Jul 112013
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has annulled the proclamation of Regina Ongsiako Reyes as the winning representative of Marinduque province in the May 13 elections.

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

“The May 18 proclamation of the respondent, Regina Ongsiako Reyes, is declared null and void and without any legal force and effect,” the Comelec said.

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 cancelled her certificate of candidacy on the grounds that she is an American citizen.

Reyes, at a press conference, denied that she’s an American citizen. She also accused her rival’s father, Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco, of wielding his influence following a high court ruling favoring Reyes’ earlier disqualification by the Comelec.

“I have a copy of my Philippine passport,” she said. “I also have a certificate from the Bureau of Immigration that I used only a Philippine passport in all travels after I renounced my American citizenship.”
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Grace Padaca, and Luie Guia voted to unseat Reyes, while Commissioners Christian Lim and Al Parreño dissented on the grounds that the poll body no longer has jurisdiction over the case since Reyes has been proclaimed by the PBOC.

Reyes vs. Velasco

Meanwhile, Reyes, during her press conference, accused Justice Velasco of using his “unelected post” to promote the interest of his family.

“I call on him to refrain from using his unelected post to give rise to yet another constitutional crisis where Congress maybe be compelled to ignore a ruling of the Court reversing jurisprudence to benefit one of its own,” she said.

Reyes, however, refused to comment when asked if she would be moving for Velasco’s impeachment.

Public Information Office chief Theodore Te told GMA News Online that he had already “communicated to Justice Velasco about possible reaction, [but there is] none yet.”

Last May 14, the Comelec junked Reyes’ motion for reconsideration, rendering her disqualification final. The high court eventually upheld this ruling, saying the poll body did not exercise grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified Reyes for being an American citizen.

Undue haste

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/KBK, GMA News

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