CA justices to Alvarez: We’re doing our jobs, don’t be emotional
MANILA — We’re just doing our job.
This was the message of a Court of Appeals justice to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez after he threatened to disbar them and to abolish the appellate court for ordering the release of the six detained officials of the Ilocos Norte provincial government.
The House of Representatives has taken custody of the six after they were held in contempt for their alleged refusal to answer questions in a congressional inquiry into the supposed anomalous purchase of
P66.45-million worth of vehicles by the provincial government.
Interviewed by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Monday, Associate Justice Stephen Cruz reiterated that he and the two other members of the appellate court’s Special Fourth Division granted the habeas corpus petition of the six to determine the legality of their arrest.
Cruz faced the seven-member multisectoral body as part of the selection process for the next member of the Supreme Court.
Under questioning by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, he said the high court had previously ruled that persons who had filed a habeas corpus petition could be freed during the hearing of the case.
“If we falter because of some threats, then we would show our weakness as magistrates. As I have said, let justice be done though the heavens fall,” Cruz told the JBC.
“If we are wrong, they could always go up to the Supreme Court,” he said. “What we did, your honor, was our duty. We found that the writ should be issued.”
Along with Associate Justices Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela, Cruz granted the petition of the so-called “Ilocos Six” and directed Alvarez to explain why he should not be cited in contempt of court for his refusal to honor their decision.
The magistrate said he would welcome the filing of a disbarment case against them as it would help in threshing out the truth.
While he respected the separation of powers of the three branches of government, Cruz stressed that the appeals court was authorized to act on habeas corpus petitions.
“We want the (persons) to be presented to the court and the persons detaining them (for us) to determine whether it is legal. Because if it is legal, we will dismiss the petition,” he said.
Meanwhile, Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang expressed support for her fellow justices as she reminded Alvarez to “know the limits of his power.”
“He (Alvarez) is very emotional,” said Carandang.
Last week, the Speaker warned that the House could dissolve the appellate court for compelling them to release the six detained provincial executives — Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaor, Josephine Calajate, Eden Battulayan, Evangeline Tabuluog and Pedro Agcaoili Jr.
“They are not even our co-equal branch… They are merely a creation of Congress. They only exist because they were created by Congress. Any time, we can dissolve them,” said Alvarez, who also called the justices “idiots.” SFM
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