Reyes asks SC: Make me 1-UTAK first nominee

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 02 2010 01:41 AM | Updated as of Oct 02 2010 09:41 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reinstate him as the first nominee of party-list group 1-United Transport Coalition (1-UTAK) in the House of Representatives.

In a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed before the high court on Thursday, Reyes also asked for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order to prevent the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from implementing its consolidated en banc resolution on September 21, 2010 disqualifying Reyes from representing 1-UTAK in Congress, in the pendency of the case at the SC.

In his 34-page petition, Reyes claimed that the Comelec was wrong to disqualify him as the poll body is only empowered by Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List System Act to "remove or cancel the registration of party-list groups," but not to disqualify nominees.

Reyes also maintained that the issue is a constitutional one, which includes issues on the scope and extent of jurisdiction of both the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) "once a party-list group has already been proclaimed."

The petition states this is a case of first impression, and accuses the COMELEC of deviating from rulings of the Supreme Court.

The petition cited the case of Rasul vs COMELEC where the Court ruled that "when a candidate has already been proclaimed winner in the congressional elections, the remedy of petitioner is to file an electoral protest with the Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives."

Because of this jurisprudence, Reyes' petition states that the general rule is that once the winning congressional candidate has been proclaimed, the remedy of the losing candidate is to file an election protest or a quo warranto, as the case may be, in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

"The general rule is, where the candidate has been proclaimed member of the House of Representatives, the [Comelec] is divested of jurisdiction and all questions relating to the election, returns, and qualification of such candidate belongs to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal," Reyes said in his petition, quoting the high court's decision in the Rasul vs. Comelec case promulgated August 24, 1999.

He also questioned why Juan Miguel M. Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was duly confirmed as representative of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list, along with Teodorico Haresco and Eugenio Jose Lacson for Ang Kasangga party-list, despite them being "moneyed, influential and prominent persons that do not belong to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors which they seek to represent in Congress."

Reyes said the Comelec should have ruled in his favor because of its ruling in the cases of Messrs. Haresco, Lacson, and Arroyo.

"Thus, if Haresco, Lacson, and Arroyo are qualified to be nominees for the sectors they represent despite their respective statures, nominee Reyes should not be denied the same treatment under the equal protection clause of the Constitution," the petition argued.

1-UTAK won one seat in the House of Representatives. This result was affirmed with a Comelec resolution issued on July 7. Mr. Reyes took his oath as the representative of the group the next day.

However, the Comelec en banc resolution on Sept. 21 disqualified him from holding office.