FORMER Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes is not as lucky as former presidential son Mikey Arroyo after being replaced as the nominee of his party-list group 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-Utak).

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said the transport group filed a petition Friday asking the poll body to award the certificate of proclamation to its third nominee, Homero Mercado, after its second nominee declined the position.

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The second nominee is Vigor Mendoza, who occupied the post last 14th Congress. He however declined his nomination in order to meet professional commitments.

“According to the petition, the group has already informed Reyes and he did not object to the decision,” Jimenez told Sun.Star.

The petition, signed by the party-list's executive committee, however failed to provide a consent letter from Reyes, which the poll body requires.

Therefore, Mercado cannot assume his post when Congress opens on Monday without the consent letter from Reyes.

Section 8 of Republic Act 7941 or the Party-list System Act states: "No change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the Comelec except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination, becomes incapacitated in which case the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list."

The poll body's second division earlier voted 2-1 in favor of the former Energy chief in the disqualification case filed against him by militant groups.

Former party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and Liza Maza of Gabriela and transport group Pinag-Isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) filed the disqualification case against Reyes, saying he is not a bona fide member of 1-Utak, which represents drivers of jeeps, buses, tricycles, taxis, trucks and FX vans, operators and commuters.

Maza and party-list Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela) and Walden Bello (Akbayan) lauded the decision of 1-Utak, saying that Reyes was never a representative of the transport sector.

“That's good because in the first place he is not marginalized and he does not belong to the jeepney drivers or transport sector that 1-Utak is supposedly representing," Maza told Sun.Star.

“May utak din pala ang 1-Utak. Dapat talaga siyang palitan. His being a nominee is not only an insult to the party-list system but a disgrace to the transport sector," Ilagan added.

Reyes, according to Bello, was reportedly claiming an office in the Batasan Pambansa complex when he visited House of Representatives Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap Thursday afternoon. Reyes declined to entertain questions from the media after he talked to Yap.

Earlier this week, the Comelec en banc with a voting of 4-2-1 allowed Mikey Arroyo to sit for Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) party-list, which seeks to represent security guards, tricycle drivers and the jobless in Congress.

AGP's disqualification case was appealed before the Supreme Court. Maza said AGP should also replace Arroyo if it claims to be a genuine party.

Immediate representation

For its part, 1-Utak said the decision to drop Reyes was arrived at since they want their party to be represented in Congress immediately.

In a three-page urgent petition and manifestation, Donald Diaz, counsel for the party has informed the Comelec that they are withdrawing the nomination of Reyes, based on Resolution No. 2010-12 of the party.

“Whereas, Congress is about to convene its session on July 26, 2010, and that up to now, Comelec has yet to issue a certificate of proclamation attesting as to who among the nominees of 1-UTAK should sit in Congress as the disqualification case against its first nominee is still pending,” said the Resolution.

It noted that they need their nominee to occupy the seat so that they will not upset the ones who supported them in the last May 10 polls.

“Whereas, it is important that 1-UTAK is represented in Congress so as not frustrate the will of the people who voted for it,” the Resolution added.

The petition also said that Reyes was informed about their move. “The first (1st) nominee has been advised of this decision to withdraw nomination and has agreed to the filing of the same.”

For his part, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the appeal will be studied by the Law Department, after which it will submit a recommendation for approval of the Comelec en banc.

He noted that it is impossible for the nominee to be seated on Monday, July 26, in time for the Sona of President Aquino, since there is no more time, as the next en banc session is on Tuesday (July 27).

“If he wants to attend, I think merely as a guest and not as the representative of 1-Utak during the Sona this Monday,” he added. (Kathrina Alvarez/FP/Sunnex)