Norcio and Belo emanated from the businesswoman’s claim in 2009 that she got infected and her life could have been endangered by a botched butt job she underwent twice with the BMG clinic in 2002 and 2005.