Now, solons threaten CA justices with contempt
The House of Representatives committee on good government and public accountability has ordered three Court of Appeals (CA) justices to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for ordering the release of the so-called “Ilocos Six.”
The committee members unanimously voted, 30-0, to issue a show-cause order for Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela, escalating a confrontation between the legislature and the judiciary.
The motion was raised by Oriental Mindoro 2nd Dist. Rep. Reynaldo Umali and seconded by Oriental Mindoro 1st Dist. Rep. Paulino Salvador Leachon, during the continuation of the probe on the Ilocos Norte province’s alleged misuse of P66.45-million tobacco tax proceeds.
Umali called himself a “defender of this institution” and said the move to require the justices to speak up at the risk of a contempt citation was meant to “equalize our situation.”
The CA Special Fourth Division earlier ordered House Sergeant-at-Arms Ronald Detabali to explain why he should not be cited for contempt for defying the order to release the provincial officials who had been detained since May 29 at the House for failing to give satisfactory answers.
But the House leadership rejected the CA order, saying it did not have jurisdiction because its coequal was the Supreme Court.
“The sergeant-at-arms is now being asked to show cause when it should be the justices who initiated this issue and confronted this separate but coequal branch of government of the SC to be put in the situation where we are now,” Umali said.
He said the CA should not be allowed to pursue its action, because it would open up the possibility of lower courts like the Regional Trial Court issuing a writ of habeas corpus against the House.
“This is something that should never be allowed because it violates our mandate of Congress and it is in violation of the principles of separation of power and the principles of checks and balances,” he said.
Leachon said the justices showed “gross ignorance of the law” in ordering the release of the provincial employees.
Ilocos Norte 2nd Dist. Rep. Imelda Marcos, the mother of Gov. Imee Marcos and widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, tried to appeal for the detained official’s release on humanitarian grounds. But, the committee denied the request during the Tuesday afternoon hearing.
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