LEYTE, Philippines – Less than a month after Leyte 4th District Representative Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez survived a disqualification case, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed another petition to disqualify the candidacy, this time of her sister Carmen Jean Torres Rama.
Rama was proclaimed winner by the Comelec after she topped the Leyte provincial board member race with 62,510 votes in the 4th District of Leyte.
According to the 11-page order by the Comelec Second Division dated Thursday, May 23, but made public only on Tuesday, May 28, the petitioner was Donato Medoza Jr, a resident of Kananga town, Leyte.
He said that Rama’s Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) must be cancelled because “she is not a resident of Kananga, Leyte contrary to what she stated in her CoC.
Mendoza claimed that the address Rama wrote in her CoC is a house that is not habitable and is still undergoing construction.
Rama’s residence, Mendoza Jr added, was at Ormoc City since her husband Vincent Rama is currently serving as city councilor.
The Comelec said, however, that Torres Rama “did not” make a false material representation in her CoC.
“We find that the evidence presented by the Torres-Rama is substantial enough to prove that her move from Ormoc City to Kananga is for an indefinite period of time and is of a permanent character,” the Comelec order stated.
The poll body said that Torres Rama not only acquired her own actual residence in Kananga, Leyte but her driver’s license also showed her address was in Kananga.
Witnesses have also testified that Torres Rama lives in Kananga.
Although the Comelec said that this contention “belies Mendoza’s assertion that Torres Rama has not been seen” in Kananga, the question remains whether she may establish a domicile apart from her husband’s domicile in Ormoc.
Addressing the question, the poll body has cited a premise that ruled in favor of the spouse’s abandonment of a matrimonial domicile in favor of a new domicile of choice.
Mendoza also relied on the fact that Torres Rama did not vote in the May 14, 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.
According to the Comelec order certified by Luie Tito Guia, it was “to prove that Torres-Rama did not meet the one-year residency requirement.”
The poll body, however, dismissed the argument as a patent non sequitur or a conclusion that doesn’t follow logically from the previous statement.
“Furthermore, the fact that Torres-Rama was only registered as a voter in Kananga less than a year before the elections is immaterial, since residency is not reckoned from the date of registration,” the Comelec said. – Rappler.com