By Joey Natividad
SAN JOSE, Camarines Sur (BicolToday.com/20-April-2012) – The powerhouse legal team seeking to disqualify showbiz celebrities Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales from the voters list in this town, demanded the Comelec Election Registration Board (ERB) to issue subpoenas for duces tecum and ad testitandum for the Muhlach couple, the former to produce documents related to the issue at hand and the latter for the Muhlachs to testify in persons.
Manila-based election lawyer, Attorney Roque Bello, said Aga Muhlach never voted before. The actor’s name was not found among the voters master list at the Comelec main office, said Attorney Bello who claimed he was the lawyer who opposed actor Richard Gomez’s candidacy in Bulacan few years back.
Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales and their lawyers did not show up in Thursday’s hearing, a move showing they had “waived their rights to appear”, earlier manifested to San Jose Comelec election officer Imelda Añonuevo during the first hearing. In strange coincidence, two members of the ERB, Dra. Lourdes Paaño and Alex Malate, were also absent from the scheduled disqualification hearing, forcing election officer Añonuevo, as ERB chair, to postpone the hearing for a later date.
Feeling frustrated, the legal powerhouse team composed by Attorneys Juan Luis Carpio and Cristina Castañeda, beefed up by election lawyer Roque Bello, closed in on ERB chair Añonuevo by asking probing questions and provocative statements, which the beleaguered Comelec officer found hard to parry, and careful enough not to incriminate herself. Despite the ERB was not formed by the absence of quorum, the hearing progressed “off-the-record” with the three lawyers closing in on the ERB chair who found herself at the “hotseat”.
During the “unofficial” deliberation at the Comelec office, Lawyer Cantañeda questioned the minutes of the previous meeting as “sanitized” and demanded for an official stenographer and recorder to record all proceedings. Lawyer Bello demanded ERB to subpoena the Muhlach couples to appear in persons, and he claimed the legal counsels have the right to cross-examine the applicants and witnesses. Lawyer Carpio submitted a motion for the ERB chair to inhibit herself from the hearing based on alleged “bias partisanship and ignorance of the law”, a legal motion well-prepared in advance by Carpio in anticipation of such perceived situation may arise.
“Are the Muhlachs being dictated by politicians,” Lawyer Bello voiced out his question, when he made known his intention to cross-examine Aga Muhlach on why he filed application as voter in this town where he has no residence.
Both the legal team and the beleaguered ERB chair tackled on issues, such as, if the case is on summary proceedings or not, and the witnesses and the applicants shall be cross-examined or not, and if the voter-applicants Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales-Muhlach shall appear in person or not.
In a related development, Bicoltoday.com was informed by the Muhlach group Thursday morning that the showbiz couple are not in Camarines Sur that day, and that the actor has a shooting schedule in Palawan for PinoyExplorer, and Charlene has shooting commitment for the Buzz. The aide of Aga refused to be named.
After the “unofficial, off-the-record” deliberation at the Comelec office, the leader among the 14 other petitioners, Maymay Pacamarra, released to the media photocopies of a certification issued by the town assessor’s office attesting that Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales-Muhlach do not have any piece of real property declared under their names for taxation purposes in San Jose town.
Pacamarra said the assessor’s certification will show that the Muhlach couple have no business interests nor other interests to look into, in this town and they have no credible reasons to say they are residents of the town. BicolToday.com
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