Bulacan judge inhibits from Palparan trial
CITY OF MALOLOS–A new judge will preside over the kidnapping and serious illegal detention trial of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and two soldiers after the judge handling the case in the last four years inhibited herself from the case.
On Monday, the case administered by Regional Trial Court Judge Teodora Gonzales of Branch 14 was re-raffled to the sala of Judge Alexander Tamayo of RTC Branch 15.
Gonzales issued an order on July 13 granting the motion for inhibition filed on June 22 by lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan, who represents S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, one of those accused of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of two missing University of the Philippines students.
Osorio, Palparan, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario were charged in connection with the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were last seen in Hagonoy, Bulacan, in 2006.
Alentajan’s petition said Gonzales “was no longer qualified to participate in the instant case because she has lost the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.”
“During the presentation of witness Adoracion Paulino [on] June 1, [Gonzales] repeatedly made comments demonstrating partiality towards the prosecution,” Alentajan said.
The incident, he said, prompted him to seek the inhibition of Gonzales.
Palparan, however, was not happy about the changes.
In their comment to Alentajan’s petition, Palparan’s lawyers, Diosab Formilleza and Narzal Mallares, urged Gonzales to continue the trial.
“The proceeding for the [petition for] bail by accused Palparan is about to be concluded [and] all that is needed is for the prosecution to present its last witness,” they said.
“Having conducted the entire proceedings in the bail hearing, [and having] observed [the] demeanor of witnesses on the witness stand, no other court would be in better position to rule on the petition for bail of accused Palparan than this honorable court,” they said.
“For the court to let go of the trial of the instant case would be to surrender its right to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary, that it is along this line that they are interposing their position for the honorable judge to disqualify herself from hearing the instant case.”
Only Osorio, Palparan and Anotado have been standing trial as Hilario has yet to be arrested.
In her order, Gonzales said Alejantan’s fears were baseless.
“The court vehemently denies such perceived bias, partiality, bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence since her action is within the ambit of the law. However… to preserve and promote public confidence in the integrity and respect for the judiciary, the presiding judge is voluntarily inhibiting herself from further taking cognizance of the instant cases,” Gonzales said. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon
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