Exclusion cases appealed-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Monday, September 30, 2013
PETITIONERS asking for the delisting of allegedly questionable names in the voters list of Barangays Kabayanihan and Campo Filipino in the city are not giving up their fight.
This as they file their Motions for Reconsideration on "a problem the Commission on Elections had allegedly failed to address since its Election Registration Board hearing."
Punong barangay Michael Karl Flores said they appealed before the Regional Trial Court the ruling of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities to deny his petition to exclude some 33 people listed in the voters list due to alleged residency issues and inconsistencies in information placed in election registration forms.
Flores claimed the 33 persons in the list allegedly failed to appear before the Comelec ERB hearing while only 12 were already excluded after the MTCC found they placed contradicting information in their voter’s information forms.
Out of his initial petition to exclude 45 names in the voters list during the ERB hearing, only 12 names were excluded according to Comelec OIC-Election Officer Anita Navalta because "there is a clear discrepancy in their under oath declaration of information in their election registration forms."
Navalta said the excluded voters declared two different barangays as address in their election registration form which is not possible.
The Kabayanihan punong barangay said a multitude of voters registering one alleged questionable address have tried to get past the Comelec during the 2007 and 2010 barangay elections but were excluded during the ERB hearings.
"We will continue this fight because there is merit in our case. All this should not be based on procedures but on facts,” Flores maintained.
Meanwhile, Gloria Limpin Ramirez also said they filed an appeal last week on a similar exclusion case after the MTCC also in a decision last September 9 dismissed their petition to have identified registrants stricken out of the voters list in six different polling precincts in Barangay Campo Filipino.
Ramirez said it is impossible for 406 people to be residing in one address, No. 7 Roman Ayson Road, the reason behind the petition to have some 201 names stricken from the voters list.
She related legitimate residents in their barangay are questioning the influx of these registrants whom they only see in the barangay during the elections.
Sources of Sun.Star Baguio said a number of people are also listed in same addresses in some barangays in the city, particularly in the Central Business District, which include Kagitingan and Malcolm Square barangays, but do not reside there.
However, barangay residents are unable to file exclusion cases before the ERB due to lack of financial capability to pursue these, one source said.
The two petitioners also enjoined members of the City Council to look at this alleged questionable list of voters in their barangays after registrants numbering more than 100 to 400 are listed as living in a single address.
Meanwhile, Commission on Elections-Cordillera regional director Julius Torres said they have been purging the voters lists.
He said clearing the voter’s list is a continuous process conducted by the Election Registration Board as well as through voters list exclusion cases filed in courts.
The Comelec official stressed Civil Registry records will serve as basis for removing names of deceased individuals. Another way for removing deceased persons on the list of voters is for family members of the voter to validate and move for the removal of the deceased on the list.
“We cannot depend on the removal of the deceased person from the barangay as this is a barangay election. There were instances of voters declared dead by the barangay but are alive and still qualified to vote,” he said.
Another setback, the Comelec regional head said is that the commission has not yet activated their Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which he claims to be the most accurate and credible way to purge the voter’s list.
Through the AFIS, fingerprints are checked against other registrations made in Comelec to determine multiple registrants nationwide.
Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 3 Presiding Judge Leody Opolinto in the decision last September 9 cited Article XII Section 143 of the Omnibus Election Code as basis for the decision that each petition must only refer to one precinct.
Section 32 of Republic Act 8189 or the Common Rules Governing Judicial Proceedings in Inclusion, Exclusion and Correction of Names of Voters also states a petition must refer to only one precinct.
Opolinto in the court decision said “the petition failed to observe the forgoing requirement or limitation” and “cannot be given due course” as the petition failed to refer to one precinct only.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 01, 2013.