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Fiscal asks Court to order arrest of former Palompon vice-mayor Constantino Tupa

THE QUEEN OF ISABEL JOMALYN SELDURA gets her crown from the outgoing Ms Isabel during the town’s coronation night on January 14, 2011. Ms Seldura was sponsored by the LIDE Management Corp. She was crowned by Leyte governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and Mrs. Julida Codilla, wife of Ormoc mayor Eric Codilla. Also in the picture is the 1st runner up Ms Keena Mary Anne Sumido who was sponsored by the Continental Shipping Agency. This year’s fiesta execom was headed by the LGU in cooperation with the VSU-Isabel Campus.

PALOMPON, LEYTE – Prosecutor Lorna Obus-Pades has asked the Court here to order the arrest of former vice-mayor Constantino Tupa of this town after the Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the Regional Trial Court of the complaints of child abuse and qualified seduction filed against him by a minor in 2004.
To recall, the cases were filed against Tupa, a widower, by a minor who was 14 at the time of the alleged incidents. Two cases are for child abuse and another two for qualified seduction.
The former vice-mayor admitted to having sexual relations with her in his counter-affidavits but said he had been made to believe she was already 18. He also added that the case filed against him was politically motivated.
The girl subsequently retracted from her statements, but not before she gave her testimony in Court. The cases were dismissed by the second judge who handled it, after the first trial judge reached the age of retirement.
Government prosecutors, however, appealed the case to the CA, believing there was abuse of discretion on the part of the second judge who dismissed it.
In its decision dated December 15, 2010 yet, the 18th division of the CA in Cebu City said that perusing the circumstances, “this Court is of the belief that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in view of the court’s perception towards (the girl’s) recantation.”
The CA noted that “it is a settled rule that recantations are frowned upon the courts which are exceedingly unreliable, for there is always the probability that such recantation may later on be itself repudiated”.
In the case at hand, the CA added, “AAA was a young lady who did not finish schooling. As against respondent Tupa who was the Vice Mayor of Palompon, this circumstance put in serious doubt the veracity of her subsequent recantation”.
The CA also noted that the previous judge who received the girl’s testimony junked two times efforts of Tupa’s camp to dismiss the case after she recanted, saying “the court had the occasion to observe the demeanor of the private offended party when she testified in court … the court did not see her as being manipulated and coached. Her declarations were direct, unhesitant and vivid”.
The CA said they found no reason to deviate from the judge’s observation.
In the dispositive version, the CA ordered the dismissals of the four cases filed against Tupa as “void and are set aside”, and for the trial court to “proceed and render judgment based on the evidence of the prosecution”.
The decision was rendered by associate justice Socorro B. Inting with the concurrence of associate justices Portia A. Hormachuelos and Edwin D. Sorongon. By Lalaine M. Jimenea

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