June 24, 2024

The Commission on Elections dismissed the disqualification case against Benguet caretaker Rep. Eric Yap citing lack of evidence.
In a decision dated Jan. 17, the Comelec First Division said the evidence presented by petitioner, Atty. Jerry Marave, failed to substantiate the allegations questioning Yap’s residence and citizenship.
The First Division said Yap has adequately proven the fact of his residence in Loacan, Itogon, Benguet.
“Weighing on the evidence presented by both parties would readily reveal that those submitted by the petitioner pales in comparison to the evidence presented by the respondent to controvert the same,” the decision stated.
Aside from the “self-serving” affidavit of the petitioner and the notarized petition by residents of Loacan, Itogon to exclude Yap from the permanent list of voters, there is nothing on record that would support Marave’s contention that Yap failed to fulfill the one-year residency requirement to run for the lone district of Benguet, the First Division added.
“Although admissible in evidence, affidavits being self-serving must be received with caution. This is because the adverse party is not afforded any opportunity to test their veracity. Further, the affidavits proffered by the petitioner were effectively nullified by the affidavits of the witnesses of the respondent: they are in themselves more viable and credible, considering that not only did residents of Itogon, Benguet certify as to the bodily presence of the respondent in their locality, Barangay Chairman Andres Cuyan also certified that Yap is a resident of Loacan,” the decision stated.
Presiding Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon added in a separate opinion that at the outset, perusal of the pieces of evidence submitted by Marave show that he has utterly failed to overcome his burden of proof to show that Yap misrepresented his residency.
“Petitioner’s argument that respondent being a registered taxpayer of Quezon City is conclusively presumed to be a resident of Quezon City holds no water,” Guanzon said.
In December 2021, the Municipal Trial Court of Itogon dismissed the petition filed by concerned residents to exclude the name of Yap from the list of permanent voters in the municipality for lack of merit.
Yap lauded the Comelec ruling claiming the petition to disqualify him is part of “dirty tactics”. “In the meantime, marami pa tayong problema na dapat ayusin, magtrabaho muna tayo,” he said. – Ofelia C. Empian