Court kicks out American as Marinduque lawmaker

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THE Supreme Court (SC) denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by former Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes of the lone congressional district of Marinduque. She questioned her ouster from office for being an American citizen.

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With a 5-4 vote, the court stood pat on their ruling that there was no grave abuse of discretion of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in disqualifying Reyes.

SC Justice Presbitero Velasco reacused 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 ruled with finality that Reyes is disqualified because she is an American.

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 junked Reyes’ defense 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.

However, the House of Representatives is firm in not recognizing the Court decision ousting Reyes as one of their members.

Earlier, House Speaker Feli-ciano Belmonte opined that it is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, which has jurisdiction on the qualifications of Reyes and not the high court.

Not giving up
Reyes won’t give up her post as a member of the House of Representatives even if she has been deemed disqualified by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Reyes, in a chance interview with reporters, made the stance on the day that the High Court ruled in favor of her 2013 polls rival,

Velasco—the son of Supreme Court justice Presbitero Velasco.

“We need to respect the mandate of the Constitution providing for the independence of branches. No, I won’t vacate my position. The case [electoral protest of the younger Velasco against her]is with the HRET. This is a dangerous precedent. I will stick with the HRET’s [jurisdiction],” Reyes told reporters.

Reyes, who was calm during the entire interview, was referring to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, which is mandated by the Constitution to solely resolve electoral protests involving House members after the proclamation of winners.

WITH REPORT FROM LLANESCA T. PANTI

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