THE House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has upheld the landslide victory of Manila Rep. Manuel Luis T. Lopez in the May 13, 2019 congressional elections after it junked the baseless election protest by his lone opponent in the polls.
“This reelection is not for me but for the thousands of Manileños who have given me the mandate to represent their voices in the halls of Congress. Finally, this protest filed on mere suspicion, devoid of factual basis, and aimed at harassment has been junked,” Lopez, who chairs the House committee on Metro Manila development, said on Thursday.
“Since the beginning, we are confident that the will of the people and the choice of my constituents will emerge victorious against this obvious political maneuver. We thank the HRET for settling this matter once and for all,” the lawmaker added. “Our landslide win was clear and irrefutable that even our opponent failed to present his supposed ‘witnesses’.”
The decision of the HRET junked losing candidate Benjamin Asilo’s protest against Lopez who secured 86,993 votes in last year’s elections or 13,687 votes more compared to Asilo’s 73,306.
Asilo was a two-termer councilor and the representative of Manila for three consecutive terms until Lopez was first elected in 2016.
“While the protest did not hinder me from doing my mandate to serve our constituents, this decision has inspired me to do more and serve better. Huwag na po natin sayangin pa ang mahalagang oras sa pamumulitika.” Lopez stressed. “The people elected me to serve them, and that has been and will continue to be my main focus.”
In a resolution on HRET Case No. 19-006 (EP) dated August 27, 2020, the nine-member Tribunal said it was “clear that protestant (Asilo) filed the instant protest on a mere gut feel or suspicion that the election results do not reflect the will of the electorate of the First District of Manila.”
“The instant Election Protest dated July 4, 2019, filed on July 8, 2019, is dismissed for being insufficient in form and substance, in accordance with Rule 23, paragraph 1 of the 2015 HRET Rules. Protestee’s Counter-Protest dated August 31, 2019, filed on September 2, 2019, is likewise dismissed as a consequence of the dismissal of the Election Protest,” the decision said.
The Tribunal mandated by the Constitution to “be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of [its] Members” also said Asilo’s allegations “are not allegations of ultimate facts but of conclusions of facts and thus, it failed to show a valid cause of action.”
Lopez agreed with the Tribunal when it noted that the move of Asilo to do away with the testimonies of 112 witnesses supposedly as proof of the “traditional election irregularities, manipulations and anomalies” only shows that his causes of action are not lodged on factual basis but merely on “shocking discrepancy” between the number of voters.
“The protestant himself admitted that local pre-election surveys projected my win and that his contention was based on his disbelief that he lost ‘not by hundreds but by thousands of votes’,” Lopez pointed out. “These alone are manifestations that his fake claims are of no match to the resounding support of our constituents.”