Contempt conviction of Abalos lawyer reversed
The Court of Appeals has thrown out the guilty verdict meted out by Pasay City Judge Jesus Mupas on the lawyer of former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos for direct contempt for claiming the judge had tried to extort P100 million from Abalos.
In a 21-page ruling, the appellate court said the statement of lawyer Brigido Dulay about Mupas’ emissaries allegedly demanding the huge sum from Abalos in exchange for approving his petition for bail in connection with the electoral sabotage case filed against him, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several others was not malicious.
Abalos, Arroyo, former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former election supervisor Lintang Bedol are charged with committing irregularities during the 2007 midterm election in parts of Mindanao.
“Simply, (Dulay), as counsel for Abalos, merely relayed to the court a quo specific event which ultimately led (Abalos) to doubt the court’s impartiality,” said the March 22 ruling.
“In all, we find that (Dulay’s) actuations were neither malicious, offensive or derogatory to the administration of justice as to hold him liable for direct contempt of court,” it said.
The resolution was authored by Associate Justice Francisco Acosta and concurred in by Associate Justices Magdangal de Leon and Angelita Gacutan.
The appellate court said a review of the contents of the motion for inhibition that Abalos filed against Mupas “leads us to believe that no malicious, derogatory or offensive allegations were made by” Dulay.
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