Muntinlupa RTC judge inhibits from De Lima drug case
Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 54 Judge Juanita Guerrero has inhibited herself from handling the illegal drugs case against Senator Leila De Lima.
The senator last year sought the inhibition of Guerrero citing obvious partiality and questionable independence.
In her motion, De Lima’s camp said Guerrero has “displayed an unseemly and undue haste” in ensuring her detention and depriving her of liberty despite pending petition filed before the Supreme Court.
De Lima cited the judge’s inaction on her pending Motion to Quash (MTQ), and the scheduling of the senator’s arraignment prior to deciding on the pending MTQ and petition filed before the SC.
“The glaringly clear, single-minded over-eagerness to detain accused De Lima based on an invalid information that is irredeemably and irreparably tainted and made defective by, among others, the rampant and blatant violation of accused De Lima’s rights, is quite evident,” De Lima’s camp stated.
De Lima’s camp maintains an impartial judge should have acted on the red flags “indicating serious infirmities and irregularities that attended the preliminary investigation of the case” and, as a consequence, give greater respect and protection to the accused’s constitutional rights.
In her recent order, Guerrero said “the court is fully aware that a mere imputation of bias or partiality without any proof or evidence is not a ground for a judge to inhibit in further proceeding with a case.”
However, she said “in order not to cast doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the Presiding Judge and to disabuse the mind of the accused and her counsel who have expressed serious doubts on her objectivity in resolving this case due to the adverse orders issued against her, the court, acting on its sound discretion, voluntarily inhibits herself from further hearing the case.”
Guerrero said records of the case will be forwarded to the Clerk of Court for re-raffle to other branches of the Muntinlupa RTC. /je
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