Leonardia camp not giving up on poll protest; Benitez unfazed

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez and former Bacolod City mayor Evelio Leonardia

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The camp of former Bacolod City mayor Evelio Leonardia is not giving up on the election protest filed against Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez and vowed that they will exhaust all available legal remedies “to ensure that justice will be done to the voters of the City.”

Leonardia issued the statement after the Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed the protest for “being improperly filed and for being insufficient in form and content,” based on the order dated Sept. 7, 2022 and signed by Comelec Second Division Presiding Commissioner Marlon Casquejo and Senior Member Commissioner Rey Bulay.

Benitez is unfazed.

“Wala na sila mayo himoon? We know for a fact nga tawhay man ang election, it was clean, there was no reported irregularity, majority of the voters have already spoken,” Benitez told reporters when asked for his reaction.

He further said, “let’s go to work, tapos na ang election, 2025 is just around the corner, we might as well focus on more important matters in getting done the services and commitment we have for the people.”

Both parties have yet to receive official copies of the Comelec decision which was reported in the national media.

“As such, we cannot comment yet on the reported decision, being unaware of the reasons allegedly made by the Second Division,” Dr. Chris Sorongon, spokesperson of Leonardia, said in a statement.

“Rest assured that our protest complied with all requirements of the Comelec and the law,” Sorongon added.

Sorongon assured that Leonardia’s counsel will face the issues squarely at the proper time and forum.

On May 20, Leonardia, through counsels Marcus Vaflor and Jireh Alimon, lodged a post-proclamation protest before the Comelec central office in Manila.

It called for a manual recount of all 450 clustered precincts, and for the poll body to declare a failure of elections because of alleged vote-buying and fake voters were allowed to cast their ballots.