Arroyo son retains party-list position

02/28/2011 -THE High Court has affirmed its December 2010 ruling dismissing all three petitions seeking the disqualification of former presidential son Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo as nominee of a party-list group in the May 2010 polls.

In a two-page resolution, the Supreme Court (SC) en banc denied with finality for being a prohibited pleading the motion filed by Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño seeking an extension of time to file his motion for reconsideration of the Court's December 7, 2010 ruling.

Such denial of motion for extension of time was in line with the SC's resolution dated April 7, 1988 that no motion for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration shall be granted to any party.

Aside from Casiño, other petitioners in the suit were Walden Bello and Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan party-list, and defeated senatorial candidates Liza Maza and Saturnino Ocampo.

The SC, in its assailed December 2010 decision, unanimously held that the Commission on Elections (Comelec), where the petitions for Arroyo's disqualification were originally lodged, had lost jurisdiction over the case since his proclamation last July 21 as duly elected representative of the Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP).

Thus, any election contests pertaining to his nomination should be addressed by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, the SC ruled.

"We hold that the Court has no jurisdiction over the present petitions and that the HRET now has the exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and rule upon Arroyo's qualifications as a member of the House of Representatives," the SC said.

The Court also said that Bello and Rosales' petition was premature while the two other petitions were dismissed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

The petitioners, it added, failed to exhaust all the legal remedies available to them before filing the petition for mandamus in Court, which, in the first place, is not the correct remedy in this case as the immediately applicable remedy is a petition for disqualification or cancellation of registration with the Comelec, instead of writing a letter asking the poll body to comply with Section 10 of Resolution 8807.

This provision prescribed the rules of procedure applicable to petitions to disqualify a party-list nominee for the May 10, 2010 elections. It also mandates the Comelec to motu propio effect the disqualification of party-list nominees who violate its rules and regulations.

Bello and Rosales earlier claimed that AGP violated Section 6 of Comelec Resolution 8807, which requires a party-list group and the nominees to submit documentary evidence to prove that the nominees truly belong to the marginalized and underrepresented section.

The provision also states that the Comelec Law Department shall require party-list groups and nominees to make the required documentary submissions not later than three days from the last day of filing of the list of nominees.

The Bayan Muna petitioners, however, alleged in their petition that Arroyo cannot be considered a member of the marginalized sector of which is wanted to represent in Congress that of tricycle drivers and security guards, because he is not only a member of the First Family but was also an incumbent member of the House at that time.

Arroyo was likewise the chairman of the House's energy committee and a key member of several other committees, namely: natural resources, aquaculture, fisheries resources, ethics and privileges, justice, national defense and security, public works and highways, transportation and ways and means. (Sun Star)

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