• ‘Only death, resignation or expulsion can unseat me’

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    Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque on Tuesday said the Kabayan party-list board of Rep. Ron Salo has no power to remove him as a member of the House of Representatives.

    “Only my resignation, death or dismissal by a two-thirds vote of the members of the House of Representatives can remove me from my position as a member of Congress,” Roque added in a statement.

    According to him, he cannot be replaced as Kabayan party-list representative because Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List System Act provides, “No change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the Comelec [Commission on Elections] except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination or becomes incapacitated in which case the name of the substitutes nominee shall be placed last on the list.”

    “The Supreme Court [SC] ruled in Lokin vs. Comelec [consolidated cases G.R. Nos. 179431-32 & G.R. No. 180443]that the party-list organization can no longer change its nominees or to alter the order of nominees once the list is submitted to the Comelec, except when: [a]the nominee dies; [b]the nominee withdraws in writing his nomination; or [c]the nominee becomes incapacitated,” Roque said.

    “The High Court ruled that ‘when the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but only for application,’” he added.

    In its ruling, the SC said “Section 8 does not unduly deprive the party-list organization of its right to choose its nominees, but merely divests it of the right to change its nominees or to alter the order on the list of its nominees’ names after submission of the list to the Comelec.”

    Moreover, Roque added, since the Supreme Court ruled that the party-list organization may no longer change its nominees or alter the order of nominees once the list is submitted to the Comelec, the only other way to remove a member of the House is through a concurrence of the majority of members of the House of Representatives.

    “The Rules of the House of Representatives state that the House may suspend or expel an erring member with the concurrence of two-thirds (2/3) of all its members,” according to the lawmaker.

    Roque previously said he did not recognize the legitimacy, legality and authority of the Kabayan Party-list Board that seeks to investigate him purportedly because of his behavior during his questioning of Ronnie Dayan during the House Committee on Justice investigation of proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prisons, the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).

    Roque said the attacks against him were orchestrated by Salo.

    He said the black propaganda started after he asked the elders and members of Kabayan to reevaluate their appreciation of Salo’s integrity, given, among other issues, the latter’s indictment by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in an allegedly anomalous vehicle license plate deal.

    The DOJ previously indicted Salo and other executives of local firm Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. (PPDCI) and Dutch company J. Knieriem B.V. Goes (JKG) for estafa through falsification of commercial documents in connection with a P3.8-billion contract of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the Aquino administration for new car plates.

    Preliminary investigation revealed that Salo and managing director Christian Calalang submitted to the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) a document they said was the audited financial statement of JKG as a requirement for bidding for the Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP).

    “However, upon careful examination of the said document, it turned out that it is not the audited financial statement of JKG. What the respondents submitted during the bidding were the 2011 annual accounts of respondent JKG issued by the Chamber of Commerce of The Hague, the Netherlands, the 2011 consolidated accounts of H3 BV [the parent company of JKG],” the Assistant State Prosecutor’s resolution stated.
    Meanwhile, the apparent word war between Roque and Salo is heating up.

    It was Roque who suited up for the battle also on Tuesday, chiding Salo for raising apparently unsubstantiated claims against him.

    He laughed off Salo’s questions about a scholarship that he supposedly got from the British government.

    Roque said Salo “is ridiculously mistaken when he said I was not accepted as a British Chevening Scholar. To be clear, I never applied in the Chevening program nor do I claim to be such a scholar. I practiced for five years and saved so I could study in the best school for International Law, at the London School of Economics and Political Science under Sir Elihu Lauterpacht and International Court of Justice Judge Christopher Greenwood. This has been my best investment so far as it has yielded unquantifiable returns.”
    He accused Salo of making up other stories about him.

    “[Salo] was clearly hallucinating when he said I ‘relentlessly pleaded’ for him to become a nominee of the Kabayan party-list. He asked me to be so during an event in Japan last year because Kabayan was in danger of being delisted as a party-list by the Comelec [Commission on Elections],” Roque said.

    Truth is, he added, Kabayan “invited me to join them because they needed me to boost their chances at winning. Salo first ran in 2010 for a party-list seat; he lost, [getting]only 110,000 votes. He did not run in 2013 because he knew his chances were slim. After he approached me, I campaigned around the country in 2015-2016 and he did not. He benefitted from my campaign because my 840,000 votes yielded more than enough for one seat. That he is in Congress at all is because of me.”

    Roque called Salo an ingrate.

    “This so-called investigation by the Kabayan party-list, by a committee Salo himself created, is how he repays me. Fortunately, the law is in my favor [Section 8 of Republic Act 7941], ensuring that his evil machinations will not prosper. Salo’s offensive started after I asked the elders and members of Kabayan to reevaluate their appreciation of Salo’s integrity, given, among other issues, his indictment by the Department of Justice in the anomalous vehicle license plate deal,” he said.

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