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Richard Gomez barred from running for office with finality

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has junked with finality the petition of actor-turned-politician Richard Gomez to let him run as a congressman in Ormoc, Leyte. In a 12-page resolution, the poll body en banc upheld a decision of the Comelec First Division disqualifying Gomez for lack of residency. The petition to disqualify Gomez was filed by Buenaventura Juntilla, a former barangay chairman in Ormoc, who said that the actor is not a bona fide resident of Ormoc. The actor lacks the one-year residence required by the law, he said. Juntilla, former chairman of Barangay Libertad, said Gomez resides in East Greenhills, San Juan and not in Can Adien, Ormoc as he claims on his certificate of candidacy. In earlier interviews, Gomez said he has been spending more time in Leyte — home province of his wife, Lucy Torres-Gomez — than in Manila since 2007. He accused his rival, Eufrocino Codilla, of having a hand in the disqualification case against him. But the en banc said that the barangay captain of Barangay Can Adien admitted that he should not have issued a certificate of clearance to Gomez, supposedly proving that the actor resides in the province.
For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV "As respondent spends most of his time in his Manila residence, one could not help but think that Manila is his domicile. Taking away business, profession, or any other reason compelling the respondent to stay at a place other than his domicile, the question stands, would he still stay there or would he find another place or domicile to stay in. This the respondent did not satisfactorily answer," it said in the resolution. Now that Gomez has been officially disqualified, he can name a substitute candidate, as long as he or she is a member of the same party and is not running for any other position. Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code allows for a substitute candidate in case an official candidate “dies, withdraws, or is disqualified for any cause" even until mid-day of election day. In a GMA News report, Gomez said his camp would accept the Comelec decision and would not file an appeal before the Supreme Court. According to Gomez's lawyers Alex Avisado and Dante Xenon Atienza, Gomez’s camp have accepted the Comelec decision even though they do not agree with it. Even as he expressed dismay over the Comelec decision, Gomez said his wife would be his substitute for the congressional race and would file her certificate of candidacy Wednesday. Lucy decided to become his substitute to end the political dynasty in Leyte even though she was not keen on entering politics, Gomez said. Lucy will go up against independent candidate Silverio Tagolino and Codillo of Lakas-Kampi-CMD. "We want to bring progress and change in this place. So, mabigat para kay Lucy tanggapin yung situation pero tatangapin niya yung hamon na siya yung tatakbong congresswoman," Gomez said. (Lucy found it difficult to accept the situation but she will accept the challenge of running for congresswoman.) His rival's lawyer, George Erwin Garcia, meanwhile, said Gomez could not file for a replacement because Gomez was never a legitimate candidate. "Bawal pong palitan si Mr. Richard Gomez bilang isang candidato sapagkta in the first place hindi po siya naging candidato," Garcia said. The Comelec likewise upheld a poll body division decision disqualifying LP Palawan gubernatorial bet Abraham Khalil Mitra from running in the May polls also because of residency issues. — RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV