MANILA, Philippines - The issue of who between Regina Ongsiako Reyes and Lord Allan Jay Velasco will represent the province and lone legislative district of Marinduque has been settled.
The House of Representatives formally recognized Reyes yesterday as the duly elected representative of the province during its roll call of members.
Velasco was not invited to the opening session of the House in the morning and to the afternoon’s joint session. He was not included in the roll call.
Reyes was proclaimed on May 18, five days after the elections, beating Velasco by 4,000 votes.
However, on June 25, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualifying the proclaimed winner for allegedly being an American citizen, which she has denied.
Last Tuesday, five days before the convening of Congress and more than two months after the May 13 elections, the Comelec annulled Reyes’ proclamation and proclaimed Velasco in her place.
That same day, Reyes appealed the SC decision upholding her disqualification.
She said the Comelec, in declaring her not qualified to run, relied on an article published on the Internet claiming she is an American citizen, and on photocopies of supposed immigration documents showing that she traveled using an American passport.
She said the poll body violated her right to due process by accepting such kind of evidence and by denying her the opportunity to present her side.
Citing the dissent of Justice Arturo Brion and three other justices to the majority decision upholding her disqualification, Reyes said the evidence was “double hearsay” and should not have been admitted.
Velasco’s non-recognition by the House in its roster of members means that he would now have to pursue his case against Reyes before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), even if the SC sticks to its decision disqualifying her.
Velasco has filed an election protest against Reyes with the HRET shortly after the latter was proclaimed on May 18.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II earlier said the Marinduque lawmaker’s disqualification should be resolved by the HRET, and not by the Comelec or SC.
While Velasco was not recognized as a member of the House, his mother, Lorna, was among those included in the roster of members. She represents the party-list group Ang Mata’y Alagaan.
Velasco skips SONA
Velasco decided to skip President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address in Congress yesterday, out of respect for the House’s decision to recognize Reyes as the representative of Marinduque.
“My absence in the opening session does not mean that I am giving up on my battle for the truth and what’s right, but instead, my absence shows my respect for the House and my colleagues and to the sanctity of the proceedings in the election for its speaker and other officers,” Velasco explained.
He said he chose not to attend the event to avoid any untoward incident in the proceedings, as he stressed that the House’s recognition of Reyes in its roll of members was just temporary.
Velasco said Reyes was temporarily recognized by the House’s secretary general because of her proclamation last May 18, which he said was annulled by the Comelec last July 9.
He expressed belief that any and all acts done by Reyes are null and void as he noted that she has no more legal basis to perform the functions of a representative.
Velasco said he already wrote Belmonte for him to be recognized as the duly elected representative of Marinduque. – With Edu Punay