Pampanga judge inhibits from Jee Ick-joo cases
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - September 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The judge who approved bail for the alleged mastermind in the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo has inhibited from hearing the cases. 

In a two-page order dated Sept. 2, Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 56 Judge Irin Zenaida Buan said she would not handle the cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Col. Rafael Dumlao and the other police officers, who allegedly conspired to kidnap and kill Jee.   

“The presiding judge of this court... recuses herself from actively trying these cases. Let the entire records of these cases be remanded to the OCC (Office of the Clerk of Court)-RTC Angeles City for re-raffle to another branch of this court,” Buan said.

DOJ prosecutors filed a second motion for inhibition on Aug. 7 upon the orders of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and prosecutor general Benedicto Malcontento.

The counsels of the other accused Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and former National Bureau of Investigation agent Jerry Omlang also asked Buan to inhibit from the cases. 

“To continue trying these cases (despite the previous denial of the first motion for inhibition) will... be counter-productive if not prejudicial to the presiding judge,” Buan said. 

“To insist on trying these cases despite a continuing call for a recusal will conjure an erroneous image of a judge holding on to a case under a continuous cloud of doubt. To the mind of the presiding judge, this is counterproductive because no matter how regular the exercise of judgmental or discretion is done, the same cannot dissuade the movants from their belief that the presiding judge is biased,” she added. 

In a ruling issued on April 24, Buan granted Dumlao’s petition for bail, which was set at P300,000, saying the prosecution failed to prove that the evidence of guilt against him is strong. She denied a similar petition filed by Sta. Isabel and Omlang.

Jee was kidnapped from his residence in Angeles City on Oct. 18, 2016. He was reportedly killed on the same day at Camp Crame. His body was cremated while his ashes were reportedly flushed in the toilet.

The DOJ filed kidnapping with homicide, kidnapping and illegal detention as well as carjacking charges against Dumlao, Sta. Isabel and Omlang.

Gerardo Santiago, the owner of the funeral parlor in Caloocan City where Jee’s body was brought, was charged with kidnapping with homicide.

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