ZAMBALES, Philippines – The mayor of San Marcelino town in this province, who is charged with raping a 12-year-old girl in 2010 in his rest house, is running unopposed.
Mayor Jose Rodriguez, who denied the rape charges in affidavits filed in court, will need only a single vote to get re-elected despite the ongoing case.
Rodriguez is a key member of Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr’s Sulong Zambales party.
Comelec records reveal that Rodriguez, and Elvis Soria, also from Ebdane’s party Sulong Zambales, have no one contending against them and needs only a single vote each to win their respective posts.
In 2010, court records show that a certain Jonie Ponce, also known as “Jodie,” brought a 12-year-old girl to the mayor’s rest house in San Marcelino on Sept. 12, 2010, where Rodriguez paid for sex. Since the girl was a minor, statutory laws considered the sex acts as rape.
The girl was later rescued by her parent and the social welfare department from Rodriguez. In his defense, Rodriguez claimed that he was on his way to Metro Manila on the day the rape supposedly happened.
In January 2011, Rodriguez was arraigned by Judge Richard Paradeza of Regional Trial Court Branch 72. He 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).
Bayona also sued Ponce 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. In her petition, she said Rodriguez wields “so much authority and influence” in San Marcelino and that her daughter was afraid to testify for fear of her life.
Despite the case, Rodriguez is running unopposed now. In 2010, he had a one-on-one battle against Ana Liza Peralta of the Liberal Party, whom he defeated with a lead of about 4,000 votes.
Rodriguez alleged that the charges against him were just “political’ and meant only to destroy his reputation.
A source who is privy to this Rodriguez’s campaign told Rappler it’s ironic that Rodriguez would claim the charges against him are being pushed by his political opponents.
The mayor’s grip on the town is solid, although people here are also deeply ashamed of what he’s done, said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation from Rodriguez. – Rappler.com
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