Former partylist rep faces Comelec case over 'political turncoatism'

Jauhn Etinne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2021 11:17 PM | Updated as of Dec 27 2021 06:42 PM

Photo from Ong's Facebook page.
Former Ang Probinsyano Rep. Ronnie Ong is facing a case before the Commission on Elections over alleged "political turncoatism." Photo from Ong's Facebook page.

MANILA (UPDATED) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is being urged to cancel the candidacy of "former" Ang Probinsyano Rep. Ronnie Ong, who is now seeking a House seat under another party-list group, over alleged material misrepresentation and "political turncoatism."

Ong is one of the 2 representatives of Ang Probinsyano who won a seat in the 2019 elections. He left his post to run under a different party-list group for the May 2022 elections. 

In a petition filed last Nov. 29 by Mark Anthony Rosales, the Comelec was asked to cancel the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) of Ong as first nominee of Alliance of Public Transport Organization (AP) party-list because he allegedly lied in the said document.

Ong's CONA for AP party-list was sworn to Nov. 12, 2021.

The petitioner claimed Ong violated Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List System Act—particularly its provisions that set the deadline on switching political and sectoral affiliations 6 months before an election—when he allegedly failed to vacate his post as Ang Probinsyano representative before Nov. 9, 2021.

The House of Representatives Secretary General confirmed to petitioner that Ong was still "incumbent member of 18th Congress" as late as Nov. 22.

"It is clear that respondent is still part of party Ang Probinsyano as of Nov. 23, 2021... [H]aving failed to completely sever his links with Ang Probinsyano... before Nov. 9, 2021 renders him ineligible for nomination under AP party-list," petitioner argued.

Petitioner also called out the disparity between the sectors Ang Probinsyano and AP seek to represent.

"AP represents the sector of transportation workers, while Ang Probinsyano represents probinsyanos. These sectors are entirely distinct, unrelated, and unconnected."

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Ong called the petition "nuisance" orchestrated by Ang Probinsyano, his former party-list. 

"Honestly wala namang substance yan... I think it's a nuisance case," he said, claiming he resigned as House representative "before November 8."

"I think it's being filed by my former party-list," he added. 

Ong said his lawyers are handling the case, but insisted "we did everything by the law."

ANG PROBINSYANO REACTS

Ang Probinsyano denied it was behind the Comelec case against Ong. 

"We would like to clarify that Ang Probinsyano has no connection with the pending petition for cancellation of CONA of Rep. Ong. In fact, we only knew about the matter after it was made public online," the party-list's spokesman Jobar Buenagua told ABS-CBN News.

Buenagua also claimed Ong is still incumbent, contrary to the latter's claim that he had already resigned. 

"We would like to correct that he is not a former representative but still an incumbent congressman to date under Ang Probinsyano... Based on the most recent journal of the HOR, he is still in the roll and enjoying the privileges of a congressman," Buenagua said. 

Buenagua said they have a request pending before Comelec to allow their third nominee to be seated and force Ong out of his post "since to date he never vacated his seat."

Ang Probinsyano was among the top party-list groups in the 2019 midterm elections, thanks to its name and endorser Coco Martin.

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