|House Speaker Fernando Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, Jr.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. would rather follow the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) than the Supreme Court.
Belmonte yesterday said Regina Ongsiako Reyes would be keeping her seat as the representative of Marinduque which the Supreme Court had ruled she had no right to, until he had made a final decision on the issue.
“She (Reyes) will stay there until I do something. I will act on this one way or another before we go on campaign break on Feb. 9,” Belmonte told reporters.
The Comelec was acting on a petition of Reyes’ rival in the Marinduque congressional race, Lord Allan Jay Velasco, the son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
When the House refused to enforce the Supreme Court ruling and continued to recognize Reyes as the Marinduque representative, Velasco filed a mandamus petition with the high court.
On Jan. 12, the Supreme Court ordered Belmonte to unseat Reyes and swear in Velasco as the representative of Marinduque.
Belmonte said he could not decide whether or not to heed the high tribunal’s mandamus order because the HRET had decided last month to dismiss Velasco’s petitions against Reyes.
“We also had a decision of the HRET which in effect would have the same effect as the SC. They are independent of each other. I was thinking I should enforce, if at all, the HRET decision in consonance with the rules of the House. But there is also nothing wrong if you follow the SC. But for me, as Speaker, it is better to follow the HRET,” said Belmonte.
But a kink has emerged in the HRET voting after it was revealed that one of its members, Gabriela party-list member Luz Ilagan, should not have participated in the 4-3 vote.