Imperial vs. Joson
A vehicular accident in Sariaya, Quezon involving an Isuzu ten-wheeler truck driven by petitioner Santos Francisco and Fuso six-wheeler truck was driven by respondent Santiago Giganto, Jr. gave rise to a criminal complaint for Reckless Imprudence in Saraiaya MTC. The case proceeded to mandatory pre-trial conference. Assistant Public Prosecutor Zabello had interviewed one of the witnesses, however, did not believe the version of the events and refused to stipulate the matters. In view of Prosecutor Zabella’s refusal, the Sariaya MTC went on to issue a pre-trial order dated 14 August 2001. As a consequence, petitioner filed on 30 August 2001 a motion "to compel and disqualify Prosecutor Zabella and to correct the pre-trial order”, which the MTC denied. Petitioner Francisco filed a motion for reconsideration and on 9 January 2002, the Sariaya MTC issued an order which directing that the pre-trial conference be set anew in view of the reassignment of the case to Prosecutor Francis Sia and the appearance of a new private prosecutor in the case. Dissatisfied, petitioner Francisco filed on 1 April 2002 the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with Lucena City RTC. Likewise contending that the nine postponements of the pre-trial conference on 10 and 17 October 2001, 7 November 2001, 23 January 2002, 13 March 2002, 4 September 2002, 6 November 2002, 15 January 2003 and 5 March 2003 were capricious, vexatious and oppressive, petitioner Francisco further moved for the dismissal of the case on 14 March 2004, on the ground that his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.
Whether or not the nine postponements of the pre-trial conference in the case attributable to the prosecution amounted to a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial.
No. Far from being vexatious, capricious and oppressive, however, the delays entailed by the postponements of the aforesaid hearings were, to a great extent, attributable to petitioner Francisco’s own pursuit of extraordinary remedies against the interlocutory orders issued by the Sariaya MTC and the assignment of at least three public prosecutors to the case. Petitioner Francisco’s harping on his right to a speedy trial before the Sariaya MTC is materially attenuated by his motion for the disqualification of Prosecutor Zabella from the case and, later, his repeated prayer for the stoppage of the proceedings a quo in his petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Lucena RTC. Although the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure mandates commencement of the trial within 30 days from receipt of the pre-trial order and the continuous conduct thereof for a period not exceeding 180 days, Section 3 a (1), Rule 119 provides that delays resulting from extraordinary remedies against interlocutory orders shall be excluded in computing the time within which trial must commence.