Philippine president “orders” poll body to let favored bet run in May elections?

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Trinity Biglang Awa and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines- The 28 national council leaders of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said the annoucement of President Gloria Macapagal-ArroyoGloria Macapagal-Arroyo declaring former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap a sure winner in the third district of Bohol is a marching order to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to junk Pamalakaya’s disqualification case filed against Yap.

“We were not born yesterday. President Arroyo’s political prophecy declaring Secretary Yap as congressman of third district of Bohol is a marching order from Malacanang to Comelec to kill the disqualification case against Yap,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Ya is running unopposed in his wife’s home province but on March 9, Pamalakaya filed a disqualification case against him for lack of residency.

President Arroyo who was the guest speaker at the first anniversary of a housing project for squatters moved out of Pasig River and victims of typhoons in Marikina and Pasig cities said she was sure of Yap’s unopposed victory in the third district of Bohol.

“Even if he alone votes for himself, Arthur Yap will become congressman because he is unopposed,” said Ms Arroyo.“I asked Yap to sit with me because even if he was already a former government official and now in the private sector and will become congressman,” Arroyo said.

Last week, Pamalakaya asked the Comelec to immediately tackle the disqualification case against Secretary Yap, adding it was puzzled by the development that the poll body has yet to tackle the case against Yap.

The group likewise filed supplemental information to Comelec to beef up the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The supplemental information was signed by three officials of Barangay Buenavista, municipal of Loboc disproving Yap’s claim that he lives in the village and a resident of the far-flung barangay, which the former agriculture secretary claimed as his present address as shown in his certificate of candidacy.

The supplemental information carried the signatures of former Barangay Buenavista secretary Corbino Cuhit, incumbent barangay councilor Basilio Balog and resident Mateo Ratonel, brother of incumbent barangay councilor Boy Ratonel which said that Yap was never been a resident of the barangay and the controversial secretary just arrived in their village at the start of the election season.

The three said the house and the address referred by Sec. Yap as his official domicile in Buenavista, Loboc is a far-flung community which is not passable to any regular vehicle except single motorcycles due to rough road and mountainous curves.

In their 4-page disqualification case against Yap filed last March 9, Pamalakaya 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 group asserted 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.

Pamalakaya maintained Secretary Yap failed to meet the qualification because the former agriculture secretary still lives in Ortigas, Pasig City and there is no evidence or overt act that Yap abandoned his domicile of origin. The group 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,” said Pamalakaya.

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 underelection 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. #

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Filed under agriculture, corruption, elections, politics

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