‘Only HRET can unseat lawmaker’

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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 on Tuesday.

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House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong made the stance in connection with the case of Rep. Regina Reyes of Marinduque who has been disqualified by the Supreme Court 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 [Commission on Elections] 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 under Comelec jurisdiction.

Her opponent in the May polls was 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.

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