• Supreme Court justices say former lawmaker denied due process


    The dissenting justices in the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on an election case claimed that the majority opinion of the high tribunal denied due process to former-Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes of Marinduque who was disqualified to run in the May 2013 polls.

    In the 21-page Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Arturo Brion, which was adopted by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Martin Villarama and Mario Victor Leonen, the minority bloc in the case stated that due process should have been observed.

    The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier disqualified Reyes from pursuing reelection during the May 13 polls based on a blog entry that cast suspicion on Reyes’ citizenship.

    The former lawmaker was allegedly not given the chance to dispute the charges against her candidacy.

    With the vote of seven justices, led by Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez, forming the majority opinion of the SC, the high court dismissed Reyes’ petition based solely on its contents and annexes.

    The minority block opposed the dismissal of the case, noting that the high court “should have heard and considered both sides before making a ruling that would favor the son of a Member of the Court.”

    Brion stated that, the majority ruling effectively upheld Reyes’ disqualification and left Lord Allan Jay Velasco, son of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, as the only qualified candidate for the contended post.

    “If the Court is indeed serious in administering justice or at least to be seen to be administering justice… it should not deliver the kind of hasty and imprudent action that it did in this case,” Brion said.

    Brion argued, “The proper course of action, if the Court indeed honestly wants to achieve this objective in the present case, is to require the Comelec to Comment on the petition and to decide matters from that point.”

    He also pointed out that the case deserves further proceedings rather than outright dismissal.

    It will be recalled that in the petition of Reyes before the high court, she said that the Comelec failed to accord her the opportunity to question the nature and authenticity of the evidence submitted by respondent, Joseph Tan.

    Brion also noted that even Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. echoed this concern in his dissenting opinion on the May 14 en banc decision of the poll body.

    In his dissenting opinion, Brillantes said that Tan failed to offer substantial evidence to prove that Reyes lost her Filipino citizenship.

    Brillantes also dubbed as hearsay the article posted online by a certain Eli Obligacion showing that Reyes used a US passport on June 30, 2012.

    The Comelec head also noted that the purported copy of the Bureau of Immigration certification was inadmissible, being a photocopy and not even a certified true copy of the original.

    “All told, the Comelec does not appear to have an airtight case based on substantial evidence on the citizenship and residency issues to justify a very prompt outright dismissal action from this Court,” Brion said.


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