by Gerry Albert Corpuz, Billy Javier Reyes and Sugar Hicap
Manila, Philippines- Leaders of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) filed on Tuesday a disqualification case against former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In their 4-page disqualification case against Yap, Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap and Vice-chairperson Salvador France said the former agriculture secretary lacks qualification to run as congressman for the third district of Bohol because he is not a resident of province 3rd district. The Pamalakaya leaders said the position for which Yap filed a certificate of candidacy requires that a candidate be a resident of the district (3rd District of Bohol) for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the May 10, 2010 elections.
Hicap and France asserted Secretary Yap failed to meet the qualification because the former agriculture secretary still live in Ortigas, Pasig City and there is no evidence or overt act that Yap abandoned his domicile of origin. Both fisherfolk leaders said their case against Yap is similar to the recently concluded case decided by the poll body against actor Richard Gomez who was barred by Comelec from running in Leyte over the question of domicile.
“More than the issue of residency is the stockpile of graft charges filed by against Secretary Yap before the Office of the Ombudsman regarding irregular and highly questionable use of taxpayers’ money by the agriculture department. This disqualification case pertaining to lack of qualification to run on the basis of residency is just part of the whole process to unearth the truth on controversies surrounding this controversial cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the Pamalakaya leaders added.
Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against Yap in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. Included in the charge sheet are President Arroyo and other officials of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA. On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam is the P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.
“We filed this case not to spoil the political ambition of Sec. Yap. We filed this case because we want truth and justice to prevail over the narrow interest of new breed of traditional and corrupt politician like Sec. Yap,” the fisherfolk alliance added.
Pamalakaya maintained Sec. Yap cannot even speak the language of Boholanos. The group also said the respondent and his family continue to stay in Metro Manila and that in the concept of domicile under election laws is at Alexandra Residence in Pasig City.
“How can he live and reside in Bohol when Sec. Yap practices his profession and conducts his business in Metro Manila? He continues to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Makati Chapter and likewise holds office in Quezon City. He cannot even speak the language of Boholanos and the people of Central Visayas verbally and by heart. It is really impossible” the group said.
The militant group asserted that Sec. Yap is not domiciled in Barangay, Buenavista in Loboc, Bohol or anywhere within the 3rd legislative district of Bohol. It said the respondent does not have real, substantial and material ties to the locality as to qualify him a resident of the said legislative district, adding that Sec. Yap spends much more time in Metro Manila than in Bohol.
“His visits in Bohol are infrequent, short and transient,” said Pamalakaya. #