Friday, October 3, 2008

New prosecutor to handle Revilla case

A new prosecutor will handle the preliminary investigation of the child abuse case against Princess Revilla, sister of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., filed by her former maid.

Lawyers of Renalyn Arota, 17, sought a new prosecutor after they expressed concern that she would not get a fair hearing. They asked the former prosecutor, Dennis Pastrana, to inhibit himself from the case for allegedly showing “extraordinary preferential treatment” to Revilla. The Pasig Regional Trial Court resumes hearing of the case this month when the new prosecutor, who has yet to be named, will take over.

In a motion filed in August, lawyers Yvonne Gaddi-Festejo and Irene Alogoc said certain acts of Pastrana created “serious doubts in the mind of the complainant as to his impartiality.”

The lawyers said that during the July 14 hearing, for example, the prosecutor allowed Arota’s mother and relatives to participate in the proceedings “despite the fact that they are not parties to the case.”

Arota’s mother allegedly tried to take her daughter forcibly after failing to convince the young girl to drop the case.

Pastrana, the lawyers claimed, did not even attempt to control the situation.

They also said Pastrana changed the time of the July 28 hearing from 2 p.m. to 11 a.m., without informing the complainant and her lawyers.

Pastrana, they said, had their contact numbers and Arota was staying at the Department of Social Work and Development’s Pasig office in a building nearby.

During the hearing, the prosecutor received counter-affidavits of Revilla’s witnesses. Arota, her lawyers said, was deprived the right to confirm the identity of the witnesses.

“With due respect, what transpired in the preliminary investigation on July 28, 2008 created serious doubt in the mind of the complainant as to the impartiality of the Honorable Fiscal,” the lawyers said in their motion.

Arota filed the child abuse case against Revilla in June after allegedly escaping from her former employer’s Valle Verde residence on June 12. She told the police she had been beaten with a broomstick.

She also claimed she was maltreated a number of times and on March 28 and was illegally detained at her employer’s condominium on Roxas Boulevard after she was allegedly mauled.

Revilla denied Arota’s claims in earlier affidavits, adding that the housemaid ceased to be her employee at the end of March.

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