BENHUR Salimbangon is no longer in the list of congressmen at the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Prospero Nograles admitted in a court document that Salimbangon’s name was deleted from the payroll of legislators. There was no mention, though, if Celestino “Tining” Martinez III was already recorded as fourth district representative.

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Martinez filed a case of mandamus with damages and contempt of court against Nograles and House of Representatives secretary general Marilyn Barua-Yap before the Supreme Court (SC).

The SC ordered Nograles and Yap to comment on the case.

Represented by Atty. Leonardo Palicte III, Nograles and Yap stated in their comment that the case is moot and academic because Salimbangon’s name was no longer in the attendance sheet during the session last Feb. 2 and in the payroll.

Nograles and Yap said they already complied with the SC resolution dated Feb. 2. That resolution said an entry of judgment was made that declared Martinez the rightful

fourth district representative, by close to 5,000 votes.

A journal of the House of Representatives was attached to the comment, showing that Salimbangon’s name was no longer on the list of congressmen who responded

during the roll call last Feb. 3, 2010.

Lourdes Jayme, officer-in-charge of the accounting service, issued a certification last March 11, which read, “This is to certify that starting February 2010, Salimbangon was deleted from the House members’ payroll.”

Another certification also stated that starting this month, Salimbangon’s staff members were also deleted from the House payroll.

Named staff members were Joje Decal, chief political affairs officer and political affairs officers Gloria Lago, Jamafe Zamora, Daphne Marie Salimbangon, Jose Ryan Paule and Dennis Ybañez.

Turnover

As a rule in the House, staff members have at least a month’s extension to prepare the office for turnover to the next representative.

With these explanations, Nograles and Yap believe that the petition for mandamus, a case filed for alleged neglect of performance of an act specified by law, was no longer needed.

“The House of Representatives has not neglected or unlawfully excluded petitioner from the use and enjoyment of his right of office,” the comment read.

Nograles and Yap explained that the fact that they have received Martinez’s kit, containing documents for the appointment of his staff members, means the former Bogo City mayor was allowed to enjoy his privileges as congressman.

“Where the issues have become moot and academic, there is no justiciable controversy, thereby rendering the resolution of the same of no practical use or value,” the comment also read.

Palicte asked that the case filed against his clients be dismissed for lack of factual and legal basis.

Sun.Star Cebu tried to reach Salimbangon for comment but to no avail. (JGA)