Marinduque lawmaker threatens to file impeach rap vs SC justice Velasco | Inquirer News
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Marinduque lawmaker threatens to file impeach rap vs SC justice Velasco

/ 05:12 PM July 15, 2013

Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Regina Reyes, who has been proclaimed Marinduque representative, on Monday threatened to file an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco for allegedly using his position to get a favorable ruling from the tribunal to benefit his family.

The Supreme Court last month upheld a Commission on Elections ruling that disqualified Reyes on the ground that she was a United States citizen, and said the poll body has jurisdiction over the case because Reyes has not yet begun her term.

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Reyes’ disqualification would mean that her rival Lord Allan Velasco, Justice Velasco’s son whom she beat by 4,000 votes, would be Marinduque’s duly elected representative.

Justice Velasco was not among the magistrates who joined the ruling, having inhibited himself from the case. He has also denied using his influence to benefit his son, in the wake of allegations that Reyes earlier aired.

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Reyes, who had questioned the Comelec’s jurisdiction before the Supreme Court, has contended that since she was already proclaimed and has taken her oath, any challenge to her position should be taken up by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

The Supreme Court ruling would give rise to a constitutional crisis, she said.

In a press conference on Monday, Reyes described as a “lame excuse” Velasco’s earlier statement that he did not participate in the ruling that benefited his son. She insisted on her belief that the magistrate had a hand in the court decision against her.

“It is you who must be more circumspect,” she said, addressing Velasco.

“It was you, after all, who benefited from what the truly Honorable Justice [Arturo] Brion described as a decision arrived at with ‘undue haste’ to benefit your family. It was you who sparked this constitutional crisis because instead of upholding the supremacy of the Constitution, the decision in Reyes vs Comelec undermined and made a mockery of the Constitution. This is clearly the impeachable offense of culpable violation of the Constitution,” Reyes said.

She also noted that the ponente of the decision against her was Justice Jose Perez, who was Justice Velasco’s classmate and who was a Deputy Court Administrator when Velasco was the Court Administrator.

She called on Velasco to face her, saying their meeting could take place in the magistrate’s office if he would schedule oral arguments, or  “in Congress when I file the impeachment complaint before the Committee on Justice.”

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Harry Roque, Reyes’ lawyer, when asked how the impeachment case could be filed against Velasco if he had inhibited himself from Reyes’ case, said that the dissenting opinion of Justice Arturo Brion on the case essentially indicated that Supreme Court issued the ruling in undue haste to benefit one of its own.

Brion, in the dissenting opinion, stated: “Unless the case is clearly and patently shown to be without basis and out of our sense of delicadeza (which we should have), the Court should at least hear and consider both sides before making a ruling that would favor the son of a Member of the Court.”

Roque also said the impeachment complaint would be filed after the House of Representatives has organized its committees, which would come after the President’s state of the nation address on Monday.

During the press conference, Reyes also called on the other Supreme Court justices to be faithful to the constitution.

“I do know the importance of collegiality and pakikisama. These are respected not just in the Court, but in all other branches of government, including Congress. Collegiality though should be secondary to the discharge of our Constitutional functions,” she said.

Reyes’ fellow Liberal Party members Mel Senen Sarmiento and Raneo Abu and came to support her Monday.

But with regard to the impeachment complaint, Sarmiento, the LP secretary general, said the party would have to discuss first whether it would back the endeavor.

Meanwhile, Velasco’s son Lord Allan said in a statement that Reyes, herself a lawyer, violated the sub judice rule when she discussed the case in an earlier press conference when the matter was still under judicial consideration.

Even if the court had dismissed Reyes’ petititon, she should not have talked about the matter or presented evidence since she had intended to file a motion for reconsideration, he said. Her actions violate the Code of Professional Responsibility, he added.

He also defended the Supreme Court ruling, saying Reyes’ arguments lacked basis. He said that under the rules, the tribunal could dismiss without further proceedings the petitions similar to what Reyes filed, if these are insufficient in form and substance.

He said the Comelec resolution disqualifying her was already final and executory because she had been unable to get a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.

He further said that under the Comelec rules, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over decisions of the Comelec, and that the rules of the HRET state that it has jurisdictions only over petitions on the ground of ineligibility and disloyalty of the candidate to the Republic of the Philippines, as well as election protests on the revision of ballots in contested districts.

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TAGS: Elections 2013, ethics, Marinduque, Politics, presbitero velasco, Regina Reyes, Supreme Court
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