Criminal case vs bus empire heir suspended

Gilbert Bayoran (The Philippine Star) - April 13, 2021 - 12:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines  —  Avvv regional trial court (RTC) in Bacolod City has suspended the criminal proceedings as well as the enforcement of an arrest warrant against Ricardo Yanson Jr., son and namesake of the late founder of the country’s largest bus company.

In an order issued on March 1, Judge Phoebe Gargantiel-Balbin of the Bacolod RTC Branch 45 said a prejudicial question exists due to a pending case filed before the RTC Branch 53, also located in Bacolod.

Balbin said the issue must be resolved first before the case filed against Ricardo could proceed.

Journalists obtained copies of the order over the weekend.

“The resolution of that issue will determine the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case,” Balbin said.

Ricardo and his siblings ­– Roy, Emily and Celina ­­– earlier filed a petition for certiorari, assailing an order of the Bacolod Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) Branch 7, which found probable cause and issued an arrest warrant against him.

Ricardo said the MTC disregarded the prejudicial question on who are the rightful majority shareholders and managers of the  family-owned Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI).

The company operates a large fleet of public buses in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The family is divided over the control of company.

Ricardo, Roy, Emily and Celina - known as the Y4 faction - are locked in a legal dispute with their mother Olivia, who is allied with their siblings Leo Rey and Ginette.

Balbin said the existence of the prejudicial question requires the suspension of the criminal proceedings and any issuance of arrest warrants would be premature.

The reason for the rule, the court said, is to avoid conflicting decisions from the two courts.

In granting Ricardo’s petition, Balbin ruled that the RTC Branch 53 – which has jurisdiction over the intra-corporate case involving the VTI – must first resolve the validity of the ouster of Leo Rey before any criminal case against Ricardo could proceed.

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