MANILA — Lawyer Joel Bander, a prominent Los Angeles attorney for Filipino-Americans, has been declared innocent of charges for allegedly committing ‘acts of lasciviousness’ by Judge Joel Lucanan of Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 27.
Bander was accused and indicted by a ficticious Cristina San Jose for acts of lasciviousness five years ago.
Records of the case had shown that Bander’s case was used as an excuse in a systematic scheme to discredit and harass him after he argued one side of a civil case in Southern California.
In making the decision, Judge Joel Lucanan found the complainant to be a fictitious person who gave an abandoned warehouse for her home address and never appeared in court to confront the accused.
The L.A. lawyer was represented in the local court by Atty. Sigfrid Fortun.
“I finally got justice for a crime I did not commit,” Bander said after his acquittal. “I got a first-hand lesson on how the justice system works in the Philippines and it is not funny,” the Los Angeles attorney added.
He added “the false charges were brought by my litigation opponents because I was fighting for justice for Filipino-Americans.”
Judge Lucanan found there was no substantial admissible evidence to warrant the case going forward and dismissed it. He also recalled and set aside a warrant of arrest hi issued against the accused last Jan. 3.
Records related to the dismissed case had shown that Joel Bander, on instigation of officials of the NAIA Press Club, and using the pending case as evidence, got former Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan to include him in the Bureau of Immigration’s watch list of undesirable aliens.
Libanan’s successor, Ronaldo Ledesma, later reversed Marcelino Libanan’s hold departure order.
Other trumped up charges of illegal recruitment were also heaped on the California immigration attorney in news items published in several tabloid newspapers in Metro Manila between the time he was sued until 2010.
One set of stories farmed out to media mentioned complainant and court branch in their reports that were later found to be non-existent. In fighting for justice, Joel Bander’s lawyer had sought for a reinvestigation, bailed Joel Bander out when issued a warrant of arrest while out of the country and went all the way to the Department of Justice to review the charges.