House leader: Only HRET can unseat Reyes


Not even a Supreme Court ruling on disqualification is enough to unseat a member of Congress who has been proclaimed the winner, a House leader said Tuesday.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City made the stance in connection with the case of Rep. Regina Reyes of Marinduque who has been disqualified by the Supreme Court based on the ground that she is an American citizen.

“If we are to be consistent with the time-honored principle, a member [of the House]proclaimed by the Comelec’s Board of Canvassers and has taken his/her oath is under the sole jurisdiction of the HRET. Let the HRET unseat her so as to be consistent with the principle,” Gonzales said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

Gonzales, a veteran lawmaker, was referring to the provision of the Constitution which provides that electoral protests against House members should be solely resolved by the HRET, which also has three members from the High Court.

Reyes was disqualified by the Comelec Central office ahead of the elections but was still proclaimed the winner of the race by the Provincial Board of Canvassers who are under the jurisdiction of the Comelec.

Her opponent in the last May polls is then Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque, son of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco.

“How can we implement, much less follow the decision of the Supreme Court, when we are not even party to the case? It’s not us who are inciting constitutional crisis here,” Gonzales added.

Earlier, Reps. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro province and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list underscored that it is very unusual for the Supreme Court to dip its hands on electoral protests involving proclaimed winners since it has always tossed such cases to HRET.

The lawmakers were referring to the electoral protests lodged by Bayan Muna against former Reps. Gen. Jovito Palparan of Bantay party-list and Juan Miguel Arroyo of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list questioning these individuals’ qualification to represent a marginalized group in Congress.

“We can’t be manhandled by the Supreme Court, especially if they are flip-flopping. This is a wake up call to the magistrates who are despotic in their ways, emasculating the powers not only of Congress but even of the Executive,” Umali pointed out.

“We were really surprised. I don’t see any reason why there is a sudden change on the part of the Supreme Court. It would not be unreasonable for the people to think that this might have been influenced by that [fact that Reyes’ opponent was Justice Velasco’s son],” Colmenares said in a separate interview. LLANESCA T. PANTI


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