Court junks charges, but broadcaster Jay Sonza stays in jail
A Quezon City court has junked the charges of syndicated estafa and large-scale illegal recruitment against former broadcaster Jay Sonza after the private complainants did not show up in court to affirm the charges they filed against him.
“Private complainants failed to appear. This is not the first time that they failed to appear,” read the order signed by presiding Judge Editha Miña-Aguba of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 77 on Thursday, dismissing the charges against the 67-year-old Sonza.
Since the complainants did not object to Sonza’s motion to dismiss the case, the judge ordered the charges to be “provisionally dismissed.”
This means that the case may be revived within two years if there is new evidence or reason to reopen it.
In a separate order dated Aug. 8, Judge Rafael Hipolito of Quezon City RTC Branch 215 also provisionally dismissed the illegal recruitment case against Sonza.Remain detained
The judge noted the manifestation of Assistant City Prosecutor Raphael Joseph Seares, with the prosecutor noting that “despite his serious efforts to reach out to the private complainants … all failed to coordinate with him.”
Despite this, the ex-broadcaster will remain detained at the Quezon City Jail-Ligtas COVID Center Quarantine Facility in Payatas, where he has been committed since Aug. 3, as he faces other cases.Details of the dismissed and pending charges against Sonza remained unclear at press time.
But Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) spokesperson Jail Chief Insp. Jayrex Bustinera said Sonza’s cases include: 11 counts of estafa before Quezon City RTC Branch 100 and a libel case in Quezon City RTC Branch 77.
He will be staying temporarily at the quarantine facility pending the issuance of health clearances for COVID-19 and tuberculosis before he could be transferred to Quezon City Jail.
The BJMP official said the concerned Quezon City courts have not yet issued an order calling for the release of Sonza.
Sonza, a radio and television host since the 1980s, was bound for Hong Kong when he was detained by immigration personnel last July 18 over the criminal cases against him. He was then turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation-Airport Investigation Division, where he was served with his pending warrants of arrest.
The arraignment and pretrial hearing on his libel case are scheduled on Aug. 18, while the bail amount is set at P10,000.