MARK JIMENEZ LOSES HOUSE SEAT   

Manila, March 7, 2003 -- Rep. Mario Crespo, also known as Mark Jimenez, lost his seat yesterday when the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) ruled that he was not qualified to run on the ground of lack of residence.

The tribunal, in a 7 to 2 vote, said that Jimenez claimed that he had resided at No. 3445 Magistrado Torres St. in Sta. Mesa for eight years at the time of the May 2001 election. But the tribunal said it had sufficient proof that his "real domicile" was No. 6 Intsia Road, South Forbes Park, Makati City.

Jimenez, who is now in Florida to face trial on several criminal charges including illegal contributions, wire fraud and tax evasion, said he had asked his lawyers to go through the process of appeal.

Voting against Jimenez were Supreme Court Associate Justices Vicente Mendoza, Leonardo Quisumbing and Reynato Puno, who is the HRET chairman; Reps. Douglas Cagas, Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, Oscar Rodriguez and Salacnib Baterina.

Magtanggol Gunigundo and Joaquin Chipeco dissented.

Dr. Bienvenido Abante and lawyer Prudencio Jalandoni had questioned the qualifications of Jimenez to run.

A barangay clearance and a copy of a local census submitted by Jimenez' lawyers purportedly proving his residency in Sta. Mesa were rejected by the HRET on the ground that the respondent admitted in statements to the media and in a sworn affidavit that the Forbes Park mansion was his residence.

The unseating of Jimenez was described as a "continuing harassment...a violation of the true will of the electorate..." by Francis Ver, Jimenez' chief of staff.

Ver said Jimenez is now being harassed because of his extortion accusations former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez.

A quo warranto vote-buying case filed by former Manila Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo, who lost to Jimenez in the last election, was dismissed by the tribunal as outside its domain.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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