First Posted 22:24:00 12/03/2010
NAVAL, Biliran – Two remaining election protest cases for mayoralty position filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16 here were summarily dismissed by the Presiding Judge Bienvinido M. Montalla due to alleged absence of substantial evidence.
EPC Case No. 03-2010, filed by Caridad Atok-Ang against Gerardo E. Espina, Sr. for the mayor’s position of Kawayan was dismissed last November 22, while EPC Case No. 02-2010, filed by Dr. Lourna M. Nierras against Dominador O. Agajan for the mayor’s position of Almeria was dismissed the following day.
Supporters of the protestants have cried foul over these decisions of Judge Montalla.
“Sa kadaghan sa ebidensiya ug mga witnesses nga gi-presentar, no substantial evidence lang gihapon? (Despite the numerous evidence and witnesses presented, still no substantial evidence?),” a supporter grumbled.
The evidence submitted to the court for both cases were essentially the same as those submitted for the hearings of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms that were aired nationwide last May and June. Based on the committee report, the chairperson, then Rep. Teddy Boy L. Locsin commented that Biliran has the most comprehensive set of evidence of election fraud submitted during the hearings.
The said evidence were also submitted to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) for their case study on the May 10, 2010 elections in the province, which led to the CenPEG conclusion that, indeed, there was election fraud in Biliran during the May polls.
Suspicions about the forthcoming decision to dismiss the two election protests were aroused among the Biliranons after the spokesperson of the Espinas, Jerome T. Arcenal, had talked about the dismissal of these protests in his radio program more than a month before the decision came out.
One supporter and court observer said that during one of the hearings, the judge himself debated with the prosecuting counsel instead of the defense counsel.
Ang and Nierras are planning to appeal the RTC decision with the higher courts.
Similar protests filed by losing re-electionist Mayor Floresca “Bulak” Delante of Caibiran, mayoralty candidate Timmy Ticoy of Cabucgayan, and Roger Yu of Culaba, respectively, were earlier dismissed for technical reasons.