Former Muntinlupa mayor Jaime Fresnedi has withdrawn the election protest he filed against incumbent Mayor Aldrin San Pedro in connection with the May 11, 2010 elections.

In a manifestation filed with the First Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Fresnedi, through his counsel Atty. George Erwin Garcia, said he is withdrawing the election protest due to “financial constraints”.

“The undersigned (Garcia) has been instructed by the protestant (Fresnedi) to withdraw the instant election protest case due to financial constraints,” according to the manifestation signed by Garcia and Fresnedi.

In addition, Fresnedi asked the Comelec First Division to release his cash deposit totaling P1.08 million (P1,081,000) which he paid the Comelec in June and October last year to cover the recount.

San Pedro defeated Fresnedi in the May 2010 elections to win his second term. San Pedro garnered 108,091 votes against Fresnedi’s 76,808 votes.

Before filing to withdraw his election protest, Fresnedi asked the Comelec to defer the revision of ballots in his case which was supposed to start last May 9.

The revision of ballots was supposed to cover 66 election precincts in Muntinlupa or 20 percent of the protest proper.

In an order dated May 5, Presiding Commissioner Rene Sarmiento of the Comelec First Division junked Fresnedi’s request, ruling that “we do not find his reason for the deferment of the recount proceedings reasonable.”

Mayor San Pedro likewise opposed the deferment of the revision of ballots.

In his comment and opposition filed with the Comelec, Mayor San Pedro said the request to defer the recount “is nothing short of dilatory with no other purpose except to cause delay to the final resolution of the protest”.

By Tetch Torres INQUIRER.net

First Posted 17:06:00 04/25/2011

MANILA, Philippines—The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) allowed the Commission on Elections to (Comelec) to copy the compact flash (CF) cards used in the May 10, 2010 national and local elections for purposes of producing ballot images in case a recount is necessary in election protest.

In a two-page resolution, the high court sitting as PET granted the request of Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, the one who asked the authority to copy the CF cards.

Sarmiento made the request because the CF cards are now in the authority of PET in view of the election protest filed by defeated Vice-Presidential bet Mar Roxas against Vice-President Jejomar Binay. ”

The tribunal resolve to authorize the First Division Comelec to copy the CF cards used in the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections in 5 election protest cases for purposes of producing the ballot images if need be,” the high court said.

Aside from Roxas’ election protest, these pending election protests include Antonio Gatuslao vs. Agustin Bascon (Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental; Pancrasio Nisce vs. Hermenigildo Gualberto (San Fernando City, La Union; Jaime Fresnedi vs. Aldrin San Pedro (Muntinlupa City); Marissa Rongavilla vs. Artemio Simundac (Vice Mayoral, Muntinlupa City) and Ferdinand Dysico vs. Jose Felimon (San Jose City, Nueva Ecija).

But the PET reminded the Comelec to indicate in its request the areas involved in the poll protest as well as the Election Protest Case Numbers and Case titles.

The resolution was concurred in by Chief justice Renato Corona and Associate Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales, Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama, Jr., Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza and Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

Muntinlupa is celebrating its 16th cityhood anniversary tomorrow, March 1, with Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and other city officials leading the festivities.

“We are delighted to celebrate another milestone in Muntinlupa’s rich history,” Mayor San Pedro said.

The highlight of the celebration is the presentation of Muntinlupa’s own Hall of Justice complex in Tunasan, Muntinlupa.

The four-storey building will house Muntinlupa’s courts and other offices under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“The Hall of Justice will provide convenience to the people of Muntinlupa as they only need to go to one place to transact,” the mayor said.

In addition, Mayor San Pedro will also inaugurate the city’s Lying-in Center at the Southville Housing Project in NBP Reservation in Poblacion.

The center will be an additional facility at the housing project, which now has a day care center, high school and police station.

A free medical mission will also be held as part of the festivities.

Under the leadership of Mayor San Pedro, Muntinlupa moved forward with development and progress.

Last year, the Muntinlupa City government enacted Ordinance 10-109, which banned the use of plastic bags and Styrofoam materials for wet and dry goods by business establishments.

The pro-environment measure earned the praise of environment advocates and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

It was under the administration of Mayor San Pedro that Muntinlupa households began to have a 24-hour water service through the project of Maynilad Water Services Inc.

President Benigno Aquino Jr. recently inaugurated Maynilad’s state-of-the-art Putatan Water Treatment Plant in the city.

Mayor San Pedro also focused on providing basic services to residents in areas of education, health, social services and infrastructure.

Services at the city-run Ospital ng Muntinlupa and barangay health centers were improved.

The MMDA’s foot bridge in Alabang has eased traffic flow in the area. Muntinlupa became a highly urbanized city in 1995 when then President Fidel V. Ramos signed Republic Act 7926 converting the town into a city. (Muntinlupa Public Information Office)

From Manila Bulletin (Oct. 10, 2010)

MANILA, Philippines – A new housing project that will benefit rank-and-file Muntinlupa City government employees will rise in Barangay Putatan.

The housing project will be built through a partnership of Gawad Kalinga (GK) and the Muntinlupa City government.

Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and Executive Director Jose Luis Oquinena signed a memorandum of agreement for the housing project that will be constructed on a lot at the existing Medium Rise Housing Project compound in Putatan. (Jonathan Hicap)

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the graft and plunder case filed against Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and 30 other current and former officials of the Muntinlupa City government after the complainant failed to prove the charges with evidence in connection with the approval of 11 infrastructure projects in 2007.

In a 61-page decision, the Ombudsman dismissed the case filed by complainant Ariel Dolleton, former city government department head under former Muntinlupa mayor Jaime Fresnedi and a losing candidate for councilor in the May 2010 elections.

“In the light of the foregoing, this Office submits that the complainant [Dolleton] failed to entrench the existence of probable cause against the respondents with the required quantum of evidence,” according to the decision of the Ombudsman signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Lourdes Padre Juan, Acting Assistant Ombudsman Mary Susan Guillermo and Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez.

“We are very happy with the decision of the Ombudsman. Our evidences proved that we followed all the laws in the implementation of the infrastructure projects,” Mayor San Pedro said.

In his complaint, Dolleton alleged that there was irregularity in the approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod and Mayor San Pedro of supplemental budgets in 2007 for 11 infrastructure projects amounting to P238.07 million.

Dolleton further alleged that the 11 infrastructure projects were approved without sufficient funds available. He also said the respondents conspired to approve the projects by disregarding rules and regulations covering the approval and bidding process.

With these, Dolleton said the respondents violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184), Local Government Code (RA 7160), and the Act Defining and Penalizing Plunder (RA 7080).

Mayor San Pedro and other respondents submitted all documents including receipts, minutes of pre-bidding conference, abstract of bids, contracts and performance bonds to prove that there was no anomaly in the approval of the projects.

The projects approved included sidewalk improvement, streetlights, road repairs, bus landing terminal, water tank and asphalt overlay and concrete blocking implemented all over Muntinlupa.

In its decision, the Ombudsman said Dolleton “failed to tender proofs to controvert the contents and authenticity” of the documents submitted by the mayor and other respondents.

It upheld that, “Even the bidding process relative thereto appeared to be regular as evidenced by the orders of payment and official receipts.”

The Ombudsman pointed out that Dolleton “failed to sufficiently substantiate” that the projects were overpriced and that San Pedro and other respondents accumulated unlawful wealth.

“The undisputed completion of the contested projects showed that the government did not sustain undue injury I the furtherance thereof. Neither was there proof to establish the claim (by Dolleton) that the contracts covering the transactions in issue were disadvantageous to the government,” the Ombudsman’s decision read.

“Wherefore, premises considered, let the instant complaint against all the respondents be, as it is hereby, dismissed,” the Ombudsman ruled.

Besides Mayor San Pedro, other officials who were acquitted in the case were former councilors Icasiano Dela Rea, Melchor Teves, Allan Rey Camilon, Marita Calalang, Ma. Luisa Babaran-Echavez, Francis Ian Bagatsing, Marissa Cole-Rongavilla, Mamerto Sevilla Jr. and Rey Bulay.

Also cleared were incumbent Councilors Amy Patdu-Labios, Luvi Constantino, Vergel Ulanday, Robert Abas, and Joselito Arevalo.

The Ombudsman also acquitted City Administrator Roberto Bunyi, chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC); BAC members Vicente Navarro, Michael Racelis, Peter Salonga and Sonia Laureta; Budget Officer Avelino Orellana, former Muntinlupa City Treasurer Nelia Barlis, City Accountant Edwin Suitado and members of the BAC Technical Working Group and BAC Secretariat.

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