FORMER Third District Representative Alfredo "Albee" Benitez is asking the Election Registration Board (ERB) to dismiss the opposition filed against his transfer of voter's registration from Victorias City to Bacolod City.
In a position paper submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Bacolod Thursday, July 22, 2021, Benitez, through his legal Counsel Francis Paul Baclay, also hopes for the approval of his transfer of voter's registration records to Bacolod City.
The opposition against Benitez was filed by Hector Yula, Teodoro Abao and Jonah Abao on July 13, 2021, on allegations that he is not a resident of Bacolod City.
In the position paper, Baclay argued that the oppositors have failed to file the instant opposition and their additional affidavits do not establish their allegations of non-residency of Benitez in Mountain View Subdivision, Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City.
"Contrary to the assertion by the oppositors in both their opposition and position paper, there is more than sufficient evidence to show that Benitez has established his domicile in Barangay Mandalagan before he filed his application for transfer of registration records to Bacolod City. As can be expected the oppositors tried to discredit the evidence adduced in favor of registrant by alleging that the affidavits he presented are self-serving. This is erroneous," Benitez's lawyer said.
The usufruct agreement and purchase of properties of Benitez show his intent to permanently reside in Bacolod City, Baclay said.
Benitez's sufficient interest in Bacolod City further proves his intent to reside therein, the lawyer also said.
He stated that on April 14, 2021, Benitez and Bantug Real Estate Development Corporation executed a Usufructuary Agreement.
"The oppositors harped so desperately on the fact that the business of Benitez is in Metro Manila and that he has not established a business in Bacolod. They failed to take into consideration, however, Benitez has been residing in Bacolod City for only a little over three months. Truly, it is reasonable to expect that registrant would be able to establish a multi-million peso business in that short span of time," Baclay said.
Baclay added the oppositors alleged that registrant is a prolific businessman. If such allegations were true, Benitez is not the one who "puts up businesses here and there without an assiduous determination of the appropriate business to set up, the capital structure if such business its feasibility, its sustainability, and its risk profile."
"If even a simple micro-enterprise takes some time to set up, how much more would a business that is worth the while of such a prolific businessman? Also, the fact that Benitez has business interests in Metro Manila, yet, he chose to transfer his registration here in Bacolod and chose to establish a residence herein further proves Benitez's intent to make Bacolod his permanent residence," the lawyer further said.
On the confluence of pieces of evidence, it leads to the conclusion that Benitez has abandoned Victorias City as his domicile, Baclay said.
"Benitez's application for transfer of his voter registration records is one indication of his intention to abandon Victorias City as his domicile. Another indication of his intent to abandon Victorias City as his domicile are his representations to government agencies and in public documents," he said.
The absence of utility bills in the name of Benitez does not prove non-residence, the lawyer also said.
"There is no proof also that the Community Tax Certificate of Benitez was falsified and the place of voter registration of Benitez's wife is immaterial," Baclay further said.