Belmonte camp: SC junking vote-buying case shows complaint was political
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) decision to dismiss vote-buying complaints against incumbent Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and Vice Mayor Gian Sotto is another proof that the complaint was politically motivated, the city’s legal head said.
Lawyer Niño Casimiro said in a statement on Wednesday that they thank the SC for dismissing the complaints against Belmonte and the other officials, which were filed in connection to the 2019 midterm elections.
The complaints were filed by then PDP-Laban campaign manager Michael Defensor and secretary-general Edwin Rodriguez. Defensor would eventually challenge Belmonte for the mayoral post of Quezon City in the 2022 polls, which the latter won.
“We thank the Supreme Court for finally putting an end to this issue. At the onset, the allegations hurled against Mayor Joy Belmonte were fabricated, politically motivated, and merely a last-ditch effort to taint her landslide victory way back in 2019,” Casimiro said.
“Transparency, good governance, and adherence to the rule of law are the cornerstones of her leadership —- the primary reasons why Quezon City is where it is now,” he added.
READ: SC affirms dismissal of vote-buying case vs QC Mayor Belmonte, Vice Mayor Sotto, et al.
The vote-buying complaint was filed against the officials including television host and celebrity Willie Revillame, who was invited to endorse the candidates during a campaign rally on May 11, 2019, just two days before the elections.
According to the complainants, Revillame distributed money as prizes which constitutes vote buying. Belmonte, Sotto, and Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente admitted that they were present, but denied that they distributed the cash, saying they were unaware that the television host would give out prizes.
SC also considered the affidavits presented by Revillame’s camp that one of the people who received the prize was from Antipolo City in Rizal and could not vote for the candidates Revillame endorsed.
“All these affiants-recipients stated that Revillame did not ask them whether they were registered Quezon City voters. What mattered to Revillame was their attendance in the program. They were also unanimous in stating that Revillame, not respondents Belmonte, Sotto, and Delarmente, as the benevolent source of their gifts. That respondent were able to present the affidavits from the recipients of Revillame’s gifts starkly contrasts with petitioners’ lack of supporting evidence for their allegations,” it added.
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