No Probable Cause against former Vice Governor Recto in connection with the Bombing Incident at Batangas City

07 January 2014

In a Resolution dated 26 December 2013, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor (SDSP) Theodore M. Villanueva, upon the authority given by the  Prosecutor General,  resolved the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Respondent Richard "Ricky" Recto (RECTO), former Vice Governor of Batangas, assailing the resolution of Cagayan City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag (MACAUYAG) finding probable cause against him, co-respondents Atty. Christopher Belmonte, Christina Antonio, Betina Balderama, Lt. Angelbert Gay, 2Lt. Aldrin Baldonado, LTJG Kiram Sadava, and several John Does for the crimes of murder, frustrated murder, and damage to  property. Accordingly, City Prosecutor MACAUYAG filed the Informations  in the court of competent jurisdiction.

It may be recalled that on 01 June 2006, a bombing incident transpired at the Provincial Capitol of Batangas City which resulted to the serious physical injuries sustained by then Batangas Governor, and now deceased, Armando C. Sanchez (SANCHEZ), the death of his driver, Luisito Icaro (ICARO), and closed-in-security escort, PO2 Eric Landicho (LANDICHO), and the destruction of the Humvee Jeep of SANCHEZ.

SDSP Villanueva resolved that, after an  assiduous evaluation of the facts of the case and the evidence submitted against Respondent RECTO, he found the "non-existence of probable cause to hold him for trial for the crimes committed”; that a perusal of the statements submitted by the investigating police authorities show that "there was never any meeting of the minds, no concrete agreement or plan was arrived at, no conspiracy was ever established, no definite personalities were identified that would be the subject and as to who would effectuate such plans were   discussed"; that "all statements given by the military officers are based on hearsay evidence as told to them allegedly by their co-respondents"; and that since the  investigating police authorities were not present during the actual planting of the bomb, we cannot properly attribute a crime committed to someone based on their statements alone. The Senior Deputy State Prosecutor then cited the hornbook doctrine of evidence that "a witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge, which means those facts which are derived from his perception".

The Resolution also stated that the "evidence presented shows that no one among the military officers conspired to assassinate then Governor Sanchez. It is either they plan or case the latter but never did they have any concrete conspiracy to effectuate their plan nor performed overt acts to achieve their goal. The evidence on hand points that the bombing could have been perpetrated by any other individual."

Pursuant to said findings, and since the Revised Penal Code does not penalize the  mere act of conspiring to commit a crime, with the exception of Articles 115, 136, and 114, SDSP Villanueva recommended that the case against Respondent RECTO be dismissed for lack of evidence.

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