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QC judge refuses to inhibit from Venson Evangelista slay case

The Quezon City judge handling the Venson Evangelista murder case has junked a motion asking her to inhibit from the case due to her alleged bias against the accused. In a two-page order, QC Regional Trial Court Branch 215 Presiding Judge Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla said the “court is not inclined to grant the motion" filed by Alfred Mendiola, one of the accused, through his legal counsel Willie Rivera. In denying Mendiola’s motion, Padilla cited a Supreme Court ruling stating that “the mere imputation of bias or partiality is not enough ground for inhibition, especially when the charge is without basis." The judge also said acts clearly indicative of arbitrariness or prejudice must be shown and extrinsic evidence must further be presented to establish bias. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has accepted Mendiola as a qualified state witness after he said in an affidavit that Raymond and Roger Dominguez, alleged leaders of a carjacking group, masterminded the killing of Evangelista, a used-car dealer whose badly burnt body was found in Nueva Ecija last January. . With the DOJ's admittance of Mendiola as state witness, his counsel, Rivera, filed a motion to discharge his client with Padilla’s sala asking the court to exclude Mendiola’s name in the information as one of the accused. But Rivera said that on April 11, instead of ruling on his motion to discharge Mendiola, Padilla insisted on the arraignment of his client and ordered the entry of a not guilty plea to despite his vehement objection. Mendiola's legal counsel also averred that the presiding judge “has already prejudged the guilt of the accused Mendiola and insisted in applying Rule 119, Section 17, when it is clear that said rule is not a-applicable to the case at bar." — KBK, GMA News