Benaldo unfazed over disqualification case

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Monday, May 24, 2010

CAGAYAN de Oro first district congressman-elect Jose Benjamin Benaldo remains unfazed over moves to have his proclamation nullified because of residency questions.

"I don't think I have to answer all these petitions seeking my disqualification," said Benaldo, a former councilor who defeated his closest rival only by over a thousand votes. "But since they've filed the cases anyway, bring it on."

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The lawyers of defeated congressional candidate Rainer Joaquin "Kikang" Uy filed a motion Friday to intervene with the disqualification charges filed by supporters of another defeated congressional bet, Lourder "Candy" Darimbag.

Evangeline Carrasco, one of Uy's legal counsels, said they decided to intervene in Darimbang's petition because their candidate is next to Benaldo in terms of number of votes-making him the presumptive recipient of any adverse decision against the congressman-elect.

The intervention meant that Uy's lawyers will be arguing the case with Darimbang's legal team.

Carrasco, however, said there was no deliberate attempt to gang-up on Benaldo.

"We're the party in interest here. An intervention from us would shield the case from possible questions on the petitioners' legal personality to pursue the case," she said, noting that Darimbang only ranked third in terms of votes gathered and could not possibly benefit from Benaldo's disqualification.

Two weeks before the May 10 elections, Darimbang, through supporters Cyril Francis Casiño and Nilda Dela Victoria, alleged before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that the then candidate failed to meet residency requirements in the first congressional district.

Benaldo ran and lost in the second district in the 2007 elections before transferring his residency in the other district.

Darimbang's camp, however, said they have proof to show that Benaldo lacked the one-year residency requirements.

Several travel documents released to the media purportedly showed that Benaldo travelled extensive to other countries one year before the elections.

Uy's camp, meanwhile, claimed to have more ammunition against the congressman-elect.

"Benaldo's voter's registration would show show that he lacked residency requirements. Also, the house he claimed as his residence is owned by a relative. And he's not even staying there for all intents and purposes," said Carrasco.

Benaldo declined to enumerate his defense in all these allegations, only saying he would face them when the case is heard in Comelec Manila.

Earlier, he said his being a three-term City Council member would already suffice the requirements of the law for one to obtain residency.

"I've served for nine years the then undivided Cagayan de Oro, so who can claim that I'm not familiar with the concerns and problems in any of the district in this city," he said.

Benaldo unfazed over disqualification case

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