Aga Muhlach, Charlene can vote in Camarines SurBy Tetch Torres-Tupas
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals stood pat in its earlier ruling allowing actor Aga Muhlach and wife Charlene Gonzales to stay in the list of voters in Camarines Sur, thus, paving way for his congressional bid in the area.
In its resolution, the appeals court 12th division dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by private respondents who are residents of San Juan, Camarines Sur. Among those who questioned Muhlach’s residency include Crispin M. Imperial and Francisco Perico Dizon.
“Considering that the matters raised in the present motion have already been sufficiently passed upon by this Court and further finding no cogent reason with which to modify, much less reverse our assailed decision dated Feb. 13, 2013, private respondents’ motion for reconsideration is hereby denied,” the appeals court said.
Records show that the Muhlachs filed their application for registration as voters of San Jose, Camarines Sur on March 19, 2012. Then, on Sept. 28, 2012, the ERB approved their application for voter’s registration. On October 5, 2012, a petition for their exclusion was filed by some registered voters of San Jose saying they failed to comply with the residency requirement for a voter.
On Oct. 25, 2012 the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of San Jose reversed the decision of the ERB. The Muhlachs appealed the MCTC decision to the RTC which the latter denied on Dec. 17, 2012 and directed the ERB to exclude the Muhlachs to its list of voters.
Petitioners told the appeals court that the petition for their exclusion was premature and precipitately filed because the six-month period of residency before the May 13, 2013 election would begin on November 14, 2012.
The petition cited the case of Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, Jr., where the Court of Appeals on June 2, 2010 granted Jalosjos’ appeal reversing the decision of the Pagadian City RTC, which excluded him from the List of Voters on the ground that the reckoning six-month period before the election was yet to come when the petition for exclusion was precipitately and prematurely filed.
The petition pointed that both the MCTC and RTC admitted that the Muhlachs established their residency in San Jose as early as Feb. 17, 2012 but both courts disqualified them for failure to comply with the six-month requirement when they filed their registration on March 19, 2012.
The appeals court in its February 2013 ruling said “a citizen cannot be disenfranchised for the flimsiest of reasons. Only on the most serious grounds, and upon clear and convincing proof, may a citizen be deemed to have forfeited this precious heritage of freedom.”
The appeals court ordered the Election Registration Board (ERB) to reinstate the names of Muhlach and his wife in the list of voters of Precinct No. 10A, Barangay San Juan, San Jose, Camarines Sur and annotate them on the voters registration record.