Speaker Alvarez advises judiciary to discipline 3 CA magistrates
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday advised Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. to “discipline” the three CA magistrates embroiled in the inter-branch tug-of-war over the release of six detained Ilocos Norte officials.
The House leader said the chamber would not budge on the issuance of a show-cause order demanding that the three CA justices explain why they should not be cited in contempt for granting the habeas corpus petition of the so-called “Ilocos Six.”
Alvarez, in a statement, said he appreciated the opinion expressed by Sereno and Reyes that the House committee on good government and public accountability withdraw the show-cause order, but that it was necessary for the chamber to assert its own authority.
“Such is a consequence of the court’s order that overstepped its authority and transgressed the committee’s contempt powers, which is a necessary extension of its legislative power affirmed by no less than the Supreme Court in numerous cases,” the Speaker said.
The House has been locked in a standoff with CA Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela after they ordered the release of the Ilocos Norte officials detained by the House committee for refusing to answer questions about an alleged anomaly involving the purchase of P66.45 million worth of vehicles.
The six have been detained at the House of Representatives since May 29.
The CA attempted three times to serve the release order for the six officials, but the Speaker blocked it, threatening at one point to “dissolve” the appellate tribunal for interfering with the contempt powers of Congress.
In a rare joint statement on Wednesday, Sereno and Reyes urged the House leadership to “reconsider” its threat to hold the justices in contempt.
“Cognizant of its implications on (the) separation of powers and judicial independence, (we) express deep concern over the show cause order issued by the House committee on good government and public accountability,” Sereno and Reyes said.
They said the House had other legal remedies available to them in questioning the June 9 resolution of the appellate court’s Special Fourth Division.
But Alvarez said the House was not the one at fault.
“Let it be clear that the House of Representatives is simply doing its job based on jurisprudence and existing law. For the record, it is the Special Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals that violated the existing law and established jurisprudence,” he said.
He said he appreciated the need to keep the peace between Congress and the judiciary.
“True, harmony must be preserved among the co-equal branches of our government under the time-honored principle of separation of powers. However, it has become necessary for the House committee to issue the show cause order against the justices of the CA Special Fourth Division,” he said.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chair of the House committee on good government and accountability panel, said his committee would still issue the show-cause order against the three magistrates.
“If they want reconsideration, they must put it into writing so that it will be official,” he said. JPV/rga
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