Comelec unseats Marinduque lawmaker

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LORD Allan Jay Velasco has been declared as rightful winner in the lone Congressional District of Marinduque.

This was after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has annulled the proclamation of Regina Ongsiako Reyes on the basis of a Supreme Court (SC) decision disqualifying her from the post despite her proclamation.

With a vote of five against two, the majority of the Commissioners headed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., declared Reyes’ proclamation as null and void for her being an American citizen.

In the 19-page resolution dated July 9, 2013, Comelec granted the motion for reconsideration of Velasco to dump Reyes’ victory.

“Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the instant motion for reconsideration is hereby granted. The assailed June 19, 2013 resolution of the Comelec First Division is reversed and set aside,” avers the resolution.

Concurring in the majority opinion are Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Maria Cielo Grace Padaca and Luie Guia.

The dissenters are Commissioners Christian Roberto Lim and Al Parreno.

“Corollary thereto, the May 18, 2013 proclamation of respondent Regina Ongsiako Reyes is hereby declared null and void and without any legal force and effect. Petitioner Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco is hereby proclaimed the winning candidate for the position of Representative in the House of Representatives in the province of Marinduque,” it stated.

With this, the Comelec has also ordered the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) in Marinduque to be constituted which shall be appointed by the Comelec en banc in order to proclaim Velasco.

The Comelec ruling was anchored on the decision of the Supreme Court en banc, which stripped Reyes of her qualifications as a congressional candidate.

The election court opined that all the votes, which were cast in favor of Reyes are all “stray votes” in view of her disqualification.

It stated that Velasco, who notched 48,396 votes shall be the only remaining qualified candidate for the post.

The Reyes camp held a press conference to dispute the Comelec ruling.

Reyes said that it is the HRET, and not the Comelec, which has jurisdiction over the case since she was already proclaimed by the PBOC.

Reyes said that they will defy the Comelec en banc ruling and asked Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. to stop using his post in order for his son to gain victory.

High Court decision
In the Court decision, with a vote of 7-4-3, majority of the magistrates led by Associate Justice Jose Perez ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec.

Joining Perez are Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Mariano del Castillo, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad and Bienvenido Reyes.

Four of the justices who dissented in the ruling were Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, Marvic Mario Victor Leonen and Martin Villarama.

Three inhibited from the case—Justices Jose Catral Mendoza, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Pres-bitero Velasco. Justice Diosdado Peralta is abroad.

Velasco recused himself from the case since his son, incumbent Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque, is the opponent of Reyes in the May 2013 polls.

In the Comelec disqualification case, on May 14, Comelec has ruled with finality that Reyes is disqualified because she is an American citizen.

Voting 5 against 1, with one abstention, it affirmed with finality the Comelec First Division’s March 27, 2013 Resolution canceling Reyes’ certificate of candidacy.

With the said ruling, it effectively voids the victory of Reyes against Velasco under Republic Act 6646, which states: “Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted.”

Comelec brushed aside the defense of Reyes that she is a dual citizen of the Philippines and of the US because of her previous marriage to Saturnino Ador Dionisio, an American.

The poll body pointed out that Reyes is a US citizen and relied on the certificate issued by the Bureau of Immigration detailing Reyes’ use of a US passport since 2005.

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