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'Unseated' Marinduque rep laments SC's 'double standard'

PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP. Gina Reyes shows her proof of citizenship after being disqualified despite winning in the 2013 congressional race in Marinduque. File photo by Rappler

PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP. Gina Reyes shows her proof of citizenship after being disqualified despite winning in the 2013 congressional race in Marinduque.

File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Only two weeks after the Supreme Court (SC) allowed Senator Grace Poe to run for president, an unseated district representative lamented what she called the "double standard" of the high tribunal in handling disqualification cases in lower elective posts in the Philippines.

Regina Ongsiako-Reyes is the first poll protester to invoke the controversial ruling on her own eligibility as representative of Marinduque province's lone district.

In 2013, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) nullified her proclamation as the winning candidate since she lacked the one-year residency requirement for elected officials.

The SC affirmed the poll body's decision, and in January 2016 reiterated with finality its almost 3-year-old decision, ordering Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr to swear in Lord Allan Jay Velasco, son of SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, who Reyes beat during the 2013 congressional race by almost 4,000 votes. (READ: HRET, SC uphold rulings to remove Reyes as Marinduque rep)

Velasco inhibited from the case but Reyes alleged that he "wielded his influence" on the high court. (READ: Marinduque rep threatens to impeach Justice Velasco)

'Similarities with Poe'

Reyes pointed out that she and Poe both faced disqualifications before the high court.

The only difference, she said, was that she, "a natural-born citizen with a birth certificate, whose parents are Filipino citizens, and are known public servants" was ruled ineligible to serve as district representative.

She added that, like Poe, she also executed an affidavit renouncing her foreign citizenship twice – on September 21, 2012 and on September 21, 2015 – which restored her status as a natural-born Filipino citizen.

With a little over two months before the May polls, Reyes said she will raise these arguments as she asks the SC to revisit her case.

"If Poe is allowed to run, should not, with more reason that Gina O. Reyes be allowed to run?" she said.

In a landmark ruling released on March 8, 9 SC justices voted in favor of reversing the decision of the Comelec to cancel Poe's certificate of candidacy – allowing her to join the presidential race.

Meanwhile, Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, in his dissenting opinion, warned that the controversial ruling "would open the floodgates of election protests." – Rappler.com