THE 5th division of the Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the dismissal of the complaint against several individuals in connection with the alleged proliferation of a registered energy drink products in 2009.
In a 15-page decision penned by Associate Justice Myra Garcia-Fernandez and concurred in by Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Mario Lopez dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Energy Food and Drinks, Inc. (EFDI) that sought to annul and set aside the resolution of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
On November 23, 2009, the EFDI sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to stop the proliferation of Supreme Red Bull Energy Drink products bearing product labels registered by EFDI with the Bureau of Food and Drugs (now Food and Drugs Administration). The labels were were allegedly tampered by Maryland Distributors, Inc. (MDI).
On July 26, 2010, the Assistant City Prosecutor (ACP) issued a resolution dismissing the complaint, on the ground that the controversy is civil in nature because it is a contest over a product distributorship.
Its motion for reconsideration was also denied, prompting EFDI to file a petition for review with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Undersecretary of Justice Jose Vicente Salazar granted the petition on June 21, 2012 and directed the filing of information for violation of Section 168 in relation to Section 170 of Republic Act (RA) No. 8293 as well as Sections 11(g) and 15 (a) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3720 against respondents Gino Baltao, Gina Escobar, Pavana Langthara, Suthirat Yoovidhya, Supreeya Yoovidhya, Nucharee Yoovidhya, and Visuit Chiemkitchavarote.
Several motions were filed and during the pendency of said motions, EFDI engaged the services of Bohol, Bohol II, Jimenez Law Offices as collaborating counsel and moved for the inhibition of Secretary De Lima on the ground that her former husband, Plaridel Bohol, Jr., is the managing partner of said law firm.
However, De Lima granted the motions filed by MDI and ordered the prosecutor the withdrawal of the informations filed with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Legaspi City, prompting EFDI to seek redress with the appeals court.
In its May 20, 2015 decision but was released to the media only recently, the appellate tribunal held that EFDI’s petition is devoid of merit.
“While it is true that courts have jurisdiction over the case once [it has]been filed, this does not mean that the Secretary of Justice is stripped off of her power of control or to review the resolutions issued by her subordinates,” the CA said.
“This court finds that public respondent (De Lima) did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in entertaining the motions for reconsideration even though information for both cases have already been filed.”
“This court shall refrain from ruling on the third issue raised by petitioner concerning the presence or absence of probable cause considering that the trial courts below already issued their respective rulings on said issue. The matter should be addressed in an action that should be filed directly for that purpose where all indispensable parties should be impleaded and given the opportunity to be heard,” the CA stressed.