Comelec affirms dismissal of Bing’s petition vs. Albee 

Former mayor Evelio Leonardia and Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez  (l-r) during the BacoLaodiat Festival in February.* John Stephen Sy photo  

The Commission on Elections En Banc has upheld its Second Division’s ruling dismissing a petition filed by former Bacolod mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia for a vote recount and the nullification of the proclamation of Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez as mayor of Bacolod.

The Comelec En Banc in a resolution promulgated April 23 and released to the media Friday, May 24, dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by Leonardia on Sept. 19, 2022 and affirmed the Second Division’s Order dated Sept. 7, 2022. 

“Aside from the fact that the petition is insufficient in form and content, the protestant failed to adduce evidence and to justify the need to open and revise all ballots of the 450 clustered precincts. For this reason, the eagerness of protestant to seek revision of all 450 ballots of the clustered precincts in Bacolod City is misplaced,” the Comelec En Banc ruled. 

“Unquestionably, the grounds recited in the protest will not require a revision of the ballots. Allegations of massive vote-buying before and after the casting and counting of votes, threat or intimidation, and fake voters are averments in an election protest that need to be proven, not merely alleged,” it added. 

Benitez won with 171,893 votes in the May 9, 2022, polls, while Leonardia garnered 107,447 votes. 

The Commission En Banc said a cursory reading of the allegations in both the petition and the motion for reconsideration would reveal that “they are too broad, too general and highly speculative”.  Leonardia is assailing the results in all the clustered precincts that functioned during the elections in Bacolod City without attaching any single affidavit or object evidence, it said. 

Barangay Captain Caesar Distrito, spokesman of Benitez, said on Friday that all the legal actions filed by the camp of Leonardia against Benitez have either been dismissed or denied, and ruled in favor of the latter. 

“The decision of the COMELEC is a clear manifestation that their election protests were purely harassment and have no legal and factual basis at all. It was purely made to save faces” in the aftermath of Leonardia’s defeat, Distrito said. 

“The denial of the MR will now put to rest any doubts to the victory of Mayor Albee Benitez that were cast by the Leonardia camp. Mayor Albee won clearly and convincingly with a margin of 64,446 votes. The people had spoken, and so has the COMELEC,” Distrito said.* 

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