DOJ insists on inhibition of judge handling slay case of Korean

Published August 14, 2019, 8:57 AM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) insists that an Angeles City judge should inhibit herself from handling the slay case of Korean Jee Ick Joo.

Department of Justice (MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Justice (MANILA BULLETIN)

After their motion to inhibit filed back in May was denied, government prosecutors filed this month another motion asking the inhibition of Presiding Judge Irin Zenaida Buan of Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 56.

“This motion is being filed upon the orders of the Prosecutor General and the Secretary of Justice,” read the latest motion to inhibit dated August 6 that was signed by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Juan Pedro Navera and Olivia Laroza-Torrevillas, and Assistant State Prosecutor Ethel Rea Suril.

Citing pronouncements made by the Supreme Court (SC), state prosecutors reminded Buan that: “At the very sign of lack of faith and trust to his actions, whether well-grounded or not, the Judge has no other alternative but to inhibit himself from the case.”

The first motion was filed back in May after Buan granted bail to the alleged mastermind, Police Lt. Col. Rafael Dumlao, and, according to state prosecutors, “without considering all the facts laid down by the people’s witnesses.”

“However, instead of resolving the motion for inhibition with dispatch, the Presiding Judge later issued an Order tentatively scheduling the initial trial of the cases to July 31, 2019,” read the August 6 motion.

“Interestingly, during the hearing on July 31, 2019, the Presiding Judge informed the parties that she has resolved to deny the motion for inhibition filed by the police and the PAO (Public Attorney’s Office), a good two months from the time it was filed,” prosecutors recounted.

After the judge denied the May motion, the prosecutors said they and the wife of Jee, Kyung Jin Choi, “cannot fathom and are profoundly disturbed with the way the Presiding Judge cavalierly resolved the pending incidents in these cases and by her obvious obstinacy to cling to the instant cases instead of inhibiting from them for unknown reasons.”

Dumlao is facing before the Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) charges of kidnapping for ransom with homicide, kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and carnapping.

He is charged along with his co-accused Police Technical Sergeant Ricky Sta. Isabel, retired policeman Gerardo “Ding” Santiago, and Jerry Omlang.

The case stemmed from the kidnapping of Jee who was taken along with his maid Marisa Morquicho on October 18, 2016 from his home in Friendship Plaza Subdivision, Angeles City under the pretext that the police were conducting anti-illegal drugs operations under “Oplan Tokhang.”

The Korean was brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City where he was killed the same day. Morquicho was eventually released.