THE House Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has junked the protest filed by former Manila councilor Benjamin Asilo against first district Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez who was able to secure 86,993 votes in last year’s elections, or 13,687 votes more compared to Asilo’s 73,306.
Asilo was a two-termer councilor and representative of the first district for three consecutive terms until Lopez, who chairs the House committee on Metro Manila development, was elected in 2016.
In a resolution on HRET Case No. 19-006 (EP) dated August 27, the nine-member Tribunal said it was “clear that protestant (Asilo) filed the instant protest on a mere gut feel or suspicion that the election results do not reflect the will of the electorate of the First District of Manila.”
“The instant Election Protest dated July 4, 2019, filed on July 8, 2019, is dismissed for being insufficient in form and substance, in accordance with Rule 23, paragraph 1 of the 2015 HRET Rules. Protestee’s Counter-Protest dated August 31, 2019, filed on September 2, 2019, is likewise dismissed as a consequence of the dismissal of the Election Protest,” the decision said.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen chairs the Tribunal composed of three Supreme Court justices and six members of the House.
The body, which is mandated by the Constitution to “be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of (its) Members,” said Asilo’s allegations “are not allegations of ultimate facts but of conclusions of facts and thus, it failed to show a valid cause of action.”
Lopez agreed with the Tribunal that Asilo’s move to do away with the testimonies of 112 witnesses supposedly as proof of the “traditional election irregularities, manipulations and anomalies” only shows that his causes of action are not lodged on factual basis but merely on “shocking discrepancy” between the number of voters.
“The protestant himself admitted that local pre-election surveys projected my win and that his contention was based on his disbelief that he lost ‘not by hundreds but by thousands of votes’,” Lopez said. “These alone are manifestations that his fake claims are of no match to the resounding support of our constituents.”