Reyes Camp Turns to House for Help on SC Decision

Regina Ongsiako-Reyes shows her passport and other documents

The camp of Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako-Reyes will ask the leadership of the House of Representatives to appeal the Supreme Court decision removing the congresswoman from her post for allegedly failing to meet residency and citizenship requirements.

This was revealed by Reyes’ husband, former Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, stressing that they are still awaiting the copy of the ruling where the high court asked the House to officially declare former Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco as the winning representative in the lone district of the province. Velasco is the son of SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.

“We will wait for the official notice and we will consult lawyers for legal action [appeal] when decision is received,” Mandanas said in a text message.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House being the respondent to the case would only act on the order only after it becomes final and executory.

“Once the decision is final, that is the time that I will comply on the ruling,” Belmonte, a lawyer, said.

But Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, a lawyer and stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party where Reyes is a member, expressed belief that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal has the sole power to decide on the issue.

Umali said the HRET is the “sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members.”

“That is [HRET has the sole prerogative and power to remove a member] the letter of the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. We will try to find out the collective decision of the House as an institution,” Umali, chair of the House committee on energy, said.

“I am just wondering how it was done without remanding the case to the court of origin, which as a general rule has the mandate to execute a final and executory judgment,” Umali added.

In its ruling, the high court asked House Secretary General, Marilyn Barua-Yap, being the public respondent, to “register the name of petitioner Velasco in the roll of members of the House of Representatives after he has taken his oath of office.”

SC spokesman Theodore Te  earlier confirmed the court en banc granted the petition for mandamus filed by the young Velasco ordering Belmonte to administer the oath of former lawmaker as the duly-elected representative of Marinduque.

The SC said the young Velasco was entitled to the writ of mandamus under Rule 65, Sec. 3 because the finality of the court’s ruling in GR No. 207264 and the Comelec resolution in SPA No. 13-053 and SPC No. 13-010 “left no issue as to who is the rightful representative of the lone district of Marinduque.”

Under GR No. 207264, the high tribunal magistrates voted 7-4-3 to dismiss a petition for certiorari filed by Reyes, contesting her disqualification by the Commission on Elections.

The high tribunal stressed that the Comelec, through its SPA No. 13-053 and SPC No. 13-010, did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified Reyes for being an American citizen.

The Comelec’s disqualification of Reyes, who was able join the May 13, 2013 mid-term polls, only become final the following day or May 14, prompting her to file a second motion for reconsideration.

The Comelec en banc ordered the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Marinduque to proclaim the young Velasco as the winning representative in the province’s lone district in disqualifying Reyes.

Voting 5-2, the Comelec en banc declared Reyes to be lacking the one-year residency required for an elected official.

In March 2015, the First Division of the Comelec canceled her Certificate of Candidacy on the grounds that she is an American citizen which Reyes denied.

Source and courtesy: Maricel Cruz, The Standard

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