July 23, 2010
MANILA (PinoyNews) – El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde may yet join the House of Representatives sessions soon as party-list representative. This as the Commission on Elections set aside a petition to disqualify Velarde as Buhay Hayaang Umusbong (Buhay) partylist representative, paving the way to his proclamation. Velarde will thus join personalities in Congress like former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of Pampanga, former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos of Ilocos Norte, actress Lani Mercado of Cavite and Lucy Torres Gomez of Leyte, and world boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao of Sarangani.
This developed as outgoing Rep. Jose Miguel Arroyo will rejoin the House as party-list representative of Ang Galing Pinoy while former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes may yet join also as 1-UTAK party-list representative. In a five-page resolution, the Comelec second division, headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer dismissed the petition for lack of merit filed by Rolando Layug last April.
The decision disagreed with the claim of the petitioner that the charismatic leader should be disqualified as one of the nominees of the group as the law prevents the religious sector from participating in the partylist polls. “There is not only preponderance of evidence but proof beyond reasonable doubt establishing, confirming and vindicating this honorable commission’s finding that Buhay is an extension of the El Shaddai and is illegally and unconstitutionally representing the religious sector,” the resolution said.
Velarde is the fifth nominee of the Buhay partylist. The other nominees are: Velarde’s son Michael, Solar Entertainment big boss William Irwin C. Tieng, businessman Ignacio B. Gimenez and Bulacan Rep. Wilfrido Buyson Villarama. Article 6, Section 5 of the Constitution states that elected partylist representatives can be elected from other sectors “except the religious sector”. Section 6 of the Partylist System Act also adds that registration of a partylist may be canceled if it is found to be a religious sect or organization. But the second division “agreed with respondents that the submission of the name of respondent Velarde as nominee does not automatically convert respondent uhay into a religious organization simply because he happens to be a spiritual leader. To find otherwise would not only be illogical, but more importantly, it would amount to an infringement on the right of res p o n d e n t Velarde, a qualified citizen, to run for public office or be endorsed as nominees of party list organizations.”
Aside from Layug’s petition, there was another petition filed against Buhay partylist but it was “dismissed outright” due to late filing. Buhay was among the eight partylist organizations whose proclamation was deferred last May 31 pending petitions to cancel their registrations. The seven other groups were Ako Bicol Political Party (AKO BICOL), First Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-CARE), Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC), LPG Marketers Association, Inc. (LPGMA), Ang Asosasyon Sang Mangunguma Nga Bisaya-Owa Mangunguma, Inc. (MBIS-OWA), Association Of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC), and Alliance For Nationalism And Democracy (ANAD).