Court restores reckless driving case vs actor-A A +A
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
MANILA -- The Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the filing of criminal charges for reckless imprudence against actor Richard Gutierrez in relation to a May 2009 car accident that killed his personal assistant.
The CA's Eleventh Division set aside the March 1, 2010 and May 28, 2010 resolutions issued by the Department of Justice dismissing the charges filed against Gutierrez by Lorayne Pardo, widow of the actor's personal assistant Nomar Pardo.
Instead, the appellate court granted the petition filed by Lorayne seeking the nullification of the said two resolutions issued by then justice secretaries Agnes Devanadera and Alberto Agra, respectively.
The CA decision, penned by Associate Justice Stephen Cruz, reinstated the September 28, 2008 resolution issued by the Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite that recommended the filing before the Municipal Trial Court of Silang, Cavite of a reckless imprudence resulting in homicide charges against Gutierrez.
"Accordingly, the assigned prosecutor on case is directed to refile the information and to proceed with dispatch in the prosecution of private respondent Richard Rama Gutierrez for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide until its final termination," the CA declared.
Lorayne had blamed the actor's utter disregard of traffic rules for the death of her husband.
The CA held that the appeal of Lorayne "is impressed with merit" as it was supported by the traffic accident report issued by Silang Municipal Police Station.
The police report, according to the CA, belied Gutierrez's claim that he was driving prudently when the vehicular accident happened.
Gutierrez attributed the accident to the slippery condition of the road at that time.
"To the mind of this Court, if indeed private respondent was not driving fast, it would have been easy for him to stop his car and thwart any untoward incident," the CA said.
It noted that the car Gutierrez was driving, a Nissan GT-R Sedan with plate number ZTU-775, was found resting in a ravine approximately 35 meters away from an electric post where it first hit into.
The CA also noted that the photographs showing the car in wrecked condition further confirmed that it was running at a very high speed.
However, the CA did not give credence to Lorayne's claim that Gutierrez failed to extend on-the-spot assistance to her husband, noting that the actor was also injured in the accident.
"It is undisputed that private respondent was also injured in this case and was rushed to hospital ng Tagaytay. Consistent with human experience and logic, private respondent was constrained to leave the site of accident, not to deliberately abandon Nomar, but, as circumstances demand, seek help and medical attention," the Court pointed out.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Magdangal de Leon and Myra Garcia-Fernandez.
In a resolution issued last September 28, 2008, Cavite Provincial Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco said it was established that Gutierrez drove his car in excess of the speed limit allowed by law.
Considering that Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road is a national highway, Velasco noted, the maximum speed set by Republic Act 4136 of the Traffic Code of the Philippines is merely 80 kilometers per hour.
However, Velasco said based on the pictures of the wreckage, he "could not help but conclude that the car was driven way above 80 kilometers per hour."
It also noted that Gutierrez's physical condition is suspect considering that he worked for a period of at least seven hours prior to the incident.
The prosecutor also noted that the road where the accident happened is a curve-way, thus, a prudent man would slow down while driving on the said road.
"But in this case, evidence clearly showed that the respondent did not exercise proper prudence and slow down as he approached the curve-way. The distance of the car from the point of impact, the broken trees, and broken Meralco post all point to the fact that the respondent was reckless and negligent while driving that night," Velasco added. (JCV/Sunnex)