Palparan prosecutors stumped by judge’s exit
Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera on Thursday said his team was relying on solid evidence to pursue the case against former Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and three other military officers in connection with the 2006 disappearance of two University of the Philippines students.
But Navera said the trial would likely suffer delays as he cited the inhibition of Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales in the abduction case of human rights activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.
Navera, the head of the prosecution panel, said the prosecution team had not lost faith in the fairness of the magistrate, even while she had decided to recuse herself four years since first handling the high-profile case.
“We believe in Judge Gonzales’s fairness, impartiality and probity. But more importantly, we believe in the strength of our evidence whoever the judge that will hear the case,” Navera said.
He said the panel did not consider the sala transfer a setback, but conceded that there might be delays in the proceedings.
Gonzales inhibited herself from the case through an order on July 13, accepting the call of Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, among Palparan’s coaccused in the case. The case was reraffled to the sala of Bulacan RTC Branch 15 Judge Alexander Tamayo.
Osorio, through lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan, said the judge should inhibit for a perceived partiality toward the prosecution, claiming she “has lost the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.”
Even Palparan’s camp fought the petition, saying the inhibition plea came at a time when the retired general’s bail hearings were to be concluded.
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