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House spares party-list Rep. De Vera from being replaced

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House leadership spared embattled ABS party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera from being removed as a legislator after it has reportedly decided to set aside for now any moves to unseat an incumbent party-list solon as result of in-fighting within the party.

In a meeting with the party-list coalition headed by Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe, former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to act only on the ouster of a sitting member upon a final and executory decision of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

“We are thankful that they (House leadership) listened to us and upheld the rule of law. Otherwise, all House members can be removed through a mere letter questioning their qualifications,” said Batocabe

The party-list solon from Bicol said the decision of the leadership, in effect, caused “the abandonment” of the requests of ABS party-list president Baby Pizarro to remove De Vera and the acceptance of his replacement as their group’s nominee to the Lower House.

Batocabe said congressmen, particularly partylist lawmakers, will no longer have to worry about being removed unless on orders of HRET or in compliance to the House Ethics Committee.

Last Monday evening, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. (Camarines Sur) initiated a motion to remove de Vera while deliberations for the proposed 2019 National Budget has been suspended.

Andaya’s motion was immediately opposed by LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty due to the supposed lack of quorum.

Ty explained that De Vera’s relationship with his partylist started to deteriorate after he filed petition before the Supreme Court questioning the authority of House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez (Quezon Province) despite initiating the successful July 23 House coup d’état that led to the elections of Mrs. Arroyo as the leader of the House of Representatives.

Legislators loyal to the previous House leadership under ousted Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez led by former Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas recognized De Vera as the duly constituted Minority Leader since Suarez himself voted for Arroyo, thus, he should be now part of the majority bloc.

But Suarez insisted that the he is still the leader of the duly constituted minority since only the position of the Speaker was declared vacant during the incident.

De Vera and Fariñas recently went to the high tribunal to question Suarez’s authority in minority bloc.

“By removing De Vera, the court petition will weaken, if not dismissed totally because the petitioner is no longer a congressman,” said Ty.