MANILA – Quezon City Rep. Sonny Belmonte on Friday said it will be Regina Ongsiako Reyes, not Lord Allan Velasco, who will be called during the roll call of members for the inaugural session of the 16th Congress on Monday.
The Supreme Court earlier upheld the Commission on Elections’ decision disqualifying Reyes from running for congresswoman of Marinduque due to issues about her citizenship. The decision benefits her rival, Lord Allan, who is the son of SC Associate Presbitero Velasco Jr.
For her part, Reyes said it is the House of Representatives electoral tribunal and not Comelec that should decide on her case.
Velasco wrote the House secretary general to show his proclamation and ask that he be allowed to assume the post of Marinduque representative after Reyes' proclamation was annulled by Comelec.
"Our own thinking at moment is proclamation of Reyes plus her subsequent taking of oath and so forth entitle her to be considered a member and that the case be decided by the HRET. It’s not only her case,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte said similar cases will be handled by the HRET.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker said he is confident he will be re-elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He also said many of the positions of the Lower House will be elected Monday during the inaugural session.
"I hope so. I think so. I think that the, I recall when I first went for Speaker in 2001 I found I was only 2 votes ahead of 50% plus one. Last year, I did better. Hopefully this year, I hope it will also be better with the day, the big day within 3 days of today,” he told reporters.
“We don’t have to solve everything by Monday. Within few days after Monday by the coming week we hope to be able to fill up virtually all positions in question,” he added.
Belmonte said the chairman of the House appropriations committee may be named in time for the submission of the 2014 budget proposal on Tuesday.
He hinted many of the chairmanships in the 15th Congress may have been unchanged.
Belmonte expects the headcount of the majority at 250-260.
Spend PDAF in own district
Belmonte said he prefers congressmen to spend their priority development assistance funds (PDAF) in their own district rather than give them to another district.
He said he has also talked to the Commission on Audit, which is auditing all PDAF disbursements, to check actual use and not necessarily zero in on personalities then show the results to the public.
Belmonte again thumbed down proposals to do away with the PDAF.