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An Waray lawmaker won’t be unseated – SB

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - An Waray party-list Rep. Victoria Noel will not be removed as a member of the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday.

“There was this question that Rep. Noel was not specifically proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). I asked the House secretary general, who is the person who primarily looks over the credentials of everybody, and she has allowed her to take her seat,” he said.

“I, as Speaker, don’t go around looking at the credentials of everybody. I rely on the secretary general to do that. Now, in this case, the secretary general determined it is enough that the Comelec has proclaimed not the person but the party-list group and they have done that, and they have also determined that An Waray is entitled to two (seats) and they have also given some kind of a document to us identifying who are the two first nominees,” he said.

He added that the first two nominees certified by the Comelec, Noel, who is a lawyer, and Neil Montejo, are the ones representing An Waray in the House.

He said many House leaders and members hold the view that it is the party-list group that the Comelec proclaims, not its nominees, since it is the group that voters vote for.

A lawyer has written Belmonte questioning Noel’s continued membership in the House in light of a statement from Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes that the poll body has not proclaimed her.

However, Brillantes admitted that the commission had certified that An Waray had won two seats in the May 2013 elections.

He said the Comelec was not questioning the decision of the House to recognize Noel as one of An Waray’s two representatives.

“That is the prerogative of the House,” he was reported as saying.

Montejo, for his part, said if anyone has an issue about the qualification of his colleague, he should have filed a protest with the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

Montejo said it is the HRET that has jurisdiction over the election and qualification of a House member.

AN WARAY COMELEC COMELEC CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES HOUSE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL MONTEJO NEIL MONTEJO SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE JR. VICTORIA NOEL
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