Former Rep. Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez is asking the Bacolod City Election Registration Board to dismiss the opposition to the transfer of his voter registration from Victorias City to Bacolod City.
Benitez, in his position paper filed by his lawyer Andrei Saril on Wednesday, July 21, before the ERB, asked that the transfer of his voter registration instead be approved.
Three oppositiors – Hector Yula, Teodoro Abao and Jonah Abao, who are allied with Grupo Progreso, the party of Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, are opposing the transfer of the voter registration of Benitez to Bacolod City.
Benitez has announced that he is running for mayor of Bacolod in 2022 against Leonardia.
The prefatory statement in the 27-page position paper of Benitez states that there is nothing “wrong in an individual changing residences so he could run for an elective post, for as long as he is able to prove with reasonable certainty that he has effected a change of residence for election law purposes for the period required by law.”
Benitez position paper states that the oppositors failed to prove their standing to file their opposition, and the affidavits of their witnesses do not establish their allegations of his non-residency in his family’s compound at Mountain View Subdivision in Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City.
The affidavits of the oppositors are self-serving, incredible and deserve scant consideration, the position paper also said.
The position paper also stated that witnesses have established Benitez residence in Bacolod City, and a usufruct agreement and his purchase of properties show his intent to permanently reside in Bacolod City.
It also said the absence of utility bills in the name of Benitez does not prove non-residence, and there is no proof that his community tax certificate (CTC) was falsified.
There is, on the other hand, overwhelming evidence that Benitez has established his domicile in Bacolod City, the position paper said.
The position paper also assailed the affidavits of the two witnesses of the oppositors claiming that Benitez is not a resident of Mountain View Subdivision.
Sue-Ann H. Bacan claims she lives in Porferia Mountain View Subdivision, that is not even within the proximity of the Bantug Compound in Mt. Madalagan-Mt. Kanlaon streets of Mountain View Subdivision where Benitez lives, the position paper said.
Porferia Subdivision is separated from Mountain View Subdivision by a perimeter fence and its gate is only opened every Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. to allow residents to go to the chapel for mass, it said.
Bacan clearly does not reside in the same subdivision where Benitez resides, the position paper said.
How Bacan allegedly came to know that Benitez does not reside in the Bantug Compound is very dubious. While Bacan claims to have done health campaigns, subdivision rounds on dog vaccinations and COVID-19 monitoring in the area, she does not even allege that she had actually visited the Bantug Compound or had asked any person residing there whether a certain Alfredo Abelardo B. Benitez is residing there, the position paper said.
As to the affidavit of Geronimo Teofisto Paculan Estrella, it fares a lot worse than that of Bacan, the position paper said.
Estrella’s affidavit claims he resides at 23 Mandalagan Avenue, Mountain View Subdivision, which is across the Bantug Compound.
However, Estrella’s very own mother, Evangeline Paculan Estrella, who is the one who actually lives at 23 Mandalagan Avenue, states that he no longer resides with her and in fact has been living at City Heights Subdivision, Bacolod City, since 2007, the position paper said.
The position paper also said that none of the three oppositors live at Mountain View Subdivision.
The Bantug Compound is not visible from outside the subdivision, it added.
On top of that, Mountain View Subdivision is a private village and non-residents are ordinarily not allowed entry unless they are visiting one of the residents, it added.
The position paper also cited the oppositors bias for the political rivals of Benitez, particularly “Grupo Progresso” headed by Leonardia.
Jonah Abao is an acting market supervisor appointed to the position by Grupo Progresso, who is the same person who threatened Benitez when he visited Libertad Public Market, the position paper said.
Hector Yula is a Bacolod City job order casual, and Teodoro Abao, is also allied with Grupo Progreso, the position paper added.
On the other hand, there is more than sufficient evidence to show that Benitez has established his domicile in Brgy. Mandalagan before he filed his application for transfer of registration records to Bacolod City, the position paper said.
Andres Ferrer, the current president of Mountain View Subdivision, has attested that he has verified and confirmed on April 20, 2021 that Benitez had moved into the Bantug Compound, it said.
The position paper also disputed the claim of the oppositors that the CTC of Benitez was falsified.
The main thesis of oppositors in claiming that the CTC was falsified is the fact that the income of Benitez is only Php500,000, while his assets and net worth exceed a billion pesos.
The oppositors may need a crash course in basic financial terminologies, income and capital that are defined and distinguished from each other by the Supreme Court, the position paper said.
“The entity may have billions in terms of assets or capital, yet, their income may actually be negative, it cited the SC ruling as saying.*