Why lawmaker wants SC justices impeached

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 09 2014 11:47 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2014 07:47 AM

Umali says politics behind SC decision in Reyes case

MANILA -- Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali believes there was politics involved when the Supreme Court affirmed the disqualification of Marinduque Rep. Regina Reyes from Congress due to citizenship issues.

Umali, vice chairman of the House of Representatives justice committee, said the high court overstepped its power and betrayed public trust when it decided in favor of Lord Allan Velasco, Reyes' runner-up in the May 2013 elections.

Velasco is the son of one of the senior justices in SC, Presbitero Velasco.

Umali also slammed the SC for its alleged "flip-flopping" on decisions, noting a similar case to Reyes' -- that of Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, wherein the high court ruled differently and recognized the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

"So we have the same court on two separate cases deciding differently on the same day, October 22, 2013. So this really puts a lot of question on how the Supreme Court resolves cases especially when one of its members even cautioned the Supreme Court not to rush judgement on the Regina Reyes case because of the benefit it will give to one of the sitting magistrates," he said in an interview with ANC's Top Story.

"I cannot see why they will have different decisions in two analogous cases. The only difference really is that the beneficiary of this decision in the Reyes case is a son of one of the magistrates," he added.

For now, Umali said the House continues to recognize Reyes, not Velasco, as the congresswoman of Marinduque.

Impeachment complaint

Umali said he is determined to file an impeachment complaint against the justices who voted in favor of giving the congressional seat to Velasco.

But he said he has yet to decide on who among the five justices will be included in the impeachment complaint.

At least 169 congressmen have signed a resolution he authored asserting the jurisdiction of the HRET in deciding on electoral contests.

Umali said he is hoping that his colleagues will also stand by him when he files the impeachment complaint.

Meanwhile, University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez said the impeachment complaint may help elevate the "maturity" and "morality" of the judicial and legislative bodies.

"I think it's welcome on one aspect because this is a test of what we call the check and balance based on the separation of powers. So maganda yan," Valdez said.