Question of residence: DQ case filed vs Cayetanos
Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano and her husband, former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, are facing disqualification charges after they admitted to living in separate houses so they could run for the city’s two seats in the House of Representatives.
Leonides Buac Jr. of Barangay Signal Village has asked the Commission on Elections to disqualify the couple for what he claimed was a deception.
The Cayetanos cannot run separately in the city’s two congressional districts because the Family Code “obliges them to live together,” Buac said in a petition to cancel the certificates of candidacy filed by the couple.
Obliged to live together
“As a consequence of this obligation to live together, the chosen abode of the husband and wife is deemed to be their domicile or legal residence for all legal intents and purposes,” Buac said.
“Thus, one spouse cannot keep his or her own domicile, separate and independent from the matrimonial domicile.”
In a joint statement on Tuesday, however, the Cayetano couple did not refute Buac’s allegations but said they were prepared to answer point by point the issues raised in the disqualification cases.
They pointed out that their decision to run at the same time was a continuation of their years of service to residents of Taguig and Pateros, who they said “trust us that their interests would continue to be promoted and protected.”
“The disqualification cases, from the correct perspective, are irrelevant to our constituents’ desire. In May, we will submit to the people’s will,’’ the couple said.
“This is what truly matters. This is what only matters.”
In filing his certificate of candidacy for representative of Taguig’s first district, Alan Peter, a former senator and congressman, said he was residing on Paso Street at Barangay Bagumbayan.
Serendra condo unit
His wife, who is gunning to replace her sister-in-law, Rep. Pia Cayetano, for the second district, said she was living at a condominium unit at Two Serendra in Fort Bonifacio.
In running for public office, the residence requirement “should be read as legal residence or domicile, not any place where a party may have properties and may visit from time to time,” said Buac’s lawyer, Emilio Marañon III.
Hence, Buac said Alan Peter could not claim to be a resident of Bagumbayan since Lani’s decision to transfer to Fort Bonifacio “demonstrates the intention of the spouses to fix and move their residence.”
“[T]his could not be just her solitary decision, but it must have been a product of mutual agreement between her and [Alan Peter],” he said.
As for Lani, Marañon said she could not claim residence at Fort Bonifacio since this was only a “domicile of convenience.”
Also Lino and Pia’s residence
He noted that the same unit had been the declared residence of Lani’s brother-in-law Lino when he ran for a House seat in 2013.
It was also the declared residence of Pia when she ran for a congressional seat in 2016.
“If that condominium unit is the legitimate domicile of the three of them, how can three families habitually reside and maintain family life together in such a tiny space,” Marañon said.
Should they win the 2019 midterm elections, the proadministration Cayetanos will have a presence not only in their bailiwick Taguig but also in the Senate.
Apart from the couple, also running in the midterms are Lino, who’s aiming for the mayoral seat, and Pia, who’s trying to regain the Senate seat she had held for two consecutive terms.
In a statement, George Garcia, lawyer for the Cayetano couple, said the law and jurisprudence were on their side.
Alan Peter previously said that his and his wife’s decision to run at the same time for separate House seats was not unique. “[I]t’s completely legal and moral.”
He cited the case of Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III and his wife, Deputy Speaker Mylene Garcia-Albano, representative of Davao City.
Mylene won the 2010 elections, succeeding her brother Vincent, who reached the three-term limit.
At the time, the one holding the House seat in Isabela was Mylene’s father-in-law, Rodolfo Jr. The Albano couple both got their House positions after winning the 2013 and 2016 elections.
Another husband-wife tandem in the House are Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing and her husband, Horacio Suansing Jr. of Sultan Kudarat. —With a report from Dexter Cabalza
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