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Lawyer wants An Waray solon removed from House roster

A lawyer on Wednesday questioned the inclusion of An Waray party-list Rep. Victoria Isabel Noel in the House of Representatives' roster despite not being proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“It is elementary procedure in election law that only candidates (or in the case of party-list groups, nominees) who have been officially proclaimed and issued a Certificate of Proclamation can take his or her oath and assume the office of a representative of the House,” said lawyer Brigido Dulay in a letter addressed to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

“It is our humble and legal opinion that without the necessary Certificate of Proclamation from the Comelec en banc, Ms. Noel has no right to sit and act as a member of the legislature,” he added.

According to Dulay, who is also a radio commentator, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes admitted in a radio program that the poll body has not issued a Certificate of Proclamation to Noel, in compliance with a Supreme Court order to reserve seats due to a pending case involving Abang Lingkod party-list.

The Supreme Court earlier ruled that Abang Lingkod, a party-list group that has been disqualified by the Comelec for allegedly using digitally altered photographs to prove that it represents a marginalized sector, should not have been barred from running in the May 2013 elections.

Abang Lingkod was one of the winning party-lists in the elections.

Brillantes, however, said they won’t proclaim Abang Lingkod yet but file a motion for reconsideration.

In his letter, Dulay quoted Brillantes as saying that the House filled the seat meant for the Abang Lingkod and gave it to An Waray instead.

He then asked Belmonte to order the dropping of Noel's name as a member of the chamber and asked her to return all fund disbursements made to her office “since her position is void from the start.”

Belmonte said the House will study Dulay’s letter, since all party-list representatives need to be proclaimed by the Comelec.

“We will study Atty. Dulay's letter. For all party-list representative, [the] requirement is proclamation of party-list as duly elected party-list with number of seats won, and [the] certification of the Comelec of names or the list of nominees, or an individual certificate of proclamation as party list designate,” he said in a text message. — Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK, GMA News