Velasco takes oath as Marinduque lawmaker 2 days before Congress adjourns
MANILA — The House leadership has given in and finally accepted Lord Allan Jay Velasco as the representative of Marinduque after more than two years of stonewalling on the removal of Liberal Party member Regina Ongsiako Reyes.
Velasco was accompanied by his wife when he was sworn in by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. at 6:40 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 1), with just two days left before Congress would adjourn for the long campaign break.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzalez II said that the House of Representatives had received a copy of the Commission on Elections’ proclamation declaring Velasco, the son of Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., as the duly elected representative of Marinduque, which rendered Ongsiako-Reyes “as if she has never been a member of the 16th Congress.”
Gonzalez said that Ongsiako-Reyes’ name has been expunged from the House roll but she would not return the salaries and perks she received from July 2013 to January 2016.
As late as a week ago, the House leaders remained defiant against removing Ongsiako-Reyes despite a mandamus order from the Supreme Court and the denial of the House appeal for reconsideration.
House leaders have come under fire for refusing to enforce a Comelec order, upheld by the Supreme Court, disqualifying Ongsiako-Reyes because she was an American citizen at the time of her election to Congress.
The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), however, ignored the Comelec and swore in Ongsiako-Reyes.
Velasco, a member of the National Unity Party, would join his mother AMA Partylist Rep. Lorna Velasco in Congress.
Gonzalez said that another LP member would be replaced following a Supreme Court decision disqualifying Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay.
“We will wait for the official transmission (from the SC) and I think it’s a decision as a result of the HRET decision and of course we will abide by it,” said Gonzalez in a press conference.
Pichay will be replaced by Mary Elizabeth Ty-Delgado.
Pichay, however, said he would appeal the high court ruling and that he would only vacate his seat upon the issuance of a final ruling. SFM