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Codilla, Tagolino filed protests then ran away – Lucy’s lawyers

CONG. LUCY TORRES-GOMEZ is seen on the top photo in a serious discussion with Cong. Ben Evardone of E. Samar (left) and Cong. Roger Espina (right). At the back is Richard Gomez, Lucy's husband and chief of staff.

CONG. LUCY Torres-Gomez of the 4th district of Leyte has not been denied “eight times” nor has she made appeals to different agencies to stop the House of Representatives of Electoral Tribunal (HRET) on hearing the protests filed against her by defeated candidates Eufrocino “Winnie” Codilla Jr and Silverio Tagolino.
Albeit, Lucy’s lawyers said, Codilla and Tagolino filed nuisance protests against their client and then ran away.
This was the clarification made by lawyers of Lucy in a letter to columnist Neal Cruz of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, who in his column on Monday, May 23, said that Lucy had tried to stop the HRET from hearing the protests “eight times” by appealing to different agencies including the Supreme Court, all of which were reportedly denied. The columnist also asked if Lucy was already “forum shopping?”.
Cruz’s column was entitled “Loser wants to replace Lucy Torres in Leyte”. He also somewhat explained the circumstances on how a loser can replace a winner through the existing legal system, as what has happened to Lucena mayor Ruby Talaga.
Cruz is the same columnist, who in 2002, also wrote a column on the congressional controversy between Cong. Eufrocino Codilla Sr. and Rep. Victoria Locsin who was unseated a few months later. The circumstances were different though then because Codilla won by more than 15,000 votes over Locsin but was not the proclaimed winner.
“Nuisance suits”
Lucy’s lawyers Atty. Alex Avisado and Maria Christina Garcia said their client has not engaged in any forum shopping. The only appeal Lucy has made to the highest tribunal is a Petition for Certiorari, questioning the HRET’s refusal to dismiss the Election Protest of Codilla Jr “despite his failure to pay the necessary fees for the revision of ballots and actual recount”.
Codilla Jr. has filed a petition for a recount at the HRET, even as he came a poor second placer to Lucy by 24,701 votes in the last polls.
Another protestant, Tagolino, who only got more than 400 votes, has filed a Quo Warranto, a legal remedy which questions whether Lucy is the rightful occupant of the congressional seat.  Both have the same lawyers, with Tagolino telling this newspaper that it was Codilla Jr who bankrolled his protest.
It was also learned that Codilla Jr. and Tagolino have never even appeared in any of the hearings called by the HRET on their protests.
Lucy’s lawyers said that “We believe that these are actually nuisance suits since both Eufrocino Codilla Jr. and Silverio Tagolino failed and refused to appear in court and testify in support of their protests. They simply filed these nuisance suits and ran away, refusing to engage the incumbent Congresswoman in an intellectual trial.”
“Garbo sa Ormoc”
At one of these hearings, said Lucy, she presented evidence that even as she married Gomez, she never disowned Ormoc as her residence and that the city has not also disowned her, in fact honoring her several times as one of its pride in the annual “Garbo sa Ormoc” awards.
The evidences were two plaques of appreciation from no less than Eufrocino Codilla Sr., Winnie’s father and the congressman that Lucy succeeded.
Lucy’s lawyers added while they admit that Richard Gomez was disqualified to run for congress because of lack of residency requirements, his certificate of candidacy was never cancelled by Comelec. In fact, “this position was sustained by the COMELEC En Banc when it issued Resolution No. 8890 dated May 8, 2010, approving and upholding the substitution of Cong. Torres-Gomez as congressional candidate.”
A legal mind in the city also explained that this was the difference between the fate of Lucena mayor Ruby Talaga which Comelec recently removed with a decision that her substitution was not valid. In the case of the mayor, her substitution was only approved by Comelec on May 13, after the elections and not beforehand.
Lucy’s supporters, on the other hand, believe that there is a well-oiled hatchet job on the congresswoman that is on the roll now, to make it appear that she is on the losing side of the election protests against her.
Sources reaching this writer said that one of Lucy’s protestants is always seen visiting the office of one of the HRET members, a senior congressman, probably in an attempt to influence a favorable decision for himself.
“Somebody is worried”
Meanwhile, Vince Rama, Lucy’s brother-in-law commented that “somebody is worried about Lucy performing properly and (feels) if they cannot stop her from finishing her first term, it will really show the difference of how the two families have performed.”
Rama pointed out that people are beginning to sit up and notice that there is a buzz of construction projects almost anywhere in the 4th district, something which they did not see before. “Lucy’s detractors want to bother and distract her so that she cannot work hard for the district”, he opined.
He added that “In politics, it’s always that way. The other camp would always make it difficult for the other camp to perform so that come next election, they get leverage. With Lucy, they are worried. She’s visible, she’s hardworking and she is showing a lot of performance for such a short time.”
Rama continued to say that “in the process of an election protest, it is only normal for the protester to be aggressive. It is also a fact that when a new politician is elected, the non-winning candidate has to worry (especially if coming from an existing dynasty) because projects that are unfinished will be noticed and will have to be investigated”.
“That is exactly what is happening in the 4th district of Leyte”, Rama added, taking for example the repair works on the Bao Bridge in Kananga, Leyte. It should have been finished long ago, at the time of Lucy’s predecessor yet, but work has just started now. Lucy, it was learned, initiated a congressional inquiry into the bridge project which rattled a few concerned people, spurring them into action.
Lucy has indeed sprung a surprise on her detractors. Despite her hectic schedule juggling jobs between Congress and showbiz, she has already delivered a lot of her campaign promises to her constituents, something that her political foes never foresaw. They thought that she was a typical “señorita” and would not work hard.
Lucy, however, is showing all that she is more than just a beautiful face. She is intelligent and hardworking. In so short a time, she delivered projects to the 4th district and even finished the first schoolbuilding she got from Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in record time.
“Lucy and Richard, our family…. all we have in mind is service… the reason why the family decided to join politics was because there was a clamor for change”, he said. “Richard came home and saw what people were telling him was true, so he decided to run”, Rama added.
“During the campaign, we introduced a new kind of politics. People apparently liked it and we won. We wanted Ormoc and the 4th district to know that there is a different kind of politics …. one that is pure service and no personal interests at heart.”, Rama further said.
“As far as Congresswoman Lucy is concerned”, Rama added, “buhat na lang ang pasulti-on (let her deeds speak for her) for as long as God and the people of the 4th district are with her, together they can make good things happen.”

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