Former rep. Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez said Sunday, July 18, that he fully met the requirements to register to vote in Bacolod City and is ready for an Election Registration Board hearing.
Kathrina Trinio-Caña, city election officer and ERB chair, has set the hearing at the Bacolod Commission on Elections office at 9 a.m. Monday, July 19.
Three persons allied with the Grupo Progreso party of Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia filed their opposition to Benitez’s application for registration to vote in the city, for allegedly being a non-resident.
The oppositors claim he is not a resident of Mountain View Subdivision in Bacolod City.
His registration to vote in Bacolod is seen as a prelude to his running for mayor against Leonardia in 2022.
Benitez reiterated that the opposition to his registering to vote in Bacolod City was expected.
“This is a voting registration, this I not the filing of a certificate of candidacy yet, the requirements are very simple,” Benitez told the media before the funeral mass for his uncles Simplicio and Ernesto Palanca in Victorias City.
A person needs to be a resident of the place where he or she plans to vote for at least six months prior to the May 9, 2022, elections, he said.
“It is not six months yet, why are they questioning my residency?” he asked, adding that what his opponents are after is his residency come October if ever if he files a certificate of candidacy to run for office in Bacolod City.
There have been several decisions by the Supreme Court on the requirements needed to establish one’s residency, and he has met those, he said.
Benitez also said no violation was committed when he paid P500 for his Community Tax Certificate as alleged by the oppositors.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic last year, he decided to forego with the salaries he was receiving from the businesses he is connected with to help the employees and the corporations, Benitez said.
He said the oppositors can check the income tax return that he filed.
It is because of the pandemic that his income was very small, unlike during the pre-pandemic days, he said.
Meanwhile, former Negros Occidental board member Patrick Lacson, in behalf of Team @lbee, said they are not encouraging supporters of Benitez to go to the Comelec on Monday.
However, if there are those who insist on going they should observe minimum health protocols such as wearing face masks and shields, and social distancing.
He said it was the lawyer of the oppositors, during a press conference, who invited the public to witness the hearing.*