Judge handling Boniel cases inhibits
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - April 25, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Regional Trial Court Judge Ferdinand Collantes of Branch 54 has voluntarily inhibited from handling the criminal cases filed against former Bohol Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel and his alleged cohorts over the death of Mayor Gisela Boniel.

One of the private prosecutors, lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, said the inhibition of Collantes came after the “urgent motion to inhibit and re-raffle” filed by Niño Rey.

Niño Rey, through his counsels, asked the court for Collantes’ inhibition from the parricide case filed against him and of the murder case filed against Wilfredo Hoylar, Restituto Magoncia, Jr., and at-large Lobo Boniel, and Allan Delos Reyes, Jr., citing biases.

He alleged certain orders issued by the court that were favorable to the prosecution, demonstrates bias toward him.

Ligutan said Collantes denied the request of Niño Rey’s camp to present a video footage taken in a media interview and to confront prosecution witness because the footage needs authentication.

Collantes, however, ruled that his court consistently remained impartial in handling cases.

“At the onset, it should be stressed that this Court has consistently remained impartial in handling these cases. Whatever bias or partiality alleged by movants are more imagined than real,” read the order dated April 22.

“Regrettably, to proceed with hearing these cases under this premise may cast a cloud of doubt with whatever order, resolution or decision this Court may issue throughout the proceedings. Hence, this Court, in its sound discretion and pursuant to the above-quoted rule of the Rules of Court, recuses itself from resolving these cases,” the order further stated.

Rule 137 of the Rules of Court provides that “no judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree, computed according to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written consent of all parties-in-interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.

A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned above.”

Collantes added nothing in the above-mentioned rules qualifies Niño Rey’s claims.

“Citing above rule, clearly there is neither speck of any evidence that would be a ground for inhibition nor indication of a predisposition on the part of the Court in favor of one party or the other. It is settled that mere suspension of partiality is not enough. There should be hard evidence to prove it, as well as a manifest showing of bias and partiality,” the order also stated. The records of the cases will be referred to the executive judge of the RTC, Lapu-lapu City, through the Office of the Clerk of Court for proper disposition of case, said Ligutan.

Ligutan further said he finds the move of the defense in filing a motion for inhibition a delaying tactic. They considered the idea of filing a motion for a marathon hearing, he added.

The prosecution was able to present two out of its 40 witnesses. They are confident of their case.

Niño Rey and others were charged in court for allegedly in conspiracy in the killing of the former’s wife, Gisela, on June 7, 2017.

The body of Gisela, who was shot in the head, was wrapped in a fishnet andthrown into the seawaters between Caubian Island and Olango Island in Lapu-Lapu City.—  MBG (FREEMAN)

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