Thursday, 8 November 2012

LATEST: Brillantes: Aga Muhlach's registration case is with court, not Comelec

Brillantes ... 'wala kaming pakialam kay Aga'

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no role in the case of actor Aga Muhlach and his wife, former beauty queen Charlene Gonzeles, who both were de-listed as voters in Camarines Sur.

“Wala kaming pakialam kay Aga. Ang issue kay Aga is whether he can be a registered voter…  Comelec has nothing to do with whether you are a registered voter or not,” said Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Wednesday.

“The right to vote is judicial kaya sa municipal court siya,” he added.

Muhlach’s removal from the voters’ list effectively nullified his candidacy for congressman of the province’s fourth district in next year's elections. 

He was supposed to go against Wimpy Fuentebella, son of incumbent Rep. Arnulfo “Noli” Fuentebella.

The Municipal Circuit Trial Court of San Jose, Camarines Sur de-listed the couple in favor of the petition filed by the town’s Election Registration Board, which reversed its earlier decision to allow Muhlach to run.

According to the court ruling, Muhlach and his wife failed to establish their residency six months before the registration period, as required by Comelec Resolution 9149. 

The Constitution requires running district representatives to be registered voter on the district the candidates intends to represent.

Muhlach ... unregistered voter

Petition vs Aga
The couple registered on March 19, 2012, but a petitioner, Francisco Dizon, said he only saw the couple on February 17, 2012, when he was asked to accompany the couple to the house of his aunt, Fe Aluzan.

The court also ruled that Muhlach registered more than one year before the May 2013 elections, as required by Comelec Resolution 9149 for “any person who has not reached the required voting age or period of residence on the day of the registration but will possess such qualifications on or before the May 2013 elections".

Muhlach’s lawyer Romy Macalintal had earlier said that his client has bought a house in Camarines Sur and has continuously returned there as proof of their residency.

Macalintal also questioned the basis to de-list Muhlach based on the date the actor registered in Camarines Sur. 

Kapag ganyan ang magiging desisyon ng Comelec o ng isang korte, delikado ang mga nagpa-register noong before May 12, 2012. Maaari silang ma-delist at isa na rito ang dating Pangulong Erap (Joseph Estrada).”

Estrada has shifted his registration record to Manila from San Juan as preparation for his mayorial bid for the 2013 polls.

What Aga could do
For Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, what Muhlach could do is to file a petition for inclusion with the municipal court.

 “He should file a petition for inclusion. That’s important kasi they have to determine kung dapat ba siyang ‘andun. 
Magkakaroon siya ng opportunity to present evidence on why he should be included,” Jimenez said.

If Muhlach fails to establish his residency, Jimenez said: “Then he cannot run.” 

Jimenez noted that it is not enough to have a house in the area to establish residency. 

“It’s not the house. Ang general understanding ng residency is that it’s a place where you intend to return. Babalik at babalik ka doon,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brillantes said they would handle the citizenship case of Muhlach, who is accused of being a Spanish citizen.

The 1987 Constitution requires those running for a government position to be a “naturally born Filipino citizen".

In Muhlach fails to prove his residency to regain his voter’s license, Brillantes said the poll body will have to reject his congressional bid.

“If the court says he is not a registered voter, madali na naming ma-resolve ‘yan. Kasi [being a] registered voter is one of the qualifications to run,” Brillantes said. — KBK, GMA News

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