By Ben Serrano
Cabadbaran City Mayor Katrina O. Mortola on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges of violence against women and children filed by her defeated rival Judy Chin Amante.
The plea of not guilty was entered during the arraignment proceedings for the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act of 2004 charge filed against Mortola and Agusan del Norte Rep. Erlpe John Amante before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 34, Cabadbaran City on Thursday morning.
The charges stemmed from the allegations of Judy Chin Amante accusing her husband, with whom she has three children of domestic violence and extramarital affair with Mortola.
The solon was not present but was represented by his lawyer, who asked for the lawmaker’s arraignment to be moved to October 2.
The first hearing date is set on November 14.
It can be recalled that Amante filed concubinage and VAWC charges against Mortola and her estranged husband.
But in November 24, 2016, for failure to prove cohabitation, then acting Cabadbaran prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna, Jr. dropped the concubinage complaint but ordered the filing of VAWC case against the two.
It was the first time Amante and Mayor Mortola meet face to face inside a small court room which was filled with silence and tension.
Amante claimed one of the sisters of Mortola who accompanied the mayor inside the courtroom allegedly shoved her by which she admitted she also retaliated back.
“As they passed by me, one of the companion of Katrina, her sister shove me and I retaliated, thus, I heard the sister saying, “yuck! nakaka-stress,” then they passed by me, ” Amante told reporters in a press briefing.
Lawyer Gilbert Ocampo, counsel for Judy Amante, said the case against the two elected officials involved public interest and morality.
“In the bar of public opinion and discourse due raising up of the issues of morality not only in public governance and but also public officials as role models, ” Ocampo said.
After the press conference, reporters went to Cabadbaran City Mayor’s Office to get the lady mayor’s side and that of her sister about alleged shoving incident but to no avail.