Comelec proclaims justice’s son winner in Marinduque poll


11:26 PM July 17th, 2013

By: Christine O. Avendaño, Philip C. Tubeza, July 17th, 2013 11:26 PM

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday declared the son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco as the rightful congressman of Marinduque despite the protests of his main rival.

Convening at the Comelec main office in Manila, the reconstituted Marinduque provincial board of canvassers proclaimed reelectionist Lord Allan Jay Velasco as the rightful winner after the commission disqualified his opponent, Regina Ongsiako Reyes, as an American citizen.

Reyes, in a 63-page motion, sought a reversal of the July 15 Supreme Court decision that upheld her disqualification by the Comelec, asking the author of the ruling, Associate Justice Jose Perez, to inhibit himself from the case.

Reyes had accused Justice Velasco, who did not take part in the July 15 decision, of using his influence over the high court to keep his son’s seat in the House of Representatives.

Comelec lawyer Ma. Josefina dela Cruz, chair of the new Marinduque provincial canvassing board, said the proclamation of Reyes by the previous board is “null, void and without any legal force.”

A lawyer of Reyes, Nelia Aureus, who was present at the proclamation, walked out. Aureus insisted that Reyes’ proclamation is binding and that Reyes, a member of the Reyes clan which has ruled Marinduque for decades, has “started performing the functions of her office.”

Lord Allan Jay Velasco, in a statement, said he felt vindicated. He said accusations that his father wielded influence over the high court to side with the Comelec against Reyes “is so baseless.”

Reyes, in her motion for reconsideration, said Justice Perez should inhibit himself from the case because of his close relationship with Justice Velasco. Reyes said Perez had served as deputy to Justice Velasco when the latter was court administrator.

“It is a relationship similar to or it is as if Justice Perez was counsel, partner or member of a law firm of Justice Velasco,” said Reyes in her motion. Justice Velasco, she said, has “pecuniary interest in the case.”

In his statement, Lord Allan Jay Velasco said Reyes’ accusations against Justice Velasco is contemptuous.

The younger Velasco said Reyes should know the bounds of unethical behavior since she is also a lawyer. The younger Velasco said Reyes violated the sub judice rule by publicly discussing the merits of the case at the Supreme Court.

The younger Velasco said Reyes violated rules of court when she made public documents to support her citizenship claim which have not been submitted to the Comelec or the Supreme Court.

The Code of Professional Responsibility, the code of ethics of lawyers, requires lawyers to refrain from using “scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the courts.”

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