The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared the name of retired Department of Justice (DOJ) Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño in the “Alabang Boys” controversy created by detained Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino who himself is now accused of dealing in illegal drugs.
A 16-page decision of the CA’s 11th Division, dated January 20, 2016, granted a petition filed by Zuño after his name was dragged into the “Alabang Boys” issue when he approved findings that there was no probable cause against the accused.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Sesinando Villon, chairman of the division, and was concurred in by Justices Rodil Zalameda, senior member and Pedro Corales, junior member.
The appellate court decision found that the then-Presidential Anti-Graft Commission committed grave abuse of discretion when it ordered the preventive suspension of Zuño on May 29, 2009, pending PAGC’s investigation of the administrative charges against him.
“Wherefore, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is granted. The assailed formal charge filed by the Complaints and Investigation Unit (CIU) of respondent Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) in PAGC-09-0840-A is hereby dismissed,” the decision read.
PAGC had charged Zuño with gave misconduct and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of service only on the basis of his ruling in junking the criminal raps against the “Alabang Boys.”
The CA opined that the former prosecutor cannot be held liable when the DOJ dismissed the illegal drug charges against “Alabang Boys” Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph and Joseph Tecson for lack of probable cause.
The “Alabang Boys” were arrested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) during an operation led by Marcelino.
They were all acquitted by regular courts.
The appellate court said Zuño cannot be faulted for the findings that there was no probable cause since they were the findings of State Prosecutor John Resado and were approved by Senior State Prosecutor Philip Kimpo.
The findings were affirmed by the Justice secretary by way of automatic review on February 20, 2009 but they were reversed when they reached the Office of the President.