Another Muntinlupa City RTC judge inhibits from De Lima’s final drug case
MANILA, Philippines — The second judge in former senator Leila de Lima’s final drug suit has voluntarily inhibited himself from presiding over the case.
In an order issued Thursday, Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 Presiding Judge Abraham Joseph Alcantara concurred with the motion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of prosecutors that sought his “voluntary inhibition.”
Alcantara said he decided “to put to rest any questions against his credibility.”
“With the foregoing, the undersigned Presiding Judge will exercise prudent discretion and voluntarily desist from hearing the case not because the prosecution’s assertion is true but to put to rest any questions against his credibility, integrity, and fairness,” his order reads.
Earlier, the DOJ panel of prosecutors filed the motion, pointing out that Alcantara is the same judge who handed down an acquittal verdict in a “near-identical case” against de Lima on May 14.
The prosecutors stressed that voluntary inhibition is imperative “to erase any doubt” about the judge’s impartiality.
Alcantara is the second judge to inhibit from de Lima’s final drug case, the first one being Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 256 Presiding Judge Romeo Buenaventura.
De Lima has been in detention at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 24, 2017 – months after launching a Senate inquiry into President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. She was arrested over charges that she was involved in the illegal drug trade, which she repeatedly denied.
De Lima has to date won two of the three drug cases lodged against her.