By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Trinity Biglang Awa
MANILA, Philippines-Controversial former agriculture secretary and unopposed congressional candidate in Bohol’s third district Arthur Yap has accumulated 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast and appeared shoo-in for the elective post.
However, Yap’s nemesis—the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), that filed a disqualification case against the former agriculture secretary on the question of residency refused to give up, stressing it will explore all available legal remedies to stop Yap’s illegal and immoral claim to represent the people of Bohol in the third district.
“His electoral victory is a product of political horse trading, highly questionable and totally ridiculous. We will explore all legal remedies to stop Sec. Yap from misrepresenting the third district of Bohol and use his illegally acquired position to get away with high crimes of corruption he committed during his tenure as chief of the agriculture department,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, one of the petitioners in the disqualification case against Yap.
In the latest manifestation submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the lawyers of Sec. Yap said the poll body should immediately dismiss the disqualification case filed by Pamalakaya on March 9, saying that their client was able to garner 126,390 votes out of 173,539 total votes cast. According to Yap’s lawyers, this represents 72.8 percent of the total votes cast or an overwhelming majority.
Citing a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Sinaca vs. Mula (G.R No. 135691, September 27, 1999, 315 SCRA 266,282), Yap’s legal counsel asserted that when a candidate has perceived popular mandate overwhelmingly and clearly expressed, all possible doubts should be resolved in favor of the candidate’s eligibility for to rule otherwise is to defeat the will of the people.
Ex-sec. Yap lawyers said, the determination of the true will of the electorate should be paramount, and that the voice of the people should prevail which is the essence of democracy.
Meanwhile, Hicap assailed Comelec Chairman Jose Melo over the latter’s continuing snub of the disqualification case they filed against Sec. Yap. The Pamalakaya official said the poll body has yet to tackle the disqualification case filed by his group two months before the May 10 elections.
“But Chairman Melo and the rest of the commissioners did not perform their assignment and constitutional mandate. They allowed Yap to run while there is an urgent case waiting for their final resolution ahead of the May 10 polls. This is terrible, really terrible,” the group sad.
“It seems to us Chairman Melo is afraid of Secretary Yap because the former agriculture secretary is no ordinary person for the poll chief and taking up Yap’s case is like entertaining a major fight with Malacanang and Yap’s political benefactors in and out of Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya.
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya will send appeal letters to incoming congressmen to investigate cases of corruption involving Sec. Yap particularly the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machines. The militant group said they will also ask the new congress under the Aquino presidency to investigate the unchecked operations of the National Agribusiness Council (Nabcor), an attached agency of DA which is implicated the questionable importation of 98 quick freezing machines.
On top of the P 455 million ice making fund scam, Pamalakaya said Yap and other NABCOR officials should also be investigated on the
P 7.14 billion which the Commission on Audit (COA) cited in its’ 2008 report was missing, diverted or bungled.