Court junks poll protest vs Loot
Gregg M. Rubio (The Freeman) - April 5, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Regional Trial Court (RTC Branch 61) in Bogo City has dismissed the election protest filed by former Daanbantayan mayor Augusto Corro against incumbent Mayor Vicente Loot.

RTC Branch 61 Assisting Judge Ricky Jones Macabaya, in his order dated March 31, cited Corro’s failure to furnish a copy of the petition to Loot in violation of Section 4, Rule 2 of the 2010 Rules of Procedure in Election Contest Before the Courts Involving Elective Municipal Officials.

In filing his counter-protest, Loot asked the court to dismiss the election protest filed by Corro, citing the Supreme Court rules of procedure which require that the protestee be furnished a copy of the election protest before it is filed in court.

Macabaya said the rule provides that the failure to make proper service shall cause the pleading or paper to be considered as not filed.

“In view of the foregoing, the court is constrained to dismiss the instant petition for being a mere scrap of paper,” read the order.

Corro filed an electoral protest against Loot, who defeated him by just seven votes in the May 9, 2016 elections.

Loot said the court’s decision was premised on Corro’s failure “to comply with a very elementary procedure, no lawyer would ever miss unless it was intentional.”

“I can only guess that perhaps the protest was a pabuhi sa dugo sa mga supporters but the protestant actually doesn’t want the ballot boxes opened kay mahibaw-an unya nga mas dako diay ang labaw nako,” Loot said.

He further said that talks of counting machine manipulation during election are persistent and have not died down.

Loot has a pending counter-protest of "prevalent electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities and rampant harassment, threats, vote-buying and terrorism" allegedly perpetrated by Corro.

Loot also questioned the authority of lawyer Liza Corro, sister of the former mayor, to represent her brother in the case because she is a government official being the dean, and now newly appointed chancellor of the University of the Philippines Cebu.

On her part, Corro said the dismissal is baseless, saying there is no law or rule which requires that the protestee should be given a copy of the protest before filing it in court.

She said the protestee is notified of the protest upon the issuance by the court of summons to Loot, to which a copy of the protest is attached as provided for under the rules.

Corro is set to file an appeal before the RTC.

“I think it would be best for the protest to proceed in order for Loot to prove that he really won the election fair and square, especially that he was accused as a drug lord protector by no less than the President of the Republic, President Duterte,” Corro said. (FREEMAN)

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