Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla said she deems it proper to inhibit herself considering that there are concerns raised in relation to the court’s bias towards the accused.
By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
The Palayan City judge who ordered the arrest of former Makabayan bloc representatives Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, Teddy Casiño and Liza Maza inhibited herself from the case.
In an order dated Aug. 1, Palayan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 40 Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla said she deems it proper to inhibit herself considering that there are concerns raised in relation to the court’s bias towards the accused.
Turla issued arrest orders against the four activist leaders last July 11 stemming from a 2006 double murder charge against them. The judge, who told the public prosecutor in July 2008 that the case did not meet her standards, reversed herself and said in an order that she now finds probable cause to proceed with the trial against the four accused.
Nueva Ecija public prosecutors, meanwhile, refused to comment on a motion for reconsideration filed by lawyers of the four activist leaders at a hearing in Palayan City Friday morning, August 3.
Public Interest Law Center (PILC) managing counsel Rachel Pastores told reporters, “When the public prosecutors were asked to comment on the motion for reconsideration, they simply submitted it to the judge’s discretion.”
In their motion, the lawyers of the accused call on the court to quash the warrants and dismiss the case. Pastores said they are hoping that the court would decide on their motion within 10 days as the arrest order is “unjust and without legal basis.”
The case was raffled off to Judge Trece Wenceslao.
The double murder charge stemmed from a complaint by a Cleotilde Peralta and an Isabelita Bayudang who alleged that the four activist leaders met in 1998 to plan the assassination of former Bayan Muna (BM) members who have left the party.
Peralta said her husband was ran over and killed in 2001 while Bayudang said her husband was shot to death in 2004 upon orders of the four accused and others.
In 2016, Peralta and Bayudang were found liable for damages in a civil suit and were ordered to pay P325,000 (US$6,000) to Ocampo by Quezon City RTC Branch 95.
The QC RTC said Peralta and Bayudang lied when they alleged BM already existed in 1998 when it was in fact created only in 2000.