BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The petition for exclusion in the voters list of Bacolod Citry, which was filed against former Rep. Alfredo Benitez, who is slated to file his Certificate of Candidacy today at the City COMELEC, was dismissed by the court for “lack of merit.”
Presiding Judge Francisco Pando of Bacolod Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 4, in his 28-page decision dated October 1, said that he dismissed the petition for exclusion, stressing that there is no valid ground to exclude respondent Benitez from the list of registered voters of Precinct Number 0629A, in Brgy. Mandalagan, Bacolod City.
In the petition, Hector Yula, Teodoro Abao and Jonah Tornea Abao claimed that the city’s Election Regulatory Board (ERB) gravely erred when it approved the application of Benitez to vote in Brgy. Mandalagan, Bacolod City.
Considering that the application for the transfer of voter’s registration of respondent Benitez was filed on April 22, 2021, the ERB has no committed error when it made a finding that respondent Benitez was able to meet the six months residency requirements on the day of the election, Pando said.
Upon scrutiny of the evidence submitted by the parties, the court finds that by clear and positive proof, respondent Benitez has complied with all of the requisites to acquire a new domicile by choice in the locality where he proposed to vote, he added.
Pando also noted in his decision that the physical presence of Benitez as resident of Mountain View Subdivision in Brgy. Mandalagan, Bacolod City, particularly at the Bantug compound, has been attested as true by actual occupants, incuding his first cousin, Maria Remedios Hermilinda Bantug, his driver, Renato Olis, Jolyn Regalado and Brandon Chan.
Benitez yesterday said that he already expected such decision of the court.
“The petition is exactly the same, which they filed at the COMELEC,” he added.*