CHIEF State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno on Monday retired after reaching a mandatory age of retirement of 65. He was in government service for 35 years.

Zuno said the first order of the day for him would be to take a vacation with his family in Batangas.

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“Generally, I am satisfied with my work in the government. I’ve been in public service for 35 years, which is more than what I’ve spent for my family. In fact, one-half of my life is with the public service,” Zuno said.

“My family told me `welcome back to the family.’ I can now spend quality time with my family. Alagaan ko muna mga apo ko,” he added.

The position of chief state prosecutor has administrative supervision over around 1,750 prosecutors of the National Prosecution Service.

Prosecutors determine whether there is probable cause to file a case before the proper court.

With his retirement, Zuno said he did not make any recommendations to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on who should be his successor.

Among those reportedly eyeing Zuno’s post are Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor; Senior Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Severino Gana; and, Quezon City Chief Prosecutor Claro Arellano.

“I did not recommend to the President. This position is very sensitive that it should be left to the sound discretion of the President. Besides, all the aspirants are close to me. They all come from the Department of Justice,” Zuno said in an interview.

Zuno earned his Bachelor of Laws from the Lipa City Colleges in 1963. From 1975 to 1980, he served as a Special Counsel to the Office of the Prosecutor in Batangas City.

From 1980 to 1983, he was a First Assistant City Fiscal at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Lipa City and eventually became the acting City Fiscal in 1983.

In 1985, he started his career with the DOJ serving as State Prosecutor I. In 1997, President Fidel Ramos appointed Zuno as Chief State Prosecutor, the post he held for 13 years, outlasting two presidents and nine justice secretaries.

During his career with the DOJ, he was recognized as an Outstanding Prosecutor by the Consumers Union of the Philippines in 1994.

Zuno also participated in the successful prosecution of former President Estrada for plunder in connection with insider trading in the Belle Corp. stocks; the convictions of former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez for rape-slay; Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos for rape of a minor; and, Hubert Webb and others for the Vizconde massacre.

He however was dragged into the Alabang Boys controversy that resulted to his suspension while the case was being investigated by Malacanang.

The Presidential Anti-Graft Commission meted Zuno with a 90-day suspension over the drug case involving three high-profile suspects – Jorge Joseph, Joseph Tecson, and Richard Brodette.

Zuno admitted that the Alabang Boys controversy was a black mark in his career in public service.

Although Malacanang lifted his suspension, Zuno still wants the Court of Appeals, where the PAGC case is still pending, to rule on his suspension to prove his innocence. (JCV/Sunnex)