• House throws out Comelec, SC ruling on electoral cases

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    The House of Representatives have recognized two women lawmakers thus far even if both Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Supreme Court nullified their election victory.

    This developed after the Public Relations and Information Bureau of the House of Representatives released a partial, unofficial list of district representatives for the 16th Congress.

    Dr. Angelina “Helen” Tan was identified as the representative of the fourth district of Quezon province, while Regina Reyes is named as the representative of the Lone District of Marinduque.

    Tan beat Wigberto “Toby” Tañada Jr. of the ruling Liberal Party in the May polls by 4,000 votes, but the Comelec nullified Tan’s proclamation as winner by June 30. In the same Comelec decision, the poll body tasked the Provincial Board of Canvassers to transfer the 7,038 votes of a certain Alvin Tañada to Toby because Alvin is disqualified from participating in the 2013 Congressional race.

    Reyes, on the other hand, won against then incumbent Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque, son of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco. But in June 25, the Supreme Court ruled that Reyes is a US citizen and therefore is not qualified to be a representative.

    The High Court decision on Reyes’ case affirmed the earlier decision of the Comelec.

    Rep. Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong, who is assured of retaining his House Majority Leader post in the 16th Congress, earlier stressed that Tan and Reyes remain the legitimate winners in the May elections because any nature of electoral protest or qualification questions will be under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) once the winners are proclaimed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers.

    The Comelec ruling on Tan and Supreme Court decision on Reyes’ case both came after they were proclaimed winners.

    “We will apply the principle of the HRET having the exclusive jurisdiction and sole judge once a member had been proclaimed by Comelec and had taken his/her oath before any officer authorized to administer an oath to all members, including party-list representatives who have been proclaimed by the Comelec,” Gonzales stressed in an interview.

    “The Comelec and Supreme Court should back off from encroaching on the exclusive jurisdiction of HRET. They can’t take away the powers of HRET to hear electoral protests against lawmakers as guaranteed by the Constitution,” Gonzales added.

    The HRET, whose members will be named after the 16th Congress opens its First Regular Session on July 22, can take as much as three years to resolve electoral protest cases.

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