VICTORIAS City -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) second division has dismissed the petition against Nationalist People's Coalition United Negros Alliance third district congressional candidate Alfredo "Albee" Benitez.
Comelec Presiding Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer, Commissioner Lucenito N. Tagle and Commissioner Elias R. Yusoph ordered dismissed the petition to deny due course or cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Benitez filed by Victorias Mayoralty candidate Benito C. Montinola, Jr. for lack of merit.
The Comelec states that while the respondent Benitez has been travelling abroad in recent years, the proof he presented convinces that he has his domicile in Negros Occidental, and the fact that the respondents indicated in his application to renew his passport a home or mailing address located in Makati City does not change his domicile.
"Domicile" has evolved into a technical word so that an individual may live in one place but be domiciled in another.
The order further states that the fact that Victorias is Albee's mother's hometown, where the family's ancestral home is also situated, and that it is the same place where he and his family stayed before moving to and purchasing the adjoining property, strongly indicates that Benitez has held ties in this city.
This came after the complainant claimed that Benitez misrepresented himself as having been a resident of the district for more than 42 years when he filed his COC for the position of congressman of the third district of Negros Occidental.
The respondent was born in Palo Alto, California, USA, and renounced his American citizenship only prior to his filing of his COC.
Moreover, the petitioner insists that the respondent's renunciation does not conform to formalities set by laws.
Benitez admitted being born in the United States, but explained that he was born to Filipino parents who were also residents of the Philippines, and that he is a dual citizen - Filipino by blood and American by place of birth.
“I am happy with the Comelec’s desison of dismissing the case. There is no stopping him for running in the district. I’m destined to be the congressman of the district, he said.
“I appeal for people’s support in the third district. I am a blessed person and that I want to share it to the people in the district,” he stressed.
“The case filed against me is considered a political harassment. It should be the Comelec to sanctify the law. The case filed intends to mock the election against him,” he explained.
He is also optimistic to win the election. “For the past several years, Talisay represented the Congress and it’s high time that Victorias will earn the privilege,” he added.
Victorias has a total of 50,000 registered voters.
Benitez, along with his wife and children, appeared before the 7,000 estimate crowd during the rally in Victorias Friday night.
Also present were UNA standard bearer Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and running mate sixth district Representative Genaro “Lim-ao” Alvarez.
The rally wound up with fireworks and confetti.