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SC junks ABS-CBN petition vs DoJ over ‘Wowowee’ stampede

January 30, 2008 12:00am
The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the authority of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to conduct investigation into the alleged links of some executives of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation to the 2006 tragic “Wowowee" stampede at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

In a 22-page decision penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, the high court’s Second Division directed the DoJ and its prosecutors to determine if there was probable cause to charge ABS-CBN executives of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries.

Several ABS-CBN executives were earlier blamed for the stampede during the "Wowowee" show in Pasig, which resulted in the death of 71 people.

ABS-CBN executives have 15 days to ask the court to reconsider its decision, according to Jose Midas Marquez, spokesman of the Supreme Court.

Not a major setback

Maxim Uy, head of the ABS-CBN legal department said the company would file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court within 15 days.

In its Web site, ABS-CBN said that Uy "believes that this is not a major setback because it was the high court itself that said whoever conducted the investigation of the case should not be involved in the preliminary probe nor to make recommendations for the filing of the complaint."

ABS-CBN also said on its Web site that through its 71 Dreams Foundation, the company "continues helping the orphans of the stampede victims despite the decision that could lead to the filing of charges against the company."

"Hindi kundisyon ang pagtulong para hindi sila magsampa ng kaso. Hindi ito suhol na huwag kayo magdemanda. Hustiya 'yun e. Hindi kami magkatunggali dito kundi magkasama, (Assistance to the victims should not be seen as a condition set to that they will not file charges. The assistance being extended is not a form of bribery. That's justice. We're not contenders here but partners), said Fr. Tito Caluag, the foundation's managing director.


Earlier, several ABS-CBN executives filed a petition at the court, questioning the capacity of the DoJ to conduct simultaneous preliminary and criminal investigations into the “Wowowee" case.

ABS-CBN executives also claimed that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez had prejudged the case when the DoJ chief allegedly said that the stampede was caused by ABS-CBN’s neglect in overseeing the event in Pasig.

However, in its decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court debunked the claim of the ABS-CBN executives that there was “indecent haste" in the DoJ proceedings.

"As for petitioners' claim of undue haste indicating bias, proof thereof is wanting. The pace of the proceedings is anything but a matter of acceleration. Neither is there proof showing that Gonzalez exerted undue pressure on his subordinates to tailor their decision with his public declarations and adhere to a pre-determined result," the Supreme Court said.

The DOJ investigating panel had already issued a resolution on October 9, 2006 finding probable cause to indict the accused for the crime. But the motion for reconsideration filed by the accused is still pending for resolution before the DoJ.

“Wowowee" host Willie Revillame had been cleared of criminal liabilities in connection with the stampede.

The prosecution panel, however, has yet to come up with a resolution on the alleged criminal liabilities of some Pasig City local officials. - GMANews.TV
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