IBP backs Ilocos 6 right to bail, CA power over habeas corpus cases
MANILA — Calling for sobriety and rule of law, the country’s biggest legal organization has asked the House of Representatives to back down from a worsening conflict with the judiciary over a Court of Appeals (CA) order to release six Ilocos Norte provincial officials detained in Congress.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has reminded legislators that the appellate court has the authority to grant bail based on the habeas corpus petition of the six detained officials who were cited in contempt during a legislative inquiry into alleged funds misuse by the Ilocos Norte government.
If the members of the House committee on good government and public accountability, which issued the contempt order, wanted to overturn the CA’s release order, they should have gone to the Supreme Court, the IBP pointed out.
The group called on the House committee to recall its “show cause order” against three CA justices from the special Fourth Division who signed the release order, supposedly to explain why they should not be cited in contempt.
“It does not appear that the Court of Appeals has infringed upon, interfered with or denied the power or authority of the House of Representatives” when the court acted on the petition of the six Ilocos Norte officials, the IBP said in a statement issued Sunday by its board of governors.
The House has the authority to detain those it would hold in contempt, but it is within the authority of the judiciary to decide whether the six officials can be temporarily freed on bail, according to the IBP.
“While the authority of the House of Representatives to hold persons in contempt and order their detention is beyond question, the determination of whether the right of the Ilocos 6 against self-incrimination was properly invoked is a justiciable issue that is well within the authority of the judiciary to determine,” the organization said.
As the mandatory organization for all lawyers in the country, the IBP counts among its members those who instigated the contempt order namely House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Representative Rudy Fariñas and Negros Oriental Representative and committee on good government chairman Reynaldo Umali.
The IBP pointed out the CA has not said that the House had abused its authority when it detained the six provincial officials, since the court ordered to release them based on their right to bail.
“The right to bail is another constitutional right that the Court of Appeals has the authority to grant in habeas corpus proceedings unless the detained person is under a charge for an offense punishable by
death,” the IBP stressed.
“If the House of Representatives is of the position that the grant of bail by the Court of Appeals was done in grave abuse of discretion, the remedy to question the order (before) the Supreme Court,” it added.
The organization pointed out that the CA has not yet ruled whether the six Ilocos Norte officials were entitled to invoke their right against self-incrimination in the House investigation.
“In the future, if the Court of Appeals should find that there was a violation of the constitutional right of the Ilocos 6 against self-incrimination, the remedy (of the House) is to appeal such a judgment to the Supreme Court,” the IBP reiterated.
The IBP pointed out that the country did not need a “constitutional crisis” amid the fighting against terrorists in Marawi City.
“The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines calls upon the members of the bar in Congress to act as light bringers and advocates of sobriety to bring about an end to this looming controversy,” it said.
“Let the rule of law prevail through the exercise and application of the remedies provided under the law and the rules of court,” the IBP added.
The six provincial officials have been detained since May 29 when they were cited in contempt during the House inquiry into the provincial government’s purchase of P66.4 million worth of vehicles out of its
share of the tobacco excise taxes.
House officials have defied the appellate court’s order to release the six, and Alvarez at one point threatened to dissolve the CA.
The CA has also issued a show cause order to House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali to explain why he should not be cited in contempt for not receiving a copy of the court’s orders. SFM
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