House leadership drops Rep. De Vera from rolls

Published November 19, 2018, 8:57 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Ben Rosario

The leadership of the House of Representatives on Monday night dropped from the roll of members ABS Party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera barely two months after being assured that he is secured in his post.

De Vera decried the move as both “very illegal and unconstitutional,” pointing out that under the 1987 Constitution it is only the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) that has the authority to remove him as congressman.

De Vera vowed to question the House action before the Supreme Court.

In a manifestation on the floor, Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya said the chamber was in a receipt of Comelec En Banc Resolution 18-0842 on its action on the ABS board resolution removing De Vera and appointing Ulysess G. Garces as his replacement in the Lower House.

Andaya said the resolution “states pertinently” that it is within the House’s jurisdiction to act on the ABS party-list board resolution.

According to Andaya, Director Maria Norma S. Tangaro-Casingal of the Comelec Law Department informed the House leadership that ABS partylist won in the May 9, 2016 elections and entitled to occupy one seat in the Lower House.

“In view of the foregoing, may I request that the secretary general be instructed to drop from the roll of members of the House of Representatives Rep. Eugene Michael B. de Vera and allow the nominee-next-in line of the partylist, the Honorable Ulysses G. Garces, to take his oath as member of the House of Representatives of the partylist,” Andaya declared on the floor.

Deputy Speaker and Surigaodel Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, who was presiding over the session, immediately acknowledged the manifestation and instructed the secretary general to comply.

This was the second attempt by the House leadership to remove De Vera as House member.

Last October, a bid to oust him was dropped when Arroyo met with leaders of the House Party-list Coalition, headed by Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. RodelBatocabe, and reportedly agreed to act only on the ouster of a sitting member upon a final and executory decision of the HRET.

De Vera said his removal without HRET ruling places all congressmen at risk of being removed at the mere whim of the Lower House leadership.

Citing SC decision on the ouster case against Ating Koop Party-list Rep. Isidro Lico, De Vera said it was clear that the High Court declared that only the HRET may remove a sitting congressman.

So far, no HRET case has been filed against De Vera, who joined the group of former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez immediately after his replacement, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was elected House leader last July.

De Vera has filed an SC petition questioning the leadership of Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, saying Suarez was disqualified from occupying the post because he voted for Arroyo as the speaker.

Citing House rules, De Vera said no congressman can be recognized minority leader if he or she voted for the eventual speaker during a voting for speakership.