MANILA –The Bulacan trial court judge hearing the criminal charges against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, has inhibited herself from the case, following allegations of “partiality” by a lawyer of the accused.
In a decision dated July 13, Judge Teodora Gon-zales of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14, said she is voluntarily inhibiting herself from the case to “preserve and promote public confidence in the integrity and respect for the judiciary.” She, however, dismissed the accusations against her as “baseless.”
On June 22, one of Palparan’s lawyers, Bonifa-cio Alentajan, filed a motion for Gonzales’s inhibition, claiming the judge “repeatedly made comments demonstrating partiality towards the prosecution” during the presentation of prosecution witness Adoracion Paulino.
During the March 11 hearing, Alentajan, who entered his appearance for Palparan’s co-accused Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio only this year, had a heated argument with Judge Gonzales as he frequently raised objections while the judge herself was asking questions to witness Paulino, mother-in-law of Sherlyn Cadapan, one of the disappeared students.
Alentajan verbally manifested that Judge Gonzales should inhibit from the case.
Alentajan alleged that the judge “has lost the neutral impartiality of the ‘cold neutral’ of an impartial judge.” He said his client Osorio is convinced that he will not achieve justice under Judge Gonzales.
Judge Gonzales said in her decision that, “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 NUPL said they have yet to receive a copy of the order asking them to comment on Gonzales’ inhibition.
For almost four years, Gonzales, 59, had been hearing the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case against Palparan, the notorious retired military officer called “The Butcher” by human rights groups. In December 2011, Gonzales issued the arrest warrant against Palparan, who had gone into hiding. In 2014, after Palparan’s capture, Gon-zales ordered his detention at the Bulacan provincial jail denying his motion to stay at the NBI or Camp Crame in Manila. She later consented to his motion for transfer to the Army custodial center in Taguig City.
The victims, UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and peasant Manuel Merino were disappeared by suspected soldiers on Palparan’s orders in 2006, and remain missing to date. (bulatlat.com)