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Comelec allows Imelda Papin to run for Congress in Bulacan

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has allowed singer Imelda Papin to run for Congress in Bulacan province by reversing the ruling of the Second Division. Papin was emotional when she received the decision of the en banc, saying she, her family and supporters prayed hard for it. She believes she finally got the justice she deserved. “Nananalangin po kami lagi. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa Panginoon dahil dininig po niya ang aming panalangin. Maraming salamat sa Comelec na binigyan po ng agarang desisyon at ng katarungan ang isang San Joseno,” she said. The en banc, in its April 22 resolution, granted the motion for reconsideration filed by Papin as it found no deliberate attempt on her part to misrepresent her residence in her certificate of candidacy. The poll body also gave credence to the certifications from a barangay chairman and affidavits of at least 30 witnesses to prove that she is a resident of San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan. “While the aforementioned documents may vary on dates… it cannot be said that the respondent has not developed any ties to said city and that she is a resident thereof within the requirement provided for by the law,” it said. Even Commissioner Lucenito Tagle of the Second Division changed his earlier decision and voted to grant Papin’s motion for reconsideration “after taking a second look at the records of this case.” The Second Division, in its ruling dated January 31, found Papin ineligible to run for public office over questions on her residency in the district she seeks to represent. “Respondent’s Certificate of Candidacy must be cancelled for making false material representation relating to her residence and for claiming that she is eligible to run for public office,” said the Second Division in its resolution, which Papin received on February 5. “There are not enough proof to show she actually resided in any of the said properties within the period required by law. Respondent may own and lease several properties anywhere she chooses. However, such act alone will not suffice to make her resident of said place for election purposes, in the absence of any overt acts indicative of her intention to consider it as her permanent abode or residence,” it added. It also said that while the decision of the electoral registration board to approve her transfer of registration record can be honored, it does not automatically qualify her as a candidate for congresswoman. “It does not involve the residency requirement for eligibility to run for Congresswoman, which requires a residency in the locality for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the election,” said the Second Division. Papin, in her motion for reconsideration filed February 11, said the Second Division failed to appreciate the evidence she presented such as pictures of the blessing of her house in the city; certifications that her brother, Jose, and relatives are residents of the city; affidavit of her neighbors; receipts that she paid her taxes and bills in San Jose del Monte. She even filed a motion for ocular inspection of her house to belie allegations that she is residing in a “commercial establishment not intended for human habitation.” — Amita Legaspi/KBK, GMA News