House has 2 new members
THE HOUSE of Representatives has installed two new members in the 16th Congress in place of lawmakers recently disqualified by the courts.
Mary Elizabeth Ty-Delgado has been officially designated representative of Surigao del Sur’s 1st District in place of Philip Pichay, while former Deputy Speaker Raul Daza takes over the post of Harlin Abayon as congressman for the 1st District of Northern Samar.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the Supreme Court has upheld with finality the disqualification of Pichay who was convicted of libel and was still serving a five-year ban from public office when he ran for his third and final term in 2013.
“The ruling on Pichay’s case (was) implemented after the high court dismissed with finality his petition for reconsideration,” Belmonte said.
In Daza’s case, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) decision disqualifying Abayon became final five days after promulgation, Belmonte said, adding that Abayon had failed to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court to stop the HRET decision.
Delgado and Daza will attend their first session when the 16th Congress resumes on May 3 for the national canvassing.
This will be the third change in the House membership due to electoral protests.
In January, Lord Alan Jay Velasco took over the seat of Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako-Reyes after the Supreme Court upheld her disqualification for not being a Filipino citizen. Velasco is the son of the Supreme Court associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the HRET and former deputy speaker Raul Daza to comment on the petitions filed by Abayon, questioning his ouster from his post.
Daza, a reelectionist candidate of the ruling Liberal Party, lost to Abayon of the Nacionalista Party by 52 votes in the 2013 congressional race for the province’s 1st district, which covers the capital Catarman and 13 other towns.
In his protest, Daza questioned the election results in 25 clustered precincts in six towns. Abayon filed a counterprotest, contesting results in all precincts. Both camps accused each other of vote-buying, fraud and intimidation of voters.
In October 2014, a recount of the precincts contested by Daza resulted in both candidates getting additional votes, although Abayon still led by 125 votes.
Both camps then presented witnesses who traded accusations of terrorism during the 2013 elections. With a report from Jerome Aning