Judge in Calbayog mayor murder case inhibits after allowing suspects to post bail

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — The judge in the murder case of Calbayog Mayor Ronaldo Aquino has inhibited herself after granting bail to the nine policemen tagged in the killing.

The slain mayor's camp had filed a motion calling for Judge Maricar Lucero to step aside, saying her move to allow the suspects to post a ₱120,000 bail each "made the families of the victims lose faith in the capacity of the judge to dispense justice."

Alma Uy, the Aquino family's lawyer, also appealed the judge's decision.

Lucero is the third judge to handle the case since it was filed in court in January last year. Previous Judge Reynaldo Clemens also inhibited himself in November.

Lucero's inhibition means a different judge will now rule on the Aquino camp's motion for consideration.

Aquino, his driver, and his close-in security died in what police described as a shootout in 2021.

Lucero defended the resolution allowing the nine suspects to post bail, saying "the elements of murder were not presented with evident proof."

The judge also addressed allegations of bias after Uy pointed out that Lucero's husband was appointed as department head at the Calbayog City Hall, and allegedly has links to the brains behind the killing.

"Why raise this issue only now? Clearly, this is just an afterthought to impute malice to the ruling of this presiding judge," Lucero said.

She explained that her husband was appointed in July 2022, while she handled the case only in November that same year.

CNN Philippines Wil Mark Amazona contributed to this report.