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It's final: SC upholds disqualification of Marinduque solon


(Updated 4:29 p.m.) Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako-Reyes should have been disqualified in last May's congressional race.
 
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled with finality to deny Reyes' second motion for reconsideration that sought to reverse the high court's earlier ruling upholding her disqualification.
 
"The court denied the second motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner. The decision of the court is now final," said SC Public Information Office chief and spokesman Theodore Te.
 
In its original ruling, the SC magistrates voted 7-4-3 to dismiss a petition for certiorari filed by Reyes, contesting her disqualification by the Commission on Elections.
 
The high court ruled the Comelec did not exercise grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified Reyes for being an American citizen.
 
Reyes was still able to participate in the May 13 mid-term elections because at the time, her disqualification was not yet final.
 
The following day, on May 14, the poll body – in a four-page resolution – junked Reyes' motion for reconsideration, rendering her disqualification final.
 
Reyes' camp ended up filing a motion for reconsideration twice.
 
In disqualifying Reyes, the Comelec en banc ordered the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) of Marinduque to proclaim Lord Allan Jay Velasco, son of SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, as the winning representative in the province’s lone district.
 
The older Belasco has since inhibited himself from the case.
 
“The May 18 proclamation of the respondent, Regina Ongsiako Reyes, is declared null and void and without any legal force and effect,” the Comelec said.
 
Voting 5-2, the Comelec en banc said Reyes lacked the one-year residency required for an elected official. In March, the Comelec First Division canceled her certificate of candidacy on the grounds that she is an American citizen.
 
Reyes had repeatedly denied that she's an American citizen. She also accused her rival's father, Justice Velasco, of wielding his influence following a high court ruling favoring Reyes' earlier disqualification by the Comelec.
 
Reyes ended up still being proclaimed as the winning candidate and took her oath after that. Lord Allan tried contesting this, but the Comelec junked his plea, saying the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has already acquired jurisdiction over the case.

No effect on HRET case?


Reacting to the latest SC ruling, Reyes' legal counsel, Harry Roque Jr., said he is confident the decision would not affect the pending case with the HRET.
 
Roque said the SC ruling was "unusual and abandoned a long line of jurisprudence and it benefits a son of a sitting justice."
 
"This does not disturb the HRET case because it upheld the Comelec decision on the issue of disqualification. There has been a proclamation and we are confident the HRET will rule in favor of the qualification of Reyes," Roque said.
 
"There is no constitutional crisis because those who questioned did not implead the House of Representatives so the SC decision is not binding," he added. — Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMA News