Leonardia camp: Puentevella protest junked

THE camp of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia announced in a press release on Sunday that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division has dismissed the electoral protest filed by former mayor Monico Puentevella against Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

The press release, emailed to City Hall reporters along with the copy of an eight-page order dated August 18, quoted the Comelec resolution as stating that Puentevella’s protest is insufficient in form and content as it lacks the “required detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested precincts.”

The document was signed by Presiding Commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Commissioner Luie Tito Guia. For being a Negrense herself, Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon inhibited from the case on August 1.

Reacting to the information released by his rival’s camp, Puentevella said, “It ain’t over till it's over.”

“Let’s wait for Comelec Manila to issue the order. Why press release? Wala pa gani pre trial, junk na? (Why has the case been junked when a pre-trial has not been conducted yet?)” Puentevella said in a text message.

He added: “And who’s afraid to open the ballots? If they claim they won, why oppose the recounting? Haha. Anyway, whatever they claim, we’ll soon open the ballots. Truth shall prevail.”

Puentevella added that he’s now busy working with Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz. The former mayor, the president emeritus of the Philippine Weightlifting Association, was among the sports officials who joined Diaz in the Rio Olympics.

Moreover, the press release added that Comelec’s First Division order stated that Puentevella’s petition was “based merely on his own suspicions,” and that granting his demand to open the ballot boxes for manual recount would be “sanctioning fishing expeditions and baseless protests to prosper.”

In the May 9 elections, Leonardia garnered 120,231 votes while Puentevella got 97,993 votes, or a difference of 22,238 votes.

Puentevella filed an election protest before the Comelec’s Electoral Contest Adjudication Department, and sought a manual recount of the ballots cast.

The former claimed that he was deprived of personally seeing how the appreciation, tabulation, and computation of the ballots cast in the clustered precinct took place, and that the proclamation of the winners was made simply based on electronically transmitted election results. (MAP)

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