Siasi RTC upholds poll win of Tongkil mayor PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 July 2014 11:40

Incumbent Mayor Whajid Indanan Sahidulla of Tongkil, Sulu was declared winner during the last May, 2013 elections held nationwide. This was the gist of the decision rendered by the Hon. Alsad H. Alpad, Jr. Presiding Judge of Branch 25, Regional Trial Court, Siasi, Sulu, which is holding court proceedings in the Hall of Justice, Capitol Site, Patikul, Sulu.

The decision of the Court dated June 26, 2014, was only received recently dispositive portion of which states:

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, Election Protest No. 9-25-13 for the mayoralty contest in the municipality of Tongkil, Sulu is dismissed. The validity of the grounds for these protests is not established by the evidence from the chosen twenty percent (20%) of the protested precincts. The protestee’s kilometric lead of 8676 votes over the protestant remains intact. The protestant, who is declared with finality disqualified to run for the contested office by the COMELEC has no cause of action to stage a valid protest.”

Record of the election protest, gleaned from the 7-page decision showed the following:

1. Protestant Abdulajid S. Alih, was earlier declared by the COMELEC First Division as not qualified to run for the position of Mayor of Tongkil for the reason that he is not a resident of Banguigui, Sulu as shown in the January 29, 2013 Resolution in SPA. Case No. 13-128 (DC) which in effect denied his Certificate of Candidacy. The ruling of the First Division was upheld and affirmed by the COMELEC en banc in its July 25, 2013 Resolution which attained its finality on January 22, 2014.

2. As a result of the ruling of the First Division of the Comelec, Protestee Sahidulla, through counsel, filed his first Motion to Dismiss based on his affirmative Defense embodied in the Answer which the trial court denied for the reason that the disqualification of Protestant Alih has not become final and considering that he filed a motion for reconsideration with the Comelec First Division.

3. Meantime, the trial court had ordered for the revision of ballots which covered ail the contested precincts as a result of which, the votes garnered by Mayor Sahidulla was affirmed in the total of 8690 votes while Protestant got only 14 votes.

4. Notwithstanding the disqualification of Protestant, the trial court justified the continuation of the proceedings particularly in the revision of all protested precincts andthus stated: “We need not here dilate the factual milieu of the disqualification case that was tried and decided bv the COMELEC against the Protestant. The Court’s necessary duty is to resolve the disturbing issue of the propriety of deciding the instant case on the expedient but incongruous ground of the disqualification of the Protestant alone without first determining who obtain the highest number of vote, which is the sole issue in an election protest.”

According to the decision, as a result of the revision of ballots and the physical recount of the ballots from the 17 protested clustered precincts, there is unhappily for him, NO VOTE recovered and FRAUD unveiled. “The overall election results remain as before. 8690 votes for Protestee and 14 votes for Protestant with a kilometric lead of 8676 votes in favor of the Protestee.”

Finally, the trial court made a very laudable conclusive findings: “The combined and unblemished results of the election reflected in the returns and revision of ballots alike, establish with certainty the defeat of the protestant and the victory of the protestee.”

When interviewed, Mayor Sahidulla expressed his gratitude to the Presiding Judge of the trial court for the very scholarly decision, and the court’s decision vindicated him and his family for the unfounded charges of fraud and terrorism hurled against him, as well as the other complaints lodged against him and his supporters arising from said elections. Accordingly, to the Mayor, all of these are political harassment coming from the political opponents of his family, it is very timely that the decision came during the celebration of the Holy month of Ramadan.

Mayor Whajid I. Sahidulla was assisted in the protest case by top lawyer Paulino R. Ersando as his lead Counsel and Atty. Lovell C. Abad, to whom, Mayor Sahidulla is very grateful.

With the decision, Mayor Sahidulla said he can now concentrate and focus in his duties for the continuation of his program of government to improve the lives of the people of Tongkil (Banguigui) Sulu. — Jemuel E. Mojica