The members of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) have their hands full as early as the second day of the 16th Congress with 34 electoral protests filed.
According to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. the 34 cases include the protests against the proclamation of Quezon (4th District) Rep. Angelina Tan and Marinduque Rep. Regina Reyes.
“There are 34 electoral protests filed in the HRET, and that includes these two (Tan and Reyes). They remain in the official roster of the House pending the resolution of the protests against them in the HRET,” Belmonte said in an interview.
“We do hope that that these will be judiciously acted upon by the HRET,” Belmonte added.
The protest against Tan was filed by Wigberto “Toby” Tañada Jr., the brother of former Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III while Reyes’ was filed a taxpayer on the ground that she is an American citizen and not illegible to seat in Congress. Her opponent is former Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.
Velasco is reportedly going to be a member of the HRET the composition which include three associate justices of the Supreme Court and nine members of House of Representatives.
Belmonte said that the House is yet to complete the names of those who are going to sit in the tribunal.
“The members of the HRET are yet to be completed because various groups have to be there. We already have some people and we will announce them as soon as the roster is complete,” Belmonte said.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), in a ruling, has disqualified Tan and Reyes. It was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
But House leaders, including Belmonte and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, maintained that the Comelec and the Supreme Court have no jurisdiction over Tan and Reyes’ cases. Belmonte and Gonzales maintained that the cases should be resolved by the HRET, a body created by the Constitution to exclusively hear cases involving members of the House of Representatives.
The House leaders stressed that both Tan and Reyes have been proclaimed as members of the House and as such should be within the jurisdiction of the HRET.
The lawmakers are of the belief that the Comelec and the Supreme Court had abused its powers in deciding on the cases of Tan and Reyes. The camp of Reyes, also said that the Supreme Court decision in her case was based on a mere blog alleging that she is an American citizen.