Belmonte: Reyes in, Tañada out of House members list
MANILA, Philippiens — The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) will take over.
Incoming House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr said Marinduque Rep Regina "Gina" Reyes and Quezon Rep Angelina Tan will keep their seats in the House of Representatives inspite of Commission on Elections (Comelec) rulings annulling their proclamations.
"Both of them have pending cases before the HRET...The current thinking here is based on precedents as well as the constitutional provision, the HRET should have the exclusive jurisdiction over its members," Belmonte told reporters.
"The two women (Reyes and Tan) will be included in the roll call," Belmonte added.
This goes against a recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling that says Comelec rulings apply because the poll body keeps jurisdiction until the first day of session, which, in this case, is July 22.
Belmonte's position to uphold HRET jurisdiction favors LP neophyte Reyes in her fight for her House seat against former Rep Lord Allan Jay Velasco. The Comelec proclaimed Velasco winner on July 16.
But it also ends the bid of another LP neophyte Wigberto "Toby" Tañada Jr to oust Rep Angelina Tan. Toby is the brother of former Deputy Speaker Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada III.
The Comelec annulled the proclamation of Reyes on the ground that she is an American citizen and that she failed to comply with the one-year residency requirement.
Reyes denied these claims and lamented how the Comelec based its decision on a blog. She also said she was not given the opportunity to present evidence to counter the claims. The Comelec ruling was upheld by the SC, however.
Velasco, who stands to benefit from the SC ruling, is the son of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco. Reyes accused the justice of "wielding his influence" to favor his son.
The Comelec also annulled the proclamation of Tan. It ordered the Comelec in Quezon to reconvene and add the votes of a disqualified candidate to Tañada's total votes. The disqualified candidate shares Tañada's surname. Comelec said it was clear he ran only to confuse the voters. — Rappler.com