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Loren to Comelec: I’m an ‘actual resident’ who traces roots in Antique

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Senator Loren Legarda has formally answered a petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking to disqualify her candidacy for representative of Antique province, arguing that she meets the residency rule under the Constitution.

She also asked the Comelec to dismiss the petition filed by her rival, former Antique Gov. Exequiel Javier, whose family dominates politics in the province located in Western Visayas.

“Respondent is an actual resident of Mag-aba, Pandan, province of Antique, since January 2018, and tracing her roots to the Province of Antique,” read part of her filing, which noted that her grandfather Ariston Gella was the first pharmacist of the province and a delegate to the Malolos Convention.

Legarda also pointed out that as a senator and chair of the Senate finance committee, she allocated funds to provide financial assistance to Antique residents, and spearheaded several projects to preserve and promote the environment, tourism, and rich culture of the province.

In his petition, Javier said Legarda came “out of nowhere” to claim residency in Antique, arguing she only leased a beach house from a person who is “neither the owner nor the authorized representative to lease” the property.

“The beach house was never intended to be her residence since up to now, Legarda is still a resident of Malabon City, and has never frequented herself in the province of Antique,” it said.

The petition said Legarda was merely renting the house at P5,000 monthly for 5 years beginning last January.

Legarda admitted in her answer that she leased a beach house in Pandan, Antique. But she said ownership of property was not a qualification required of local electoral candidates.

“The foregoing evidence unquestionably demonstrate Respondent Legarda’s intention to reside in a fixed place ie Antique Province, her physical or personal presence thereat, and conduct indicative of her intention to reside permanently in said place,” she said.