Court orders lawmaker’s arrest
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines –  The Metropolitan Trial Court in Quezon City has ordered the arrest of disqualified Marinduque congresswoman Regina Reyes for failing to appear during her arraignment on charges of usurpation of official functions yesterday morning.

Reyes’ lawyer presented a medical certificate dated Jan. 26 as proof that his client was “indisposed,” MTC Branch 41 Judge Analie Oga-Brual said in a two-page order.

Prosecutor Marcelino Atanante IV, however, objected to a motion to reset the arraignment. He said the medical certificate Reyes’ camp presented had not been notarized in accordance with guidelines for litigation.

Brual, in granting Atanante’s objection, denied the motion to reset the arraignment.

“Let a warrant of arrest be issued against accused and the bond she posted is hereby confiscated in favor of the government,” Brual ordered.

Former Marinduque congressman Lord Allan Velasco filed usurpation of official function charges against Reyes after she refused to step down as congresswoman even if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified her due to her American citizenship.

Reyes was proclaimed winner in the 2013 elections and won more than 5,000 votes, but the Comelec later on ruled to disqualify her, cancelled her certificate of candidacy and nullified her earlier proclamation.

The Comelec’s decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court (SC).

In a separate notice, the High Court, in full session, also denied Reyes’ motion for reconsideration with finality on Jan. 20.

House mulls next move

The House of Representatives is still studying its next move after the SC rejected the appeal of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to overturn its order for the chamber to remove Reyes and install Velasco.

Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. said the House has yet to officially receive a copy of the SC ruling.

Velasco is the son of SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, who also chairs the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. denied the House filed the motion for reconsideration, saying he has not authorized the OSG to file the appeal.

Shortly after the SC directed the House to swear in Velasco two weeks ago, Belmonte said he was upholding the independence of the chamber.

The HRET last December voted 4-3 to declare that the SC, not the House body, has jurisdiction on deciding the legal issues between Reyes and Velasco. – With Paolo Romero

ACIRC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE PRESBITERO VELASCO BRUAL COMELEC FORMER MARINDUQUE HIGH COURT HOUSE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL REYES VELASCO
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