Marinduque solon withdraws SC case

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Marinduque Rep. Regina Reyes INQUIRER.net file photo

MANILA, Philippines—A day after the House of Representatives chose to recognize her as its member instead of her rival, Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes on Tuesday withdrew the case she filed in the Supreme Court questioning her disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from participating in the May elections.

“Considering the absence of any comment or opposition from the respondents to the petition filed in this case, the petitioner respectfully manifests and gives notice of her withdrawal of her petition in this case, without waiver of her arguments, positions, defenses/causes of action as will now be articulated in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) which is now the proper forum,” Reyes said in her three-page manifestation and notice of withdrawal addressed to the high court.

Officially recognized

In her manifestation, Reyes pointed out that during the opening of Congress on Monday, she was “officially and formally recognized as the duly elected representative of the said congressional district  and voted for the Speakership of House of Representatives of Congressman Feliciano Belmonte Jr.”

She also said she was among the House members who took their oath of office before Belmonte in open session.

“With the petitioner’s admission and recognition in the House of Representatives, and the official opening and organization of the House of Representatives, all controversies regarding petitioner’s qualifications and election to office are now within the jurisdiction of the HRET,” Reyes said.

Upheld by SC

The high court had earlier upheld Comelec’s disqualification of Reyes, which effectively makes Lord Allen Velasco, the son of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, the winner of the race for the lone congressional district of Marinduque.

Reyes had accused Velasco of wielding his influence in court to get the ruling that was penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez. But Velasco denied Reyes’ allegation. Reyes then filed a motion for reconsideration and asked for the inhibition of Perez, citing his alleged close ties with Velasco.

But on Monday, the man who had questioned the eligibility of Reyes to run for office because he claimed she was an American citizen, asked for the inhibition of Associate Justice Arturo Brion in the deliberation and resolution of the case.

Special bond

It was Brion who wrote the dissenting opinion to the high court ruling dismissing Reyes’ petition, warning the high court had acted with haste.

In his petition before the high court dated July 19 but was released to the media on Monday, Joseph Socorro Tan noted “factual circumstances which may tend to show that (Brion) may not have been as impartial as he would want in his determination of this petition.”

Tan said that Brion and Reyes’ brother, former Marinduque Rep. Edmund Reyes Jr., went to Ateneo law school and belonged to the same fraternity, the Fraternal Order of Utopia.

Frat brothers

Brion also used to be a member of the law firm Siguion Reyna, Montecillo and Ongsiako from 1995 to 2001 which was the same period where Reyes’ brother was also connected.

“Being fraternity brothers and former colleagues, the petitioner’s brother and the Hon. Justice Brion share a special bond and extraordinary professional and personal relationship. Which bond and special relationship may translate to the Hon. Justice Brion’s bias and unimpartial determination of this petition,” he said.

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