REGIONAL Trial Court Branch 16 Judge Sylva Aguirre-Paderanga inhibited herself from handling the civil suit that Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia filed against Gov. Hilario

Davide III and Dumanjug Vice Mayor Efren Gica last month.

Garcia’s civil petition for certiorari, prohibition and injunction was raffled to Paderanga’s sala on June 2.

But she voluntarily backed off from hearing the case since her son, lawyer Gerik Caesare, is a consultant for legal and legislative matters of Provincial Board Member Celestino Martinez III.

“To avoid presumed bias and prejudice, the undersigned deems it appropriate to recuse herself from trying this case in order not to impair public confidence in the integrity of the court, the only institution which is the last bastion of justice and the armor of democracy,” said Judge Paderanga in her two-page order.

Reason

Paderanga invoked Sec. 1, Par. 2, of Rule 137 of the Revised Rules of Court, which states that “a judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case for just or valid reasons.”

Paderanga ordered the case records forwarded to Executive Judge Soliver Peras for re-raffle of the petition.

Garcia filed the petition to reverse the 60-day preventive suspension that provincial officials imposed on him for allegedly committing grave abuse of authority.

He accused Davide and Gica of grave abuse of discretion.

Garcia’s lawyers include his brother and former third district congressman Pablo John

Garcia, Ramsey Quijano and Jemil Christian Marquez.

Suspension

Gov. Davide placed Garcia under 60-day preventive suspension based on the Provincial Board’s recommendation for grave abuse of authority on April 11.

Gica filed an administrative complaint against Garcia in September 2013 for allegedly usurping the power of the vice mayor when the latter designated a new Sangguniang Bayan secretary.

In his three-page order, Davide agreed with the findings of the PB’s committee on complaints and investigation, which was tasked to resolve the administrative complaint filed by Gica.

In the 36-page petition, Garcia’s lawyers said that Davide and the PB disregarded Section 63 of the Local Government Code when they denied the mayor due process and fair play.

They said Davide and the PB committed grave abuse of discretion when they placed Garcia under preventive suspension.

They said Vice Mayor Gica failed to allege in his complaint any element of “corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule.”

Garcia’s lawyers asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order, or status quo ante, to allow him to continue the discharge of his functions of his “rightful office of mayor.”

Garcia belongs to One Cebu Party, headed by former governor and now Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu, 3rd District). Gica is an ally of the administration’s Liberal Party.