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Let Comelec decide on petition against Benitez

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday that the opposition to the application of former Rep. Alfredo Benitez of transferring his voting registration to Bacolod City should be left for the Comelec to decide.

The Comelec Election Registration Board is slated to convene July 19 to hear the petition filed before the Commission on Election in Bacolod City, questioning the transfer of voting registration of Benitez to Bacolod City.

RESIDENCY QUESTIONED

Marcus Aurelian Vaflor, counsel of three petitioners, who questioned the residency of Benitez in Brgy. Mandalagan, Bacolod City, disclosed in a press conference Wednesday, that his clients maintained that Benitez is “not a resident of Brgy. Mandalagan, hence, he is not a resident of Bacolod City”.

Aside from Benitez, Vaflor said his clients are also opposing the applications of 220 other persons to become registered voters of Bacolod City, claiming they are not residents of the city.

Teodoro Abao, a resident of Brgy. Mandalagan for 45 years, who also served as a barangay kagawad from 1997 to 2002, and from 2007 to 2010, in his issued sworn affidavit, said, “I am certain that there is no Benitez family, especially by its head of the family in the name of Alfredo Abelardo B. Benitez who resides, or actually transferred within the compound of the Bantug family, or within Mountain View Subdivision for that matter”.

UNSEEN?

“I have never seen him in the vicinity of his purported residence address. Neither have we seen Mr. Benitez or any member of his family, much less of his wife, or his children engaging themselves, or participating in any of the community, civil or social activities of our barangay,” he stressed.

Lacson said he expects that there will be an opposition to the transfer of residence of former Rep. Benitez to Bacolod City.

Benitez has yet to declare if he will run, or not, as mayor of Bacolod City, in next year’s elections, although he was seen visiting the different barangays of Bacolod City, and even extended financial assistance to victims of fire incidents.

Lacson, who was among the Negros Occidental officials who urged Benitez to run for mayor of Bacolod City, said it is not an isolated case, or situation, where a voter has transferred his residency. “We will just have to wait the decision of Comelec,” he added.

THREE DAYS ONLY

To back their claims that Benitez is not a resident of Bacolod City, Vaflor said they included in their evidence proof that Benitez bought a piece of land in Bacolod City, three days before he applied before the Comelec for his transfer of voter registration, that he added has no water and electricity, that indicates he is not residing in the area.

Benitez, in an issued statement, said he is confident that those moves against him will not prosper, stressing that he complied all the requirements being required by the law.

Vaflor said they are studying the possibility of filing criminal charges against them for lying under oath for claiming that they are residents of Bacolod City, when in fact, they are not.*

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