By Paulo Loreto Lim
Former Bacolod City Councilor and 2016 Liberal Party candidate for Bacolod Lone District representative Carl Lopez pled not guilty before the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division in Quezon City in relation to his usurpation of authority case.
According to the decision, signed by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, Lopez and his legal counsel, Atty. Melvin Cydrick Bughao, attended preliminary hearings both yesterday and on September 11.
Pre-trial, where the prosecution and defense lay the ground rules for the formal trial, is scheduled for October 6.
Lopez was accused by former Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella of unlawfully issuing truck ban exemptions to certain companies and individuals, which is a function of the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO).
The former city councilor previously denied the accusations, claiming the letters he sent regarding the exemptions were “merely recommendations.”
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier dismissed Lopez from office, however, with his current separation from office, the penalty was converted into a fine equivalent to one year’s salary, which may be deducted from his retirement benefits./WDJ