MANILA, Philippines?The House of Representatives on Monday accepted the resignation of Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson, who was recently convicted of drug trafficking in Hong Kong.
The 42-year-old Singson, who is serving an 18-month prison sentence in the Chinese territory, was officially dropped from the rolls of the 283-member House of Representatives after he sent in his resignation letter.
?I hereby instruct the secretary general to drop his name (Singson) from the rolls of the House of Representatives,? Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said at the opening of Monday?s session.
Belmonte said he was acting on the resignation letter of Singson dated Feb. 28.
Singson had initially rejected demands by his colleagues for him to quit after Hong Kong authorities arrested him in July last year with 6.67 grams of cocaine and two tablets of the sedative nitrazepam.
House members warned that if he did not quit, he would be kicked out in a potentially divisive voting process.
In his letter to the chamber from his prison cell last week, Singson, a part-time concert promoter and music channel operator, said he was quitting not because of pressure from his own colleagues.
?Rather, my resignation is a fulfillment of my promise to my father who has all the right to make the first and loudest protest because it was his name and honor that was mercilessly dragged into the tempest,? he said.
The legislator is one of the children of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis ?Chavit? Singson.
The elder Singson is also a former congressman and national security adviser. He is best known for spilling the beans on illegal gambling payoffs that led to the toppling of President Joseph Estrada in 2001.
House Resolution 1049 has been filed calling for special elections in Singson?s district to choose his replacement.
A vacant seat in Congress can be filled up to one year before the next regular election through a special poll called by one of its chambers.
The House membership will remain at 283 as a new representative from the party-list group 1-United Transport Coalition (1-Utak) was sworn in by Belmonte on Monday.
Homero Mercado became the the 1-Utak representative after the group?s first named representative, former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, committed suicide last month.
Mercado is president of the South Luzon Bus Operators Association and the owner of HM Transport which plies the Laguna-Manila route.
Meanwhile, a move by some lawmakers to clean up the House?s image after Singson?s drug conviction fizzled out Monday after only three of 12 congressmen who pledged to undergo voluntary drug testing showed up for the examination at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Representatives Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental, Emilene Aglipay of Diwa party-list and Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes submitted their urine samples.
Benitez said the lawmakers who agreed to participate but were no-shows were Mercedes K. Alvarez of Negros Occidental, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar (reported absent because of cancelled flights), Jesus Crispin Remulla of Cavite, JV Ejercito of San Juan, Mark Villar of Las Pinas, Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City, and Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar (reported absent because of previous engagements). With a report from AFP