SC justice says Reyes raps ‘baseless, malicious’
MANILA, Philippines—Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. on Friday denied using his influence to get the high tribunal to uphold a Commission on Elections decision to unseat the proclaimed winner of the Marinduque congressional race, Regina Ongsiako-Reyes, thereby paving the way for the proclamation of the magistrate’s son.
In a statement issued by his staff, lawyer Theresa Genevieve Co said Velasco did not participate in the Supreme Court’s deliberation of Reyes’ suit and his son, Lord Allan Jay Velasco, was not a party in the case in question.
“The allegation that he (Velasco) ‘wielded his influence’ in the case is baseless and malicious. Being a lawyer and an officer of the court, Attorney Reyes should have been circumspect in her statements,” Co said.
Reyes had filed a suit in the high court accusing the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified her from the race for Marinduque’s lone congressional seat.
Reyes had defeated the younger Velasco by some 4,000 votes in the May 13 elections. On May 14, however, the Comelec en banc ruled with finality that Reyes was disqualified from the congressional race for being an American citizen and for lacking the one year residency requirement for candidates.
Despite the Comelec decision, the provincial board of canvassers proclaimed Reyes the winner of the congressional race on May 18.
Reyes did not immediately bring her case to the Supreme Court, saying that since she had already been proclaimed, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), in accordance with the Constitution, had acquired jurisdiction over her disqualification case.
When the Comelec insisted on its jurisdiction, Reyes filed a case in the Supreme Court accusing the poll body of grave abuse of discretion.
However, on June 18, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, saying Comelec had jurisdiction over the case because Reyes then had not yet begun her term.
Supreme Court Justice Arturo Brion had dissented with the majority decision, saying the court infringed on the jurisdiction of the HRET and that the outright dismissal of the case without hearing indirectly benefited Justice Velasco’s son.
On Thursday, following the Supreme Court decision, the Comelec nullified Reyes’ victory and ordered the provincial board of canvassers to proclaim the younger Velasco as winner of the congressional race.
Reyes, however, insisted that she remained the legally elected representative and called for a press conference. She held up documents showing she had reacquired her Filipino citizenship.
Early in the campaign, critics accused Reyes of lying about her foreign residency status as well as her age and marital status in her certificate of candidacy.
Reyes is the daughter of Marinduque Gov. Carmencita Reyes.