The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal has junked the electoral protest filed against incumbent Northern Samar Rep. Paul Ruiz Daza by his May 2019 election rival Harlin Abayon.
The resolution penned by Supreme Court Justice Andres Reyes, Jr. dismissed Abayon’s protest for being lacking in form and substance.
All the other members of the nine-person tribunal concurred with the six-page decision, which was promulgated on Dec. 12, 2019. The decision was released on Jan. 15, 2020.
Provincial board of canvassers proclaimed protestee Daza as winner with a total overall margin of 59,685 votes.
Abayon sought to annul the results in five of the 14 municipalities of the district over alleged vote buying.
In these five municipalities alone, Daza had a total margin of 36,875 votes.
In the decision, “the Tribunal annuls the election results in the foregoing five municipalities, after deducting the protestee’s margin of 36,875 votes from his total overall margin of 59,685 votes, protestee will still emerge as winner by a margin of 22,810 votes.”
Moreover, the tribunal held that although Abayon claimed vote buying in the five municipalities, he identified witnesses in only two of them.
Chaired by Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, HRET includes Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Justice Jose Reyes Jr., all three from the SC, with six House members: Rep. Paulino Salvador Leachon (Oriental Mindoro), Rep. Vincent Garcia (Davao City), Rep. Lawrence Lemuel Fortun (Agusan del Norte), Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. (AKO-Bicol Party-List), Rep. Resurreccion Acop (Antipolo City) and Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte).
Leachon serves as head of the House contingent.
Daza, who was represented by lawyers Napoleon Galit and Maria Bemadette Sardillo, expressed gratitude to the HRET “for an early and expeditious decision of the case.”