Another One Faces Same Fate
De Castro-Backed Liga ng mga Barangay
By Luis Panelo and Adan Silangan
Bulan, Sorsogon – A government tripartite board of election supervisors (BES) composed of the municipal officer of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG), the election supervisor of the COMELEC and the secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Bulan, disqualified Antonio “Toto” Vytiaco from holding the top post of Bulan’s association of barangay chairmen or the Liga ng mga Barangay (LnB) 6 days after he was elected president of the association and after having garnered 54 votes out of Bulan’s 63 barangays.
In a decision rendered by the said Board of Election Supervisors this week, Vytiaco was disqualified from holding the position of LnB president “for having been convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude” declaring, at the same time, Vytiaco’s vice president, Excel Zuñiga, as the new President of the association.
The decision to disqualify Vytiaco stemmed from a letter-complaint filed by known anti-De Castro barangay chairmen, Permo Evasco of San Isidro, Antonio Boncan of Gate and Rey Loilo of Beguin, questioning the qualification of Vytiaco to run for president of the Liga ng mga Barangay. The triumvirate’s complaint made reference to Vytiaco’s prior conviction by the Bulan Municipal Trial Court for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (B.P. 22) otherwise known as the “anti-bouncing checks” law.
The “anti-bouncing checks” law is a Marcos vintage law authored by former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza the purpose of which is to discourage the practice of putting in circulation worthless checks that may injure the viability of the banking system which, in turn, may injure the welfare of society and the public interest as well. Since its implementation in 1979, B.P. 22 has successfully curbed the harmful practice by unscrupulous individuals of absconding from their financial obligations by deceiving their victims to accept their bum checks and, once the check is accepted, the issuer eventually runs away from his debt completely.
Vytiaco, however, expressed optimism that he will prevail over this predicament when he elevates the matter to the Pambansang Liga ng mga Barangay, banking on what he believed as the “decriminalization” of the law (BP 22) in the past decisions rendered by the Supreme Court reclassifying its violation to mere “civil obligation” which, according to Vytiaco’s lawyer, lifts his client’s conviction from the genre of crimes involving moral turpitude.
In another development, Sangguniang Kabataan federation President-elect Annika Guelas faces the same disqualification with the issuance of an official certification by the National Statistics Office (NSO) of Guelas’ real date of birth to be October 23, 1989 debunking her claim in her certificate of candidacy which is October 31, 1989.
It will be recalled that the Board of Election Supervisors that took charge of the SK elections dismissed Fernan Briones Frutos’ petition (to disqualify Guelas on her “material misrepresentation” that she is below 18 years old on the day of the SK elections in October 29, 2007) “finding more weight” on Guelas’ xeroxed certificate of live birth than the original copy of her baptismal certificate.
When Fruto, however, filed his motion to reconsider the Board’s dismissal of his petition, he appended to his motion an NSO authenticated copy of Guelas’ certificate of live birth confirming Fruto’s allegations that Guelas “materially misrepresented” her age to be below 18 years old on the day of the SK elections. With such a development, Guelas is not only facing disqualification from her post as SK federation president, she likewise faces a criminal case for perjury since she lied about her real age when she accomplished her certificate of candidacy and declared the same under oath.
Sources close to the Frutos, however, deny ever contemplating filing criminal charges against Guelas. “I don’t want to expose her (Guelas) to that kind of public trial. I don’t believe that was Annika’s sole decision. She was just an unwitting tool in the deadly game of politics played by her father and his political benefactors”, Fruto said in the vernacular, “It is unfortunate that grown-ups dipped their fingers on what is concededly an affair restricted to the young. Instead of leading us by good example, these traditional politicians exposed their true color, dark and grim, by showing us how politics should NOT be practiced.”
Both Vytiaco and Guelas are publicly acknowledged De Castro bets in the recently concluded barangay elections. Ex-mayor Guillermo De Castro has reportedly campaigned for both Vytiaco and Guelas to be elected, not only as municipal federation prexies, he was also gearing them to be Provincial Liga ng mga Barangay and SK Federation presidents, respectively, who will sit as ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.