OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – A motion to inhibit Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde from hearing the case against US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton has been filed by the public prosecution panel.
The motion was filed as the panel called into question the judge’s transparency and neutrality in hearing the case involving the brutal murder of transgender Jennifer Laude, allegedly by Pemberton, on October 11, 2014 in a hotel room in Pampanga City.
Olongapo City Chief Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos, head of the prosecution panel, filed the motion on Monday. The panel pointed to Jabalde’s association with Pemberton’s legal counsel, Atty. Rowena Garcia-Flores, citing that the two women were classmates in law school.
“It became clear to the prosecution that the relationship between [Jabalde] and [Flores] — that of being classmates in law school — has tainted the Honorable Presiding Judge’s transparency and neutrality in the conduct of the proceedings,” the motion stated.
The prosecutors alleged that from the time the case was filed in court on December 15, Jabalde had put them on a “wait and see” status. They also claimed that the judge had been involved in a discussion with Pemebrton, in their absence, when the suspect appeared before the court on December 19.
They detailed that on that date, they found Jabalde talking with Pemberton and Flores inside the courtroom, without the prosecutors’ presence at the proceeding.
“This scene immediately alarmed the prosecution giving it as it does an impression that a proceeding with respect to the case was already being conducted without the presence of any public prosecutor,” they said in their 12-page motion.
The motion for inhibition likewise detailed that Jabalde’s failure to arraign Pemberton gave room for his counsel to file for a petition for review before the Department of Justice.
Additionally, the prosecutors said that they were not advised that the Jabalde would not be arraigning the American serviceman when he appeared before the court on December 19.
“The prosecution was immediately placed on a wait and see stance — a situation which could have been easily avoided by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reply — and doubt has dawned upon the transparency with which the proceedings will be conducted by the Honorable Presiding Judge,” they motion indicated.
Jabalde refuse to comment on the motion.