DOJ wants all Enzo Pastor murder cases in one court
MANILA, Philippines—Two courts for one crime? The justice department said there should only be one.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion for consolidation of the murder cases against the wife of international race car champion Ferdinand “Enzo” Pastor and her alleged lover, which were earlier raffled off to separate courts.
Judge Lita Tolentino-Genilo of the Regional Trial Court Branch 91 is handling the parricide case against Pastor’s widow Dalia Guerrero-Pastor while the murder charge against businessman Domingo “Sandy” De Guzman III is being heard at RTC Branch 85 under Acting Presiding Judge Luisito Cortez, the same sala hearing the murder case against the alleged gunman, PO2 Edgar Angel.
The three were charged for Pastor’s ambush on June 12, 2014, at the intersection of Congressional and Visayas Avenues in Quezon City.
In the motion, Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva said, “it is respectfully prayed that these cases be consolidated, raffled and assigned to only one branch of this court.”
The cases “are closely related and inextricably interwoven with one another,” the DOJ official said in the March 5 motion.
They are “founded on the same facts” and “the prosecution will be presenting common evidence,” she added.
Private prosecutor Leonardo Mendoza II said they also intended to file a motion for consolidation if the DOJ had not filed one.
Mendoza explained that the DOJ sought to consolidate the case against Dalia in RTC Branch 91 to the cases in RTC Branch 85.
One of the grounds for motion to dismiss filed by Dalia’s legal counsel, Redemberto Villanueva, was forum shopping.
The lawyer said there was a violation of forum shopping because two courts were handling cases against her.
“She has a parricide case in branch 91 and murder in branch 85. Different terms but same circumstances and same evidence would be produced, that’s why it is forum shopping,” he said in an earlier interview.
Sought for comment, Mendoza said only a parricide case was filed against Dalia.
The RTC Branch 85 received a copy of the motion on Tuesday, while hearing “the motion for judicial determination of probable cause” on the murder charge filed by De Guzman’s legal counsel.
In the motion filed on Feb. 27, lawyer Dennis Manalo, his lead counsel, said, “the determination of probable cause is a function of the judge. It is not for the provincial fiscal or prosecutor nor the election supervisor to ascertain.”
Mendoza said they opposed the motion because it’s “surplusage” or unnecessary.
“The court is duty-bound to determine probable cause. In fact, within 10 days it should come up with a resolution and issue a warrant of arrest,” Mendoza said in an interview after the hearing.
The regional trial courts cannot issue arrest warrants against Dalia and De Guzman pending the motions filed by their respective counsels.
Judge Cortez ordered the legal counsels of De Guzman and Angel to submit their reply to the prosecution’s opposition in 10 days.
Dalia’s lawyer Villanueva was also given 10 days to file opposition to the motion for consolidation.
During the hearing, the prosecution requested for five days after receiving the respective pleadings of the defense to comment.
The judge set the next compliance hearing on May 19.
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