BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Bacolod Regional Trial Court Branch 45 Judge Phoebe Gargantiel-Balbin has granted the petition for certiorari filed by Ricardo Yanson Jr. assailing orders issued by Bacolod Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 7 Judge Abraham Bayona, finding a probable cause and issuing an arrest warrant against him.
In granting the petition, Judge Balbin, in a decision dated March 1, said that the assailed orders issued by the respondent judge, dated July 23, Aug. 5, 6, 17 and 27 last year, are annulled and set aside, for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Judge Balbin added that criminal proceedings for grave coercion against Ricardo Yanson Jr. are held in abeyance pending resolution of the pending prejudicial question before the commercial court.
The Bacolod RTC Branch 45 judge, however, clarified that nullification of the subject orders, does not entail the dismissal of the instituted criminal cases, but would merely result in the suspension of proceedings in view of the prejudicial question.
Yanson, in his urgent motion, with alternative prayer to suspend proceedings and hold in abeyance issuance of arrest warrant, cited grounds such as existence of a prejudicial question alleging that there is a pending resolution for commercial cases before RTC-Bacolod Branch 53; and the criminal complaint against the accused were premised was already dismissed, hence, the complaint is further bereft of any legal and actual foundation; elements of grave coercion are absent, and the criminal complainant is not authorized by the owner of the subject vehicles – VTI – the alleged offended party.
The issue before RTC-Branch 53, which involves an intra-corporate dispute, to the mind of the court, needs to be resolved first before the criminal case may proceed, Balbin said.
Carlo Joaquin Narvasa, in a press statement he issued, said that granting the petition, confirms that a prejudicial question indeed exists, as there is a pending issue in a prior case before RTC-Branch 53, which must first be resolved before the criminal case against him may proceed.
The resolution of that issue would be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case, Narvasa said.
The Yanson siblings, composed of Leo Rey, Ginnette, Ricardo Jr. Ricky, Emily and Celina, are locked in a legal battle over the control of the Yanson Group of Bus Companies, the biggest transport company in the country.*