Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Marinduque issue not up to speaker's discretion - SC

Marinduque Congressman Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco

Marinduque issue not up to speaker’s discretion – SC

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the administration of the oath and the registration of Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco in the Roll of Members of the House of Representatives for the lone district of Marinduque “are no longer a matter of discretion or judgment” on the part of House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr.

This was stressed by the SC in its “immediately executory” decision that directed Belmonte to administer the oath of office to Velasco and ordered House Secretary General Marilyn B. Barua Yap to register the name of Velasco as member of Congress.

In an 8-1 decision written by Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, an official copy of which was released by the SC yesterday, the High Court said:

“It is well past the time for everyone concerned to accept what has been adjudicated and take judicial notice of the fact that Regina Ongsiako Reyes’ ineligibility to run for and be elected to the subject position had already been long affirmed by this Court. Any ruling deviating from such established ruling will be contrary to the Rule of Law and should not be countenanced.”

The SC said that Speaker Belmonte had been officially served a copy of a decision. A check with the House of Representatives as of noon yesterday showed that no oath-taking has been scheduled for Velasco.

In ruling favorably on Velasco’s petition for mandamus, the SC said that “there is no longer any issue as to who is the rightful representative of the lone district of Marinduque” with the finality of its decision which affirmed the ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that “correctly cancelled Reyes’ certificate of candidacy (COC) for member of the House of Representatives on the ground that she was ineligible for the subject position due to her failure to prove her Filipino citizenship and the requisite one-year residency in the province of Marinduque.”

Mandamus is a special civil action that, among other things, “covers situations of unlawfully excluding another from the use of enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled…”

“By virtue of Comelec en banc resolution dated May 14, 2013, in SPA No. 13-053; certificate of finality dated June 5, 2013 in SPA No. 13-053; Comelec en banc resolution dated June 19, 2013, in SPC N. 13-010; Comelec en banc resolution dated July 10, 2013 in SPA No. 13-053; and Velasco’s certificate of proclamation dated July 16, 2013, Velasco is the rightful representative of the lone district of the province of Marinduque; hence, entitled to a writ of Mandamus,” the SC ruled.

The SC pointed out five “undisputed facts” that would affirm Velasco’s  right for the issuance of a mandamus.  These are:

1. “At the time of Reyes’ proclamation, her COC was already cancelled by the Comelec en banc in its final finding in its resolution dated May 14, 2013, the effectivity of which was not enjoined by this Court, as Reyes did not avail of the prescribed remedy….”

2.  “This Court upheld the Comelec decision cancelling respondent Reyes’ COC in its resolutions of June 25, 2013, and October 22, 2013, and these resolutions are already final and executory.”

3. “As a consequence of the above events, the Comelec in SPC No. 13-010 cancelled respondent Reyes’ proclamation and, in turn, proclaimed Velasco as the duly elected member of the House of Representatives in representation of the lone district of the province of Marinduque. The said proclamation has not been challenged or questioned by Reyes in any proceeding.”

4.  “When Reyes took her oath of office before respondent Speaker Belmonte Jr. in open session, Reyes had no valid COC nor a valid proclamation.”

5.  “In view of the foregoing, Reyes has absolutely no legal basis to serve as member of the House of Representatives for the lone district of the province of Marinduque, and therefore, she has no legal personality to be recognized as a party-respondent at the quo warranto proceeding before the HRET.” - Rey G. Panaligan, Manila Bulletin

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