Lucy Torres to appeal ouster ruling

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- The camp of television personality and Leyte Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez was unfazed by the Supreme Court (SC) ruling removing her from the congressional seat, saying it will appeal the decision.

The SC ruled on Tuesday that Torres-Gomez had illegally substituted her husband, actor Richard Gomez, in the 2010 elections, favoring the writ of quo warranto (legal remedy to remove a person from public office) filed by losing congressional bet Silverio Tagolino, who got 493 votes against Torres-Gomez’s 101,250 votes in the fourth district of Leyte.

The television personality’s lawyer, Alex Avisado, said they will appeal the ruling once they receive a copy of the decision penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

He said the SC dismissed in July 2012 a similar petition filed by Torres-Gomez's rival Eufrocino Codilla Jr. against the ruling of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), which declared valid on March 22, 2012 her certificate of candidacy and the votes cast in her favor as substitute candidate.

"We humbly believe this is a serious and reversible error,” he said.

Avisado added that in the meantime, Torres-Gomez will continue to discharge her duties as the duly-elected representative of Leyte’s fourth district.

“We are confident that in the end, justice shall be served only to those who deserve,” Avisado told Sun.Star.

Those who voted for Torres-Gomez's removal were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Justices Martin Villarama, Jose Perez, Bienvenido Reyes, Marvic Leonen, and Bernabe.

Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Mariano del Castillo, Roberto Abad, and Jose Mendoza disagreed with the ruling, while Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin took no part because of their membership to the HRET.

The HRET upheld the lady lawmaker’s election twice but Tagolino raised the issue to the High Court, believing that her substitution was not valid since Richard’s certificate of candidacy was cancelled for failing to satisfy the one-year residency requirement for local bets.

This was reflected in the summary of the ruling sent to the media by SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te.

"Lucy Torres could not have validly substituted for Richard Gomez because he could not have been considered a candidate within the ambit of the Election Code because he was held ineligible for failure to comply the residency requirements. Thus absent valid substitution, Torres-Gomez could not have been considered a candidate," the Court said.

Torres-Gomez is seeking re-election, while her husband is running for mayor of Ormoc City this May. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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