Manila judge inhibits from Atio Castillo hazing case
MANILA, Philippines – Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 40 Judge Alfredo Ampuan has inhibited from the hazing case of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the motion for inhibition is granted. Accordingly, let the entire records of this case be forwarded to the Office of the Clerk of Court for re-raffle,” said Ampuan in a resolution dated March 23.
In a 7-page resolution, Ampuan disagreed with the grounds cited by the lawyers of the Aegis Juris fraternity members.
The lawyers noted alleged irregularities in the procedures, such as Ampuan letting hearings push through despite the absence of the public prosecutor.
“It must be noted that mere imputations of bias or partiality is not enough ground for inhibition. Extrinsic evidence must be presented to establish bias, bad faith, malice or corrupt purpose, in addition to palpable error which may be inferred from the decision or order. The Presiding Judge indeed sees no reason for him to inhibit from the case,” Ampuan said.
“However, notwithstanding the foregoing, this Court finds it appropriate to grant the motion for inhibition considering that all the above-mentioned accused and/or their respective counsel already nurtured any the back of their minds the thought that the Presiding Judge of this Court has now tilted the scales of justice against them,” Ampuan said. (READ: Brotherhood up to the end: Aegis Juris fratmen surrender together)
The lawyers of Jose Miguel Salamat and Robin Ramos also said that Ampuan cannot be impartial because he is the brother-in-law of Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), who visibly assisted the Castillos during the preliminary investigation.
To that, Ampuan said: “More often than not, Judges have no more time with the immediate members of their respective families, how much more for the advocacy of other people like the brother-in-law of the Presiding Judge.”
Ampuan added: “It bears stressing that the Presiding Judge cannot be influenced by anybody in rendering fair and impartial judgment without fear or favor not even by his brother-in-law, relatives, friends and associates.”
The fraternity members are also requesting the court to be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), saying the Manila Police District (MPD) cannot be an “objective and independent custodians.” – Rappler.com