Judge suspends criminal proceedings, holds arrest warrant vs. Ricardo Yanson Jr.

A Bacolod Regional Trial Court judge has suspended the criminal proceedings against businessman Ricardo V. Yanson Jr. and held in abeyance a warrant of arrest issued against him, his lawyer Carlo Joaquin Narvasa said Saturday, March 27.

Bacolod RTC Branch 45 Judge Phoebe Gargantiel Balbin in an order dated March 1 granted the petition for certiorari filed by Yanson against Abraham Bayona in his capacity as presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities – Bacolod Branch 7.

The assailed orders issued by Bayona dated July 23 and August 5, 6, 17 and 27, 2020 are annulled and set aside for having been issued with “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,” Balbin ruled.

The proceedings in Criminal Case No. 20-07-34724 entitled People of the Philippines vs. Ricardo V. Yanson Jr. for grave coercion is held in abeyance pending resolution of the prejudicial question before the commercial court, the judge added.

The criminal case filed against Yanson stated that Yanson, president of Dynamic Builders and Construction Co., prevented the release of 55 buses parked inside the premises of the Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI) compound in Bacolod City on August 8 and 9, 2019.

Ricardo Jr. and his siblings Roy, Emily and Celina, also known as the Y4, are embroiled in an ongoing intra-corporate dispute with their mother, Olivia, and siblings Leo Rey and Ginnette over the management of the family-owned VTI.

Ricardo in his Petition for Certiorari assailed the orders of Bayona finding probable cause and issuing an arrest warrant against him.

He claimed that the MTCC completely disregarded the fact that a prejudicial question exists on who the rightful majority shareholders and managers of VTI are, Narvasa said in a press statement.

In granting the Petition for Certiorari, Branch 45 of the Bacolod RTC in its March 1 order confirmed that a prejudicial question indeed exists as there is pending issue in a prior case before Branch 53 which must first be resolved before the criminal case against him may proceed, he added.

The resolution of that issue would be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case, Narvasa said.

The existence of a prejudicial question necessitates the suspension of the criminal proceedings, and any issuance of warrants of arrest would be premature, hence, void. The reason for the rule, the Court clarified, is to avoid conflicting decisions between two courts, he added.

It ruled that RTC Branch 53, which has jurisdiction over the intra-corporate case involving the control of VTI, must first resolve the validity of the ouster of Leo Rey Yanson before any criminal case can proceed against Ricardo Jr., Narvasa explained.

“Then, too, the propriety of the authority of the party who caused the filing of the criminal case against Ricardo Jr. is linked to the resolution of the intra-corporate case. If Branch 53 finds the Y4’s action in removing Leo Rey Yanson justified, then the criminal suits filed against them by persons who took the authority to do so from Leo Rey will also be void,” Narvasa said.*

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