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‘Vote-buying’ yarn versus Lopez, junked

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THE Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has junked a case filed against Manila mayoralty bet Alex Lopez in connection with the 2022 elections.

In a resolution by the Comelec First Division dated January 5, 2023, but released to the media only recently, it noted that the evidence submitted by the complainant, ‘Asenso Manileño Movement,’ is not enough to prove that Lopez’s group distributed money to convince or influence voters in their favor.

The poll body said that photos and videos submitted by Asenso Manileño, a party by Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, do not show any of the respondents committing such an act.

It noted that guilt cannot be established based merely on screenshots of Facebook posts.

“We reiterate that petitioner herein did not adduce any evidence. Its bare statement without any evidence cannot suffice to establish Respondents’ violation of Section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code. Basic is the rule that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to proof,” part of the Comelec resolution said.

The case was filed by Asenso Manileño party on April 29, 2022 that candidate lawyer Alex Lopez and several members of his slate doled out money to people during an event organized by the Department of Social welfare and Development in Tondo Manila last March 30, 2022.

The complainant claimed that the group of Lopez turned the event into their own political campaign rally, adding that the money was sourced from the Assistance for Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).

The group of Lopez, the party claimed, has no reason to appear in the event during the distribution of cash aid as they were not incumbent public officials.

It will be recalled that in October 2022, the Comelec Second Division likewise dismissed an election protest filed by Lopez against Lacuna also in connection with the 2022 national and local elections.

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