Kin of 2 fatalities in 2008 Parañaque shoot-out asks judge to inhibitBy Jaymee T. Gamil
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The kin of two of the fatalities in the bloody shoot-out between policemen and a group of suspected robbers in Parañaque City has asked the judge in charge of the case to inhibit himself “out of delicadeza.”
Last week, lawyer Jerry Elquiza who is representing Lilian de Vera filed a motion for inhibition against Judge Jaime Guray of the Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 260.
De Vera’s husband, Alfonso, and their 7-year-old daughter, Lia Allana, were among those killed in the crossfire when a shoot-out broke out between members of the Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group (HPG) and Waray-Waray robbery gang in 2008.
Elquiza said that Guray’s objectivity was now under question because in 2010, he dismissed the double-murder charges against the HPG operatives for lack of probable cause.
“He says the Court of Appeals ordered him to hear the case but we don’t even have to talk about legal matters anymore. Out of delicadeza, he should just let it go,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
In June, the appellate court reversed Guray’s ruling and ordered him to continue hearing the charges against the eight HPG operatives—Chief Inspectors Lawrence Cajipe and Joel Mendoza, Inspector Gerardo Balatucan, Police Officers 3 Jolito Mamanao Jr. and Fernando Rey Gapuz, Police Officers 2 Eduardo Blanco and Edwin Santos and Police Officer 1 Josil Rey Lucena.
According to the Court of Appeals, Guray’s decision smacked of “a rush to judgment without deliberate evaluation of the evidence from both sides [as] demanded by a full trial.”
The judge had explained that he dismissed the case because the HPG operatives merely served as a blocking force during the police operation which later on led to a shoot-out.
His explanation, however, did not sit well with the prosecution.
Elquiza further alleged that in previous hearings, Guray had expressed confidence that his decision to junk the case against the HPG would be upheld by the appellate court. The judge had even vowed that he would voluntarily inhibit himself from the case should the appellate court reverse his ruling, he claimed.
Elquiza, meanwhile, said that they have included Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as one of their witnesses. “When she was still the Commission on Human Rights head, she tagged the HPG [operatives as the ones who were assigned near the area] where [Alfonso] de Vera was killed.”
The judge has set the next hearing on Aug. 24 during which he said he would announce his decision on the motion for inhibition.