House, SC clash feared over possible Alvarez disbarment case
Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque warned against the disbarment of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez over an extramarital affair, which could lead to a collision between the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives.
In a statement Sunday, Roque said the Supreme Court had disbarred lawyers for having relationships outside marriage but this should not be the case for Alvarez, who has admitted having a girlfriend.
Roque said Alvarez’s disbarment could pit the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, which are co-equal branches of government.
This could lead the lower house to initiate impeachment moves against Supreme Court justices, Roque said. The 1987 Constitution authorizes the lower house to initiate impeachment proceedings against impeachable officers like Supreme Court magistrates.
“The Supreme Court (SC) has repeatedly disbarred lawyers in the past due to immoral conduct. However, it is my opinion that Speaker Alvarez should not be disbarred as this may lead the SC to a confrontation with a co-equal branch of government, which in turn may result in the possible impeachment of some of the justices,” Roque said.
Roque said regardless of the issue of morality, Alvarez as Speaker of the House could bring out the numbers for impeachment.
“Immoral or not, the Office of the Speaker still commands numbers for impeachment,” Roque said.
Alvarez recently got flak for admitting his affair with Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio while no longer talking with his wife Emelita Alvarez.
His admission also challenged his moral high ground when he criticized Senator Leila de Lima, a vocal administration critic, for her affair with her driver accused of being her bagman in the Bilibid drug trade.
“Kailangang ipakita sa taumbayan kung anong klaseng tao ito, ano ang kanyang karakter (We have to show the people what kind of person she is, what her character is),” Alvarez said of De Lima, who faced a House probe on the drug trade allegations.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself branded De Lima as “immoral” for having a relationship with her driver. Alvarez denied criticizing De Lima for her affairs.
The affair has also raised the issue of double standard – tolerance of men’s extramarital affairs while branding as immoral a woman having a relationship outside marriage.
Malacanañg has denied that there is double standard in Alvarez’s admission of the affair, noting that the accusations against De Lima are related to the alleged drug trade.
The Speaker’s affair gained public attention after he filed a graft complaint against his friend-turned-foe Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. over the latter’s banana firm’s allegedly disadvantageous contract with government.
He sued Floirendo amid reports that their girlfriends had had a spat. Floirendo’s partner Cathy Binag confirmed an altercation with Vicencio during last year’s Masskara Festival in Bacolod city.
The Speaker has dared his critics to disbar him, saying many lawyers had girlfriends.
Roque himself faces legal woes in the House of Representatives after his party-list Kabayan ousted him as representative for his sexist remarks during the Bilibid drug probe involving De Lima. He has accused his fellow Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo of instigating the ouster plot against him.
Besides disbarment, public officials also face administrative liabilities and suspension for having an affair. Just recently, the Ombudsman suspended Mayor Denny Refol of Altavas, Aklan, for six months after he was found guilty of immoral conduct for fathering a child with another woman. CBB/rga
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