Who's the real congressman of Northern Samar?

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr confirmed on Tuesday, May 31, that Harlin Abayon is the duly-elected representative of Northern Samar.

On Monday, Congress’ session for the proclamation of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President-elect Leni Robredo was interrupted when Abayon protested that he was not included in the roll call of House members during the official canvassing of votes that started Wednesday last week.

Belmonte, in a news briefing on Tuesday, explained that Abayon was left out because they had not received a formal copy of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that favored him in the electoral protest against his 2013 rival Raul Daza. 

Abayon won the 2013 congressional election, but Daza filed a protest with the House Electoral Tribunal, seeking to annul the votes in some clustered precincts because of alleged electoral fraud.

The HRET ruled in favor of Daza, but it was reversed by the High Court in early May.

“The House Electoral Tribunal decided against him (Abayon) and that decision became final because he failed to get a restraining order from the Supreme Court.  But later on, in the course of the campaign, we found out by reading the newspaper, so the Supreme Court had actually reversed us,” Belmonte explained.

WATCH: Rep. Harlin Abayon of N Samar protests for not being called during Congress roll call https://t.co/RxAg25y6JK https://t.co/NspdaEwZog — Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) May 30, 2016

Can Abayon take his oath?

As long as the SC can serve the House the official copy of the decision, Belmonte said that they can administer Abayon's second oath taking on Monday, June 6, which is also their last day of session.

“We will adjourn on Monday, so that means to say, if we are going to adjourn on Monday, we are also going to convene on Monday. If we have the copy of the Supreme Court decision in the two hours that he is convened with us, [then] I will administer the oath to him,” said the House leader in a mix of English and Filipino.

But in case they do not receive a copy on their last day of session, Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Abayon may still be reinstalled in the remaining days of Congress until the official change of administration on June 30.

“Kung halimbawa na mag-sine die na kami sa Monday tapos officially communicated sa amin iyong Tuesday, then si Daza will be dropped from the roll and papalitan ulit ni Abayon. So, Abayon will be the Congressman,” Gonzales said.

(If in case we adjourned on Monday and SC officially communicated with us on Tuesday, then Daza will be dropped from the rolle and we will reinstall Abayon.) – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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