Jul 122013

The camp of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco on Friday described as “baseless and malicious” an accusation made by unseated Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes that the magistrate “wielded his influence” in her disqualification case.

At a press conference on Thursday, Reyes accused Justice Velasco of using his “unelected post” to promote the interest of his family. Reyes recently lost a case at the SC, which upheld her disqualification on the grounds that she is an American citizen.

Reyes’ rival in the last elections was Velasco’s son, losing congressional bet Lord Allan Jay Velasco. This prompted the SC magistrate to inhibit from the case filed with the SC.

“Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr did not participate in [the case] as he actually inhibited from the case, although his son, Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, is not a party to said case,” said Theresa Genevieve Co from the magistrate’s office.

In a 19-page resolution, the Comelec en banc ordered the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) of Marinduque to proclaim Lord Allan as the winning representative in the province’s lone district.

Voting 5-2, the Comelec en banc said Reyes lacked the one-year residency required for an elected official. In March, the Comelec First Division has canceled her certificate of candidacy on the grounds that she is an American citizen.

“The allegation that he wielded his influence in said case is baselss and malicious,” Co said in a statement.

“Being a lawyer and an officer of the court, Atty. Reyes should have been circumspect in her statements,” she added.

Although Velasco inhibited from the case, Reyes still cast doubts on SC’s “undue haste” in deciding on her petition, saying a ruling was issued even without the Comelec being asked to comment first as what is normally done in cases filed with the high court.

She also noted how the SC seemed to have “rewritten the Constitution” when it ruled that the oath recognized by the Constitution is the one administered by the House Speaker on the day of the State of the Nation Address, which is scheduled on July 22.

“This is an instance where a Justice of the highest post wielded his influence to reverse jurisprudence in order to benefit his family. This is a travesty of Justice,” she said.

Following the SC ruling, Lord Allan contested Reyes’ proclamation before the Comelec, but the poll body junked his plea, saying the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has acquired jurisdiction over the case since she has already been proclaimed, has taken his oath, and has assumed office.

However, the SC said the Comelec retained jurisdiction until the noon of June 30, the beginning of the term of Reyes and those of other winning candidates. Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMA News

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