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By: Jim Lloyd Dongiapon

The Mangacop family’s long quest for justice continues as the arraignment of Dr. Marvin Rey Andrew Pepino, the suspect behind the killing of 19-year-old Grade 9 student Amierkhan Mangacop on July 2, has been postponed once more due to the presiding judge’s inhibition from the case.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) 11 Branch 17 Presiding Judge Marie Estrellita Tolentino, the judge assigned to hear the homicide case filed against Pepino, issued a court order today stating that she has voluntarily inhibited from handling the proceedings.

According to Tolentino, she did so “to avoid any perception of bias and partiality” on her part since the lawyer representing the accused was from a law firm established by her father. 

“A review of the records shows that during the proceedings before the City Prosecution’s Office, (the) accused was represented by Atty. Adam Dandro Jambagan of the Tolentino Law Office, the Law office founded by the undersigned’s father,” the order stated. 

She invoked Section 1, paragraph 2 of Rule 137 of the Rules of Court as the basis of her decision, which says, “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.” 

As a result, the case will now be re-raffled among other branches of the court. 

Atty. Gibb Andrew Cabahug, legal counsel for the Mangacop family, has yet to issue a statement regarding the matter. 

It could be recalled that on July 22, Cabahug revealed that their camp had filed a motion for reconsideration to reverse the downgrading of the charges against Pepino from murder to homicide. 

Four days later, on July 26, RTC XI Branch 17 Acting Presiding Judge Emmanuel C. Carpio issued an order suspending the proceedings of the case for 60 days, pending the resolution of the motion for reconsideration filed by the Private Prosecutor and the opposition filed by the accused’s counsel.

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