PAMPANGA Governor Ed Panlilio appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc Wednesday regarding his loss on the electoral protest filed against him.

The Comelec second division recently proclaimed former provincial board member Lilia Pineda as the rightful governor of the province as she won 2,011 votes more than that of Panlilio.

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Pineda received 190,729 votes, while Panlilio only 188,718 votes.

In the motion for reconsideration filed by Panlilio, his lawyer Sixto Brillantes alleged that the second division, headed by presiding commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, deliberately came out with an 11,685-page decision.

Panlilio's camp said it would take several days for his lawyers to come up with a fairly reasonable and intelligent motion.

Brillantes, during the promulgation hearing, requested for an additional five days of review but Ferrer dismissed it immediately.

The motion presented three core issues that will be presented as an argument to the en banc.

First, Panlilio argued that the appreciation of the ballots containing the entry "Among" only was dismissed by the second division.

Second, there was an unexplained and unclear disregard of the vote results of the municipality of Mabalacat where protestee Among Ed Panlilio prevailed over protestant.

Lastly, Brillantes pointed out the "obviously cut and past ruling on misapprecaited ballots of Among Ed Panlilio as WBO (written by one). WBT (written by two) and marked, clearly designed to reduce protestee Among's votes, and to force a farce win for the protestant."

According to his motion for reconsideration, around 2,496 ballots with the name "Among" were rejected by the commission. These were ruled as "stray ballots" and were not credited to Panlilio.

“The voter may have failed to write the full registered nickname of candidate Panlilio, but there is no question and there is no doubt whatsoever that in writing the name ‘Among’ in the line for governor, the clear, manifest, evident and unequivocal intent of the said voter is to cast his vote for the one and only candidate whose CoC contains the name Among -- none other that Among Ed Panlilio, the protestee," argued Panlilio's lawyers.

During the 2007 gubernatorial elections, either of Panlilio's opponents Pineda and Mark Lapid have also not used the nickname "Among," they added.

The motion furthered that the second division chose to favor a moneyed candidate against financially-zero Panlilio.

The en banc was urged by Panlilio's camp to "not only to read, but to review, examine, inspect, scrutinize and appreciate and even re-appreciate the ballots rule upon in a cut-and-paste manner, in the 11,685 page decision of the division."

The explanation on the appreciation of the ballots was, according to Panlilio's lawyers, just cut and paste and therefore poses a question of fairness.

The supposed 2,011 votes winning margin of Pineda will be void if the arguments of the protestee will be considered by the en banc.

Richard Gomez

In a related development, actor Richard Gomez has been disqualified by the Comelec to seek a congressional seat in Ormoc City’s fourth district.

In an eight-page resolution, the Comelec First Division granted the petition of Buenaventura Juntilla to disallow the actor to run for a seat in the House of Representatives for lack of residency requirements.

“In an instant case, the respondent has not presented sufficient proof that would establish his ties to Ormoc City. The absence of such ties indicates his lack of intention to stay permanently in the said locality,” said the resolution.

It added: “Having no substantial ties to Ormoc City, it can hardly be expected from him to be cognizant and sensitive to the needs of the locality. This defeats the spirit of representation. This is the very evil which the residency requirement sought to avoid.”

The decision furthered that Gomez and his wife, Lucy Torres-Gomez, continue to practice their profession in Manila; that he is still doing business in Manila and he and his family continue to stay in their house in Colgate St., East Greenhills in Mandaluyong City.

Likewise, the First Division noted that the actor failed to prove that he already abandoned his Manila residence despite being a registered voter in Ormoc City.

Last December, Juntilla, a former barangay chairman in Ormoc, questioned the residency of Gomez in Ormoc.

The Local Government Code states that local candidates must be able to meet the one-year residency requirement in order to be qualified to run in the constituency he or she is running for.

This is Gomez’s second shot at a congressional seat, the first one was when the actor ran as a party-list representative for the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) party-list.

The organization was later nullified after it was found out that it is funded by the government.

In 2007, Gomez participated in the senatorial contest but did not win the race.

The actor is running under the Liberal Party (LP) in the coming May elections. (Kathrina Alvarez/FP/Sunnex)