By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc junked a motion for reconsideration filed by former Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, following a poll protest filed after his loss to current Mayor Evelio Leonardia last May.
The ruling found the motion failed to present enough evidence warranting the reversal of the previous decision, along with affirming the protest was filed as an “attack on the automated election system.”
In August 2016, the Comelec first division dismissed Puentevella’s election protest, claiming the former mayor failed to show substantial evidence to prove electoral fraud in the conduct of the May 9 elections.
The decision was followed by a ruling from Judge Fernando Elumba of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City-Branch 42 in December of 2016, which stated, “Jurisdiction over actions for annulment of election results lies exclusively with the Commission on Elections en banc.”
During a press conference yesterday, legal counsel for the mayor, Atty. Joselito Bayatan, called Puentevella’s argument “very distorted.”
The public knows the winning margin is hard to reverse, he added.
“They can only call for the recount if the margin is very slim,” explained Bayatan. “If the margin is a landslide what is the use for a recount?”
Meanwhile, the mayor said, if Puentevella is questioning the integrity of the voting machines, why did he not question them when he was elected mayor in 2013.
“If he wins, [he] would comment the machines are good but, when he lost, [he] claimed that the machines are defective,” said Leonardia.
Bayatan speculated Puentevella will take his case to the Supreme Court, which he said would be “insulting the intelligence of the Comelec commissioners.”
Leonardia won the 2016 elections against Puentevella by 22,238 votes./WDJ