Philconsa, farmers back Imee, ‘Ilocos 6’ vs House
The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) urged the Supreme Court (SC) to intervene in the conflict between the Court of Appeals and the House of Representatives over the case of six Ilocos Norte officials being detained for more than a month now for contempt.
In a statement Sunday, Philconsa specifically asked the High Court to act on the letter of the three CA associate justices seeking advisory opinion on the “unexpected, unorthodox reaction” of the House on the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus they issued in favor of the Ilocos Norte officials.
Through its chair Manuel Lazaro, Philconsa urged the High Court to consider the letter as an administrative matter and issue a decision to resolve the conflict.
“This is the judicial process/vehicle to enable the Supreme Court (to) resolve the clashing postures, in order to avert a constitutional crisis,” Philconsa said. The group, considered among the oldest law organizations in the country, was founded in 1961 to “defend, preserve and protect the Constitution.”
Philconsa cited the mandate of the High Court under the Constitution “as the final arbiter of constitutional questions/legal controversies” and its duty to “interpret and allocate the jurisdictional boundaries of the rights and obligations of the parties involved when a writ of habeas corpus is issued.”
The group believes that the House would honor and abide by the High Court if it will issue a ruling on the matter.
“In the remote event the House still refuses to honor and execute the Resolution/Decision of the Supreme Court in the Administrative Matter, the President shall undoubtedly execute or implement the decision of the Supreme Court, as mandated by his oath of office to preserve and defend the Constitution and execute its laws,” Philconsa said.
Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio of the CA’s Special Fourth Division ordered the release of the so-called “Ilocos 6.” The House refused and threatened to arrest them for contempt, prompting them to seek guidance from the High Court.
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. earlier issued a statement calling on the House leaders to recall the show cause order and instead consider legal remedies under the Rules of Court in questioning the CA orders, including possible petition before the SC.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Philippine Bar Association have also issued similar statements.
The CA’s release order covered Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Development Office chair; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulayan, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff member; Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff member; Genedine Jambaro, of Provincial Treasurer’s Office; and Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer.
They have been detained since May 29 after being cited in contempt by the House committee on good government and public accountability during its probe into the alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles.
Meanwhile, two farmers groups in Ilocos Norte have adopted resolutions denouncing what they described as “apparent unfairness and opportunism” of the ongoing inquiry of the House committee on good government and public accountability into the alleged misuse of the province’s tobacco excise funds, as they rally behind Gov. Imee Marcos.
The Ilocos Norte Federation of Mango Producers Associations and Ilocos Norte Federation of Vegetable Growers Associations condemned the “insufferable and bias acts” of the House committee as regards to the ongoing investigation of the Ilocos Norte tobacco funds.
The mango growers group stressed that the power of legislative inquiry as provided under Article 6, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution does not give Congress the power to deprive any citizen of constitutionally vested rights to freedom of movement, presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
“In conducting the investigation to the alleged misuse of the tobacco funds of Ilocos Norte, the (House) committee . . . failed to observe the necessary constitutional rights of Gov. Imee R. Marcos and the six Ilocos Norte officials,” the vegetable farmers led by its president Ricardo Tolentino said, in a resolution.
“By our rational and impartial perspectives we find that the proceedings have ceased to be one in aid of legislation because it has obviously become politically tainted,” they said.
The group lamented that the House has allowed the accuser – the one who pushed for the investigation – to act as an investigator, prosecutor and judge, “thus putting at risk the constitutional proviso of separation of powers between the court and legislature.”
“If the House committee presses on the detention of . . . Governor Imee Marcos, the association is resolved to seek the House to detain with her all of the members of the Mango Growers Association in order to demonstrate our support to her against this sinister proceedings,” the resolution said.
The vegetable farmers led by its president Wilfredo Valdez echoed the sentiments of the mango growers, saying “our rationality and moral have been offended with the presentation of the would-be detention cell of our esteemed Governor Imee Marcos, proving that fact that the House committee has concluded guilt prior to the actual observance of due process.”
If the House proceeded with the detention of Gov. Marcos, the vegetable farmers group vowed to press the panel to also detain them “to deprecate this intolerable abuse as anything of this nature is highly beyond the contemplation of their mandate.” CBB/rga
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