JUDGE Alfredo Ampuan of the Manila City Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, has recused himself from handling the criminal case against members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity implicated in the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
In a seven page resolution, Ampuan stressed that while imputation of bias or partiality “is not enough ground for inhibition,” he will grant the motion to inhibit to remove any doubts on the minds of all the accused and their relatives.
“Mere imputations or bias 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,” Ampuan said.
In a related development:
• The parents of the 10 fraternity members charged over the death of Castillo III have asked the National Bureau of Investigation not to transfer their children to the Manila Police District.
In a letter addressed to NBI director Dante Gierran, the parents of the accused said their children would “not be safe” in the custody of the MPD, one of the complainants in the criminal case against them.
“The MPD is one of the complainants in the above-entitled case and thus, the MPD is not and can not be an objective and independent custodian of our children, thereby posing imminent danger to the lives of our children,” the letter said.
The communication also claimed MPD operatives “forcibly entered” the house of fraternity member Ralph Trangia in Meycauayan City, Bulacan, last Thursday night to arrest him.
Ampuan was acting on the motion for inhibition filed by accused John Robin Ramos and Juan Miguel Salamat who claimed the judge was the brother-in-law of Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
“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 at the back of their minds the thought that the Presiding Judge of this Court has now tilted the scales of justice against them,” Ampuan’s resolution stated.
With his inhibition, the case against the 10 Aegis Juris officers and members for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law will be re-raffled to another branch.
All the accused are detained at the National Bureau of Investigation. The return of the warrant will have to wait until the case is assigned to another judge.