MANILA, Philippines (Updated) - Leyte 4th district Rep Lucy Torres-Gomez could be on her way out before her term ends, after the Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 19, declared that her substitution for her husband Richard Gomez in the 2010 election was invalid.
Her camp will file a motion for reconsideration, but with only 2 months left before the elections and 3 months before her term ends, what will happen to her should the decision become final and executory?
Jeffrey Baquiran, director of the House of Representatives' Committee on Rules and Att Annalou Nachura of the House Legal Affairs Bureau, tell us what usually happens in such cases.
Will Rep Torres-Gomez be required to return pork barrel allocations and salaries she received as a lawmaker?
Baquiran: No. The effect of the decision with regard to her salary and all that will be forward-moving. It will only cover the period when she was ordered to vacate her post, when it was declared that she has to be replaced. Projects, especially those that are in the implementation stage, that was funded using her PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) will also continue because the funds were not allocated to her but to the district.
Who will replace her?
Baquiran: In cases such as this, the person who lost is usually the one who files an electoral case. The person who will replace the unseated congressman will depend on the result of the case. It's usually indicated in the decision. It's usually the person who gets the 2nd highest vote. In this case, it should be the person who was qualified to run who got the highest number of votes.
Nachura: The problem is the Supreme Court hasn't uploaded the full copy of the decision. We just know the summary so we don't exactly know until we see a copy of the decision. There are also cases when even if the person who got the highest number of votes was disqualified, the 2nd placer doesn't assume the position. It really depends because the cases are different.
(Note: Gomez's opponents Eufrocino Codilla Jr. of Lakas-Kampi and independent candidate Silverio Tagolino got 76,549 votes and 493 votes, respectively. The March 19 order of the Supreme Court involves a quo warranto petition filed by Tagolino. Codilla also filed a protest with the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. It was denied.)
Or will a caretaker be appointed if the decision says that the 2nd placer may not automatically assume the post?
Nachura: For a person to assume a post, there has to be a clear declaration. He needs to present his credentials. He needs to take oath before the plenary. For all practical purposes, [there is no point in appointing a caretaker] because session is already adjourned. When they come back, it will only be to adjourn the session.
Will her term be counted as one full-term?
Baquiran: No. There have been cases when the winner of the post is only declared in the last day of session. As long as she vacates her post and somebody replaces her before the end of the term, which is on June 30, it will not be counted as a term.
What if the SC releases its decision after June 30?
Nachura: We can't say for sure. I think it will be a fresh term… that's what I'm getting from the summary. There's a discussion there about the difference between a disqualified candidate a candidate whose COC has been cancelled. There's only limited information from the summary so we can't say for sure. - Rappler.com