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DQ case versus Benguet lawmaker junked

The Commission on Election on Monday junked a petition to deny or cancel the Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) of Benguet caretaker Eric Go Yap.

Comelec’s First Division in its decision on the petition lodged by lawyer Jerry Marave, a former staff of Yap and a bet for Benguet congressman said, the evidence presented failed to adequately substantiate the allegations questioning Yap’s residence and citizenship.

“Upon review of the evidence on record, we hold that respondent has adequately proven the fact of his residence in Loacan, Itogon, Benguet.
Conversely, the evidence presented by petitioner failed to adequately substantiate the allegations contained in the petition.

Weighing on the evidence presented by both parties would readily reveal that those submitted by the petitioner pales in comparison to the evidence presented by the respondent to controvert the same,” the Comelec order read.

Yap said the Comelec’s ruling “is a testament that democracy is working in the country and dirty tactics employed by his political rivals will not work against him.” He added, “the Municipal Trial Court of Itogon has spoken, now the Comelec has spoken as well. Hindi tayo madidisqualify bilang kandidato.”

The Benguet caretaker congressman stressed, “this is a victory for democracy, not for me alone. Hayaan sana nila magsalita ang tao sa pamamagitan ng election, hindi sa pamamagitan ng mga dirty tactics at pagpapakalat ng mga maling balita. In the meantime, marami pa tayong problema na dapat ayusin, mag trabaho muna po tayo.”

The First Division added, “aside from the mere self-serving affidavit of Marave and the notarized petition by Residents of Loacan, Itogon to exclude Yap from the permanent list of voters, there is nothing on record that would support Marave’s contention that the solon failed to fulfill the one year residency requirement to run for Member of the House of Representatives.”

The poll body explained that “although admissible in evidence, affidavits being self-serving must be received with caution. This is because the adverse party is not afforded any opportunity to test their veracity. Further, the affidavits proffered by the petitioner were effectively nullified by the affidavits of the witnesses of the respondent: they are in themselves more viable and credible, considering that not only did residents of Itogon, Benguet certify as to the bodily presence of the respondent in their locality, barangay chairman Andres Cuyan also further certified that Yap is a resident of Barangay Loacan.”

“We also cannot help but wonder if this petition was, indeed, just a fishing expedition as the respondent has averred in his verified answer, considering that herein petitioner came before this Commission with apparently insufficient evidence. It bears emphasizing that allegations must be supported by evidence, and that the burden of proof rests with the one who alleges,” the Comelec ruling further stated.

Presiding Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon in her separate opinion said at the outset, a careful perusal of the submissions made by petitioner show that Marave has utterly failed to overcome his burden of proof to show that Yap indeed misrepresented his residency.

“Petitioner’s argument that respondent being a registered taxpayer of Quezon City is a conclusively presumed to be a resident of Quezon City holds no water,” Guanzon added.

In December last year, the Municipal Trial Court of Itogon junked a petition filed by concerned residents to exclude the name of Yap from the list of permanent voters in the municipality due to lack of merit.

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