BAGUIO CITY – The Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed separate petitions for the disqualification of Malcolm Square punong barangay Alona Soliman Cruz and former barangay kagawad Jefferson Baldo Lawiyan for lack of merit.
In a 7-page resolution, the poll body initially dismissed the aforesaid cases in an order dated 28 January 2014 for failure on the part of the petitioners to submit proof of service to the respondents, failure to submit a soft copy of the petition and failure to pay the correct filing and legal research fees.
After having admitted a belatedly filed motion for reconsideration, the second division reconsidered the previous order and gave due course to the petition.
The petitioners on the disqualification cases alleged that Cruz and Lawiyan used No. 20 Jacinto St., and No. 23 Jacinto St., Malcolm Square as their respective addresses in their sworn certificates of candidacy for the October 28, 2013 barangay and SK elections and that the information they supplied was a deliberate falsehood because the address corresponds to units within Ong building in the first floor and that they were never residents of the said building which is being administered by the petitioner.
The petition added that it is not Cruz but it is tenant Asimah Mangorangca and her family who resides at No. 20 Jacinto St. and has been residing thereat since February 2012 and that Cruz falsely represented in her COC that she is a resident of barangay Malcolm Square for eleven years because she never resided in the said address she placed in her COC.
In dismissing the case against Cruz, the Comelec cited that the pieces of evidence to be considered are only those presented and marked as petitioner’s and basic is the rule that in administrative proceedings, like the one for cancellation of COC, the burden of proving the allegations in the petition lies in the petitioners and no other.
The poll body cited failure to discharge the burden makes the petition ripe for dismissal and that in the case, the petitioners failed to prove the COC of Cruz should be cancelled.
Further, the Comelec cited that from the quoted definition of material misrepresentation, it is clear that before the misrepresentation in the case could be considered material, the same must refer not to his or exact address but to the requisite residency, that is the fact of residency and the period of such residency in the locality.
The decision cited that Cruz represented in her COC that she resides at No. 20 Jacinto St., barangay Malcolm Square and that she has been a resident thereof for eleven years but the petitioners filed to prove that Cruz does not reside in the exact address.
Even if the petitioners was successful in proving the said fact, the poll body asserted that she failed to substantially prove that Cruz is not a resident of barangay Malcom Square for at least a year immediately preceding the barangay and SK elections.
The decision stated that if only Cruz\ was diligent enough to appear in the scheduled conference of the case, she could have easily rebutted petitioners allegations with proof showing that the real problem in the case is the proper numbering of the buildings along Jacinto St. and no other. It ruled that Cruz was from the start qualified to run and be voted to the position of punong barangay while the case of Lawiyan was dismissed for being moot and academic after losing the elections. By Dexter A. See