Speaker urged to enforce SC ruling installing Velasco as Marinduque lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives should enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling installing Lord Allan Jay Velasco, the runnerup in the 2013 congressional race in Marinduque as the legitimate lawmaker for the province, two legal experts said.
In an interview with reporters, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Vicente Joyas and former University of the East law dean Amado Valdez said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. should honor and implement the high court’s January 12 decision granting Velasco’s plea for mandamus.
“Since the Supreme Court’s ruling is final, Velasco can just take his oath and assume the position,” Valdez, who is also chair emeritus of the Philippine Association of Law Schools, said.
Joyas for his part, warned that disobedience could lead to a contempt case, adding parties that refused to implement an order of the court could be penalized by fine or imprisonment.
“A contempt proceeding is always a remedy available to an aggrieved party in cases of disobedience to a lawful order of the court,” Joyas said.
“Congress must follow the decision” the lawyer added, saying that “the officers of the House of Representatives are vested by law to implement the order of the Supreme Court.”
The court, voting 8-1, with 6 abstentions, ruled that the administration of the oath and the registration of Velasco as the duly elected congressman for Marinduque “are no longer a matter of discretion or judgment” on the part of Belmonte and the House secretary-general Marilyn Barua-Yap.
The high tribunal ruled with finality in October 2013 that sitting Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako-Reyes was disqualified from being elected to Congress. The court said the Commission on Elections correctly found out that Reyes failed to prove that she was a Filipino citizen when she filed her certificate of candidacy and that she failed to meet the one-year residency requirement for congressional candidates.
In deciding on Velasco’s mandamus petition, the court said Belmonte and Barua-Yap were “legally duty-bound” to recognize Velasco as the duly elected Marinduque congressman as the court’s October 2013 was already final and executory.
“It is well past the time for everyone concerned to accept what has been adjudicated and take judicial notice of the fact that Reyes’ ineligibility to run for and be elected to the subject position had already been long affirmed by this court. Any ruling deviating from such established ruling will be contrary to the Rule of Law and should not be countenanced,” the court said.
The court junked Reyes’ argument that only the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal could remove her from office, adding that since her CoC was cancelled, her proclamation as winner was void and therefore she had no legal personality to be recognized lawmaker in the first place.
Reyes’ camp, through her counsel Harry Roque, said they would file a motion for reconsideration of the court’s ruling on the mandamus case.
Reyes, daughter of incumbent Marinduque Gov. Carmencita Reyes, is a member of the ruling Liberal Party.
Velasco is the son of Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco and Ang Mata’y Aalagaan party-list Rep. Lorna Velasco. SFM
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