MALOLOS CITY: A regional trial court (RTC) judge has inhibited herself from the case of retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. and two other soldiers over kidnapping and illegal detention charges.
Judge Teodora Gonzales of RTC Branch 14 granted the motion for inhibition filed by lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan, legal counsel of Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio who is among the accused in the disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan. The court earlier dismissed the application for bail of Osorio and another accused Army Col. Felipe Anotado.
The case, which was handled by Gonzales since 2011, was re-raffled on Monday to RTC Branch 15 under the sala of Judge Alexander Tamayo.
Gonzales, while dismissing Alentajan’s allegations of partiality as baseless, inhibited herself from the case “to preserve and promote public confidence in the integrity and respect for the judiciary,” she said in her order dated July 13.
“The court vehemently denies such perceived bias, partiality, bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence since her action is within the ambit of the law,” the judge added.
Alentajan, in his motion filed on June 10, said he was prompted to submit his motion following the presentation of witness Adoracion Paulino, Cadapan’s mother-in-law, on June 1, 2015. During the presentation, he claimed that Judge Gonzales “repeatedly made comments demonstrating partiality towards the prosecution.”
He said his client, Osorio, “is convinced that he will not achieve justice from this Honorable Court, presided by Honorable Judge.”
In a statement, the private lawyers from National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers criticized Alentajan for asking inhibition while his client has already finished presenting his defense evidence “long before he came in.”
Human rights-group Karapatan also deplored the Alentajan’s request for inhibition. Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, said the move aimed to “further delay court proceedings, and thus delay justice.”
The prosecution is set to present its last witness in Palparan’s bail hearing this month.