MOTHER FREE, NOW IN HIDING
Woman applies for Witness Protection Program; Fiscal tries to persuade mother of his kids to drop complaint
After spending three nights in jail, a woman accused of stoning the car of a prosecutor was released yesterday without charges from the Carbon police precinct in Cebu City.
Jocelyn Sala, a 28-year-old mother of a sick baby, is now a candidate for the Witness Protection Program after she was put in jail by the infant’s father, a married prosecutor, who was fed up with her persistent pleas for financial aid when she followed him to his office.
Sala, who said she feared for her life, was escorted out of the station past 4 p.m. by Prosecutor Liza Jorda.
Jorda, a member of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, said the case involved a violation of a special law, Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Act of 2004.
Sala executed an affidavit to support the filing of a case later against her former boyfriend, Cebu Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Dionilo Manto, who made a “citizens’ arrest” last Friday for “direct assault”.
He accused Sala of throwing a rock at his car and damaging the side door when he tried to drive off to get away from her.
Sala’s application for the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice (DOJ) will still need to be evaluated.
At about 2 p.m., Mantos found time to visit the single mother at the station and ask about her plans.
He calmly walked in alone and approached her directly in an ante-room where Sala was sitting on a table.
“Unsa may plano nimo ron? Dayon jud ta aning kinihaay nato? (What are your plans? Are we going to pursue filing charges against each other?)” asked Mantos. Sala, wearing a borrowed bathrobe, listened quietly and just nodded her head.
The prosecutor reminded her about their two children. He is sending her P2,000 a week or P8,000 a month as financial support for a 5-year-old girl and 8-month-old baby.
“Kung gusto jud ka, magsige ta’g away ani, wa may daog nato ani (If we keep on fighting, none of us will win),” he said.
“Pagdesisyon og klaro kay mag-agad rako nimo (Decide now. My decision depends on you),” he said.
The prosecutor said he had no problem filing a case but that she would have to stay in jail.
After her release at 4 p.m., the single mother was taken to a safe house while her application for protection is being processed.
Her allegations of death threats will still have to be evaluated, said Prosecutor Llena Ipong-Avila, head of the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program in Central Visayas.
Avila said she expects to meet Sala at her office another time.
“I need to evaluate whether she will be admitted to the witness protection program,” she said.
Mantos reported for work yesterday in the Prosecutor’s Office in the Metro Park Building along Osmeña Boulevard.
He showed up at 2 p.m. then left for the police station. He returned around 2:45 p.m. to conduct mediation proceedings.
Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, in an interview last Saturday, said he was aware of a complaint filed against Mantos by the woman last November and sent it to the Internal Affairs Unit.
“I won’t make any comment for now. Let’s just wait for the outcome of the case,” he told CDN over the phone yesterday.
“All I have are rumors.”
Sala got nervous when Mantos tried to call her on the police hotline past 8 a.m. yesterday. She refused to take the call.
By then, the story of his “citizens’ arrest” and the woman’s circumstances was out in Cebu Daily News front page.
“Bisan unsa pa iyang buhaton kay mo-file gyud ko’g kaso kay iya na man gud ni nga gisugdan nga iyaha ko nga gipapriso dinhi (Whatever he does, I’m determined to file charges. He started this all; he put me in jail first),” Sala told CDN.
Sala said she was chasing the man down to ask him for financial aid for hospitalization because their baby was running a high fever.
He ignored her, and got into his car to drive off.
Sala admitted holding a rock but she said the car took off so fast, she had barely enough time to avoid getting hit, and the rock scraped the side of the car.
Her family was unaware that she was in jail.
When CDN traced the whereabouts of her children in Liloan town on Sunday, her mother and sibling persistently asked for her whereabouts. Policemen in the Carbon station took pity on the woman and chipped in to raise some money for her to send to her family for her baby’s milk and diapers.
A Sept. 23, 2015 certificate of an “amicable settlement” confirmed the children’s paternity.
In the document, Mantos pledged to give his former girlfriend P2,000 a week as child support.
A blotter report dated Oct. 15, 2015 in the Liloan Police Station recorded a complaint of the woman who said Mantos hurt her in front of their five-year-old kid.
Sala went to the police station to report that Mantos pulled her right arm, punched her left arm and tried to choke her in front of their 5-year-old child. She said the little girl was struck in the chest during the commotion.
No charges were filed. Mantos tried again yesterday to negotiate with Sala not to press charges against him.
After their conversation, he approached PO2 Elrich Catacutan, the investigator, who asked him to sign the complaint for direct assault so it could be filed before 5 p.m.
But Mantos kept saying “later na.”
He left the room after banging the door.
The police officer said he had no choice but to release Sala by 4 p.m., since there were no charges filed within the reglementary period for detention of a suspect. Otherwise, the police would be liable for arbitrary detention.
“Kami may maipit ani (We are the ones who will be squeezed in this),” lamented the police officer.
A few minutes before 4 p.m., Prosecutor Jorda showed up in a taxi cab and processed the mother’s release.
Prosecutor Mantos returned after 4 p.m. to apologize to Catacutan for his conduct. He asked where the woman went.
Told that she was released to Prosecutor Jorda, Mantos said that he would go to the prosecutor’s office to look for Sala.
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