MANILA, Philippines – The judiciary's tug of war with the legislative branch continues.
On Tuesday, February 25, former Marinduque Representative Llord Allan Jay Velasco petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) to order House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr to administer his oath as the representative of the heart-shaped province's lone district.
The SC earlier issued a decision disqualifying Velasco's winning political rival in the 2013 congressional polls for failing to meet residency and citizenship requirements. The winning candidate, Regina Reyes, said the SC ruling was unduly influenced by Velasco's father Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr.
The elder Velasco, however, inhibited himself from the case.
In his petition to the High Court filed Tuesday, congressional contender Velasco also asked the SC to order House of Representatives Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap to delete Reyes' name from the roster of the House, and instead put his.
He also appealed to the SC to order Reyes to vacate the post. This is in addition to an appeal for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction on Reyes' performance of duties as Marinduque representative.
"…respondent Reyes, instead of vacating the office and giving due respect to the lawful and valid decision of the Honorable Court, still refuses to honor the same and illegally occupies the office which, based on the aforementioned Resolutions, she is not allowed to hold," Velasco wrote the High Tribunal.
"Worse, respondent Reyes continues to cling unto the said office, obtaining salaries, enjoying the prerogatives of the position and receiving public funds without any guise of validity or legality," he added.
House Electoral Tribunal
The SC ruling on the disqualification of Regina Reyes as Marinduque representative runs counter to the position taken by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET). (READ: Poll protests: Is the Supreme Court clipping HRET's powers?)
The HRET posits that a winning congressional candidate becomes a House member upon declaration as a winner by the canvassing board, while the SC has ruled that the winning candidate first has to take his or her oath before the Speaker in an open session.
The HRET – following the High Court's disqualification of Reyes – maintained that it is the “sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members.” It refused to install Velasco in Congress.
Velasco maintains that Speaker Belmonte Jr has the ministerial duty to administer his oath as a "lawfully and rightfully adjudicated" member of the House. – Rappler.com