A Bacolod court Monday, October 4, upheld the decision of the city Election Registration Board (ERB) allowing former congressman Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez to transfer his voter’s residency from Victorias City to Bacolod City.
Bacolod Municipal Trial Court Presiding Judge Francisco Pando said Benitez satisfactorily met the minimum legal residency requirement to become a voter of Barangay Mandalagan in Bacolod City.
Benitez, former Negros Occidental 3rd District representative, plans to run for Bacolod mayor.
The court said that the Voter Registration Act of 1996 or RA 8189 states that applicants should have resided in the new place of residence for at least six months immediately preceding the election.
The ERB’s July 23 decision noted that Benitez would have lived in his new residence at the Bantug Family Compound in Mountain View Subdivision, for a year and 11 days by election day in 2022.
Despite claims by petitioners that their witnesses had not seen Benitez around the community, the presiding judge said that many photos of Benitez’s activities in his new home, with documented dates, were more believable.
The court also said that Benitez had obtained the titles to his new residence a few days before his April 22 application for voter’s transfer of residence.
The court also struck down petitioners’ claim that Benitez had a “spurious and irregular” community tax certificate, which showed he only paid P525 for his community tax certificate. This amount indicates an income of only P500,000 the preceding year.
Before Benitez ended this three-term stint in the House of Representatives in 2019, his Statement of Assets, Net Worth and Liabilities showed a net worth of more than P1 billion, making him one of the richest House members in 2018.
“There is no basis to claim that the taxes paid is deficient as no evidence was presented about his income in the year preceding,” the court said.
Benitez will face off with reelectionist Mayor Evelio Leonardia. Former councilor Caesar Distrito announced on Sunday, October 3, that he had accepted Benitez’s offer to be his running mate. – Rappler.com