Kicked-out congressman: Belmonte has copy of SC ruling
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of unseated Northern Samar 1st District Representative Harlin Abayon refuted the claim of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr that the House had not received a copy of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that reinstates the lawmaker.
Belmonte told reporters on May 31 that the High Court had not issued his office a copy of their May 3 verdict that reverses the House Electoral Tribunal’s (HRET) decision that ousted Abayon from office.
This, Belmonte explained last week, is why they did not include Abayon in the roster of House members called during the start of the joint session’s official canvassing of votes for president and vice president. (READ: Who's the real congressman of Northern Samar?)
According to an email sent to Rappler by Abayon’s daughter-in-law Noey Abayon, all the parties involved in the case – the legal counsels, HRET, Office of the Solicitor General, and the Office of the House Speaker – received a copy of the document on May 30.
It was the same day of the proclamation of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, and when Abayon protested that he was not included in the roll call of House members.
Here’s Abayon's copy of the decision, which shows Belmonte’s office received the ruling at 11:45 am on May 30:
Belmonte earlier said that Abayon could still take his oath on the 16th Congress’ last day of session on Monday, June 6, if they would obtain a copy of the ruling. But come Monday evening, Abayon was ordered to leave the plenary hall while in session.
Against House rules
Speaking to the media after exiting the plenary hall, Abayon lamented that the manner his opponent, Raul Daza, waa sworn into office was against the House rules.
Rule 2 Section 6 says that members of the House of Representatives shall take their oath of affirmation before the Speaker in open session.
“Now, we were no longer in open session when they allowed my opponent to take his oath [on] March 14 [at] the Office of the Secretary-General and before the Secretary-General of the House,” he said.
He also insinuated that the House leadership, led by LP stalwart Belmonte, favored Daza because he is a party mate.
“When the HRET decided against me by annulling the election in 5 clustered precincts in two municipalities, they immediately allowed my opponent to assume office and take his oath notwithstanding my certiorari case before the SC,” he said.
Daza and Abayon both ran for Congress in 2013. Abayon won the race, but Daza filed an electoral protest before the HRET, seeking to annul the votes in several clustered precincts due to alleged electoral fraud.
HRET, on February 3, 2016, ruled in favor of Daza. Abayon filed a petition for certoriari on March 9, stressing that the HRET erred in its ruling because there was no sufficient evidence presented in the case.
The SC favored Abayon and ordered the House leadership to reinstate him.
Asked to comment, Belmonte said on Tuesday, June 7, that the implementation of the SC decision had been overtaken by a motion for reconsideration by Daza.
"Frankly, what we were looking for was a final entry of judgment. It's required. But now Daza filed a motion for reconsideration with the SC," the Speaker said.
Abayon ran again for the 2016 elections but this time lost to Daza by 90 votes.
The two lawmakers have served Northern Samar alternately. Daza was the province’s congressman from 1987 to 1998 and from 2007 to 2013, while Abayon held office from 1998 to 2007 and from 2013 to 2016. – Rappler.com