ABS party-list counsel insists De Vera ouster ‘valid’
The counsel of the Arts, Business, and Science Professionals (ABS) party-list insisted on Tuesday that the party and the House’s expulsion of Rep. Eugene Michael De Vera was valid and lawful.
In a press conference, lawyer Napoleon Galit, said their party has “sole jurisdiction” to expel De Vera and that the lower chamber, consequently has the “power and authority” to act on their decision by unseating De Vera.
But Galit also admitted that the lawmaker “committed a mortal sin” when he failed to consult the party members before he sought the minority leadership post in the House.
“This was one mortal sin that Eugene De Vera committed: failure to consult among the members,” he said.
While the party “welcomes” De Vera’s plan to appeal the chamber’s move before the Supreme Court, Galit said it may be too late now to seek remedy within their organization.
“We always welcome those remedies. But he should have exercised his right within the machinery provided by ABS party which he wasted. It’s now too late for De Vera to seek remedy within the party-list,” the lawyer said.
Galit further said De Vera’s “inclination on the speakership post” was “not too much of (their) concern” but, he admitted the latter’s “total oblivion of his duty to consult the party on his affiliations and activities” was a violation of their party rules. He also cited as basis Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act.
The ABS party-list’s lawyer also dismissed De Vera’s claim that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has the sole jurisdiction over the questions on his qualification.
“The Congress has the exclusive disciplinary authority of its members,” Galit said, adding that their second nominee Ulysses Garces should now be allowed to take an oath and take over De Vera’s unexpired term until 2019.
De Vera and ally, Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas has slammed the chamber’s “illegal” expulsion of the former. The two said the HRET has the sole jurisdiction to determine if a sitting congressman is qualified or not, as mandated under Article VI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution.
Fariñas also said Article VI, Section 16 (3) of the Charter empowers the House of Representatives to expel a sitting member only under one instance which is for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the House members. /muf
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