BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The Second Division of the Philippine poll body has dismissed the petition for poll protest filed by former Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia against sitting Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez saying, among others, that an election protest must not be used as a “vindication of a lost opportunity to serve the public, or worst, as an unjustified assertion of a wounded pride.”
A publicist of Benitez furnished DNX Friday last week a copy of the nine-page decision dated 7 September 2022 signed by Presiding Commissioner Marlon S Casquejo and signed by commission senior member Rey E Bulay.
The Second Division pointed out three grounds in dismissing the petition:
First: the Second Division has no authority over the petition as the allegations show that it should have been filed with the “… Law Department of the Commission or with the offices of the Election Registrars, Provincial Election Supervisors or Regional Election Directors…” because the allegations on vote buying, illegal campaigning and the presence of police officers in polling precincts cannot be probed by the Division that will expand its scope of it does so.
Second, the Division noted the protest” “does not obviously call for the recount of ballots or re-tabulation of election returns which are considered the “heart” of any protest case (except in quo warrant cases where the ineligibility of the winning candidate is the main issue).”
Third, the petition failed to comply with the mandatory contents of”… an election protest pursuant to Section 7(g), Rule 6 COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended, that requires detailed specifications of the acts or omissions contained in the protested precincts.
Leonardia, his spokesman Chris Sorongon, and his local lawyers, have not replied to calls and SMS messages from DNX that have repeatedly sought them for comment.