Court junks Pena’s protest vs Garcia

Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo (Left) and Magdaleno Peña

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The electoral protest filed by defeated Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental mayoral bet Magdaleno Peña  against his niece, Mayor Ella  Garcia-Yulo was summarily  dismissed  by a regional trial court here for insufficiency in form and content.

In a 25-page decision furnished, Judge Edgar Tupas of the Regional Trial Court Branch 49 order said it is not enough for an election protest to merely allege a fraud, anomaly or irregularity in order that the pleading can be regarded as sufficient in form and content.

Tupas also said that Peña sought to substantiate his allegations of electoral fraud by including several sworn statements of his poll watchers and some voters who voted for him.

However, these are insufficient in form and content, Tupas said.

He further said that the election protest filed by Peña on May 23, 2019 does not contain any detailed specification or substantiation on how the New People’s Army (NPA) could threaten or coerce, in a widespread manner, all 164 established electoral precincts of the municipality of Moises Padilla.

He also said that Peña was not able to substantiate his claims that “voters were not allowed to vote for him on election day, and how anyone or anything can corrupt the automated voting system used in the municipality on election day despite the operative fact of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Control before, during, and after the elections in the municipality.”

The order also stated that even if one is to assume that all such registered voters voted for the protestant, “their votes will still be insufficient to overcome the protestee’s (Yulo) presumptive lead of 7,563 votes.”

“In conclusion, the election protest filed by Mr. Peña failed to convince the court to look for in the revision of ballots in any of the protested precincts, on a scale that could alter the outcome of the election,” the decision reads.

Tupas also ruled that Peña’s pending prayer for precautionary protection as well as his pending motion dated June 6, 2019 to hold in abeyance transfer of ballot boxes “are noted without action for being moot and academic.”

Tupas also ordered the clerk of court to return to the protestant his unused cash deposit amounting to P189,000.00.

Meanwhile, Yulo’s mandatory counterclaim for damages against Peña will be heard on Sept 23, 2019 at 10 a.m.

Yulo garnered 13, 056 votes (70.38%) while Peña, who was then seeking re-election, only gained 5,493 votes (29.61%) in the May 2019 national and local elections.