Heavy caseload gets provincial prosecutor off the hook in criminal case

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    A HEAVY case load and being understaffed proved to be a blessing in disguise for former Quezon provincial prosecutor Dione Bustonera, who was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division of alleged unlawful refusal to file a case despite orders from the Department of Justice.

    In a 16-page decision issued last November 29, the anti-graft court pronounced Bustonera innocent of the charge of violating Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code penalizing dereliction of duty by a government prosecutor.

    The case stemmed from a complaint filed by parents of two motorcycle riders who were involved in a collision with another motorcycle on January 1, 2012.

    Bike driver Jeriel Banquiles sustained serious injuries while his companion and back-rider, Sherwin Rivera, died.

    The victims’ parents filed a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, serious physical injuries, and damage to property against Jovencio Trinidad who was driving the other motorcycle.

    In a resolution dated May 3, 2012, the investigating prosecutor found probable cause and recommended the filing of criminal charges with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court.

    However, Bustonera disapproved the recommendation for indictment and instead recommended that Banquiles be charged, citing a certification from the attending physician that the injured motorcycle driver was under the influence of alcohol and had no driver’s license at the time of the accident.

    Complainants challenged Bustonera’s findings before the Department of Justice-Regional Office 4 in San Pablo, Laguna which ruled in their favor and ordered Bustonera to withdraw the case against Banquiles and charge Trinidad instead.

    Complainants said Bustonera never implemented the directive of the DOJ Region 4 until he retired on June 25, 2013.

    The accused said he never received the resolution, a claim that was corroborated by his own assistant who said the prosecutor was not in his office when an office aide left the copy of the resolution on his desk.