Arraignment in Ormoc: Batangas mayor pleads ‘not guilty’ to rape, human trafficking charges
Lalaine Jimenea (The Freeman) - January 26, 2016 - 9:00am

ORMOC CITY, Philippines – Mataasnakahoy town Mayor Jay Ilagan of Batangas province yesterday pleaded “not guilty” to rape and human trafficking charges in this city, during his arraigment before Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Clinton Nuevo.

Ilagan also evaded detention at the City Jail here, after the judge agreed to his temporary continued detention at the National Bureau of Investigation-Region 8 office in Tacloban City.

The mayor surrendered to the NBI-Manila on Monday, after he did not appear at a pre-scheduled surrender before the Ormoc judge last Tuesday, January 19, citing “security reasons,” which was also the contention of his lawyers in asking for detention at the NBI-Tacloban instead of in the Ormoc City Jail.

The lawyers argued that the mayor would be more secured at the NBI, instead of in the City Jail here, citing that he has a “powerful enemy” capable of harming him, besides the prevailing congestion of the jail, housing 335 inmates.

Ilagan’s lawyers were Cynthia Roxas, Beulah Coeli Fiel and Evergisto Escalon.

Public prosecutor Erwin James Fabriga, on the other hand, objected to the motion, saying he “cannot see the wisdom” why the mayor, allegedly afraid for his life, was comfortable travelling for hours on the road with the NBI to and from Tacloban City, than be detained at the City Jail.

Judge Nuevo however eventualy granted Ilagan’s request for NBI custody, but set a hearing of the case on January 29. He also ordered the BJMP officials to comment whether they were capable of securing Ilagan, in case the mayor is detained at the jail.

Ilagan’s lawyers, on the other hand, said they will give the judge a CD documenting how 114 law enforcers stormed the mayor’s farm in a raid, which they imputed was machinated by the mayor’s political enemies and was not coordinated with the local police. The video, they claimed, included a portion where the mayor’s 8-year-old son was held at gunpoint during the incident.

While his lawyers did not name the law enforcement agency, the beleaguered mayor alleged to the media they were the “CIDG and the SAF.”

Ilagan was accused by a woman, who works at a beauty parlor in Quezon City, for bringing her to Ormoc City on November 5, 2013, and raping her in the evening. Named as his conspirator in the human trafficking case was one Dinah Tupas or “Ate Dina”, reportedly the woman’s employer, who was the one who told her to accompany the mayor to Ormoc and help him set up a beauty parlor business here.

Ilagan had insisted the charges are trumped up and he was not here in Ormoc. “I just woke up one day and learned I had a warrant of arrest here,” added the mayor, who is seeking for re-election this May elections under the Liberal Party. (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ATE DINA BEULAH COELI FIEL AND EVERGISTO ESCALON CITY CITY JAIL CYNTHIA ROXAS DINAH TUPAS ILAGAN MAYOR ORMOC TACLOBAN CITY
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