CA junks contempt case vs Abalos lawyer

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 27 2012 09:39 PM | Updated as of Mar 28 2012 05:39 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed a contempt case against lawyer Brigido Dulay, counsel for former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos in an electoral sabotage case pending before a lower court.

In a 21-page decision dated March 22, 2012 that was released to media on Tuesday, the appellate court's 12th Division also recalled the warrant for Dulay's arrest issued by the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Pasay RTC Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas cited Dulay and Abalos in contempt after Dulay filed a motion for inhibition alleging that certain individuals claiming to be the judge's emissaries tried to extort money from Abalos.

The appellate court said that "the motion for inhibition merely enumerated the factual circumstances which led [Abalos] to believe that he can no longer get an impartial trial from (Judge Mupas)."

"Simply, petitioner (Dulay), as counsel for Abalos, merely relayed to the court a quo specific events which ultimately led petitioner's client (Abalos) to doubt the court a quo's impartiality," the decision read.

The appellate court further said that Dulay's actuations are "neither malicious, offensive or derogatory to the administration of justice as to hold him liable for direct contempt of court."

Dulay, in a statement, said the decision "is a concrete and solid proof that the Philippine judicial system is functioning effectively."

"I never had any doubt that our CA justices would faithfully and impartially carry out their mandate of providing legal relief to anyone seeking redress from a miscarriage of justice in the lower courts," he said.