Mayor on trial for rape of girl seeks reelection
OLONGAPO CITY—A Zambales mayor undergoing trial on a charge of raping a 12-year-old girl two years ago is seeking another term to the dismay of the girl’s family.
“Instead of the mayor’s office, [Rodriguez] should be in jail,” the girl’s mother said in a telephone interview on Sunday.
Mayor Jose Rodriguez of San Marcelino town has denied the charge. In an earlier statement, he said the case filed by the girl and her mother was meant to destroy his reputation and cause “political turmoil” in his town.
The girl accused Rodriguez of raping her in the official’s rest house in San Marcelino on Sept. 12, 2010. But Rodriguez said he was on his way to Metro Manila on that day.
During the launch of the local political party, Sulong Zambales, in the capital town of Iba last month, reelectionist Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. raised the hand of Rodriguez, symbolizing his support for the mayor’s reelection bid.
The girl’s mother said she was speechless when she learned that Rodriguez decided to seek reelection despite the case.
In January 2011, Rodriguez was arraigned in the sala of Judge Richard Paradeza of Regional Trial Court Branch 72 and pleaded innocent to the charge of violation of the Anti-Child Abuse Act (Republic Act No. 7610).
Joy Bayona, associate provincial prosecutor, filed an amended complaint against Rodriguez after Paradeza dismissed the trafficking charges under Section 4 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208). She cited Section 11 of RA 9208 for “use of trafficked persons.”
Bayona also sued Jonie Ponce, also known as “Jodie,” for bringing the girl to the mayor’s rest house.
The Supreme Court granted the mother’s request for the transfer of the case from this city to a family court in Manila. The mother, in her petition, said Rodriguez wields “so much authority and influence” in San Marcelino and that her daughter was afraid to testify for fear of her life.
The transfer order, based on the resolution of the Supreme Court’s third division on Aug. 31, 2011, directed the Olongapo RTC to send the records of the criminal cases to the Manila RTC.—Robert Gonzaga
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