SC nixes plea to force judge out of Aguinaldo great-grandkids’ estafa case
The Supreme Court (SC) has denied a petition seeking to direct an Occidental Mindoro judge to inhibit from the estafa case against two illegitimate great-grandchildren of President Emilio Aguinaldo.
In a recent 2-page notice of resolution, the SC 2nd Division affirmed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) October 22, 2018 decision to deny the petition filed by Isabel Cojuangco Suntay, a legitimate great-grandchild.
Isabel had been warring with Emilio A.M. Suntay III and Nenita Suntay Tañedo, the illegitimate children of her father Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay I.
She accused Mamburao Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 44 Judge Jose Jacinto, Jr., of being related by affinity to Nenita. She also alleged that the judge exhibited bias in favor of her half-siblings and that he already prejudged their guilt or innocence.
But, the SC agreed with the CA that Isabel failed to clearly show the acts indicative of arbitrariness on Jacinto’s part.
“It is settled that the mere imputation of bias and partiality is not enough for a judge to inhibit himself. There must be a clear showing of acts indicative of arbitrariness,” read the notice signed by Deputy Division Clerk of Court Teresita Aquino Tuazon.
The estafa case arose from a dispute over two parcels of land in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, which was owned by their grandmother and President Aguinaldo’s daughter Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay, who died in 1990 without a will.
Without Isabel and her siblings knowing, their grandfather Federico Suntay executed an affidavit of settlement of estate dated February 24, 1994, which stated that he was his wife’s only heir.
Upon Federico’s death, Emilio III and Nenita allegedly used this affidavit to take over the disputed property despite knowing that Cristina has other heirs.