SC rebuffs House ‘Magnificent 7’
In an apparent move to avoid another collision course with the legislators, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuffed the attempt of seven opposition lawmakers dubbed as “Magnificent Seven” to be declared as the rightful minority group in the House of Representatives.
“Voting unanimously, [the court] dismissed the petition for mandamus for the reason that [the] petitioners were not entitled to the relief sought,” Theodore Te, the tribunal’s spokesperson, said in a press conference.
“However, the court emphasizes that the dismissal of this petition is without prejudice to any other controversy involving the internal rules of the House of the Representatives presented in a proper case seeking judicial review,” he added.
The petitioners — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones and Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice — had sought the high court’s intervention after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez declared Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as the minority leader.
This was despite the fact that Baguilat received more votes (eight) than Suarez (seven) for the speakership during the opening of the 17th Congress in July 2016.
In seeking the magistrates’ support, Lagman said their group should be declared as the “authentic minority” since they were “the real oppositionists in the House as shown by their consistent advocacies and pronouncements critical of the administration and the majority.”
Baguilat, for his part, said the Supreme Court “seems to be comfortable in giving wide latitude to Congress to violate its own rules.”
“It’s reneging on its task as a court of last resort in ensuring that our rules and laws are not violated by the executive and legislative chambers,” he said.
As Baguilat made the comment, the duly recognized minority bloc delivered its counter-Sona (State of the Nation Address), where Suarez said: “How we can counter a President who has an 82-percent trust rating and 92-percent awareness? So, this is not a counter-Sona.”
Baguilat remarked: “We may not hold the position, but we are performing the mandate as a the real minority. Amen?!”
The decision of the 15-member tribunal prevented what could be another squabble between the judiciary and the legislature, which had been at odds over the issue of the six Ilocos Norte officials and employees who were detained in the House.
Another Supreme Court decision also disappointed the Magnificent Seven bloc: the denial of the mandamus petition to compel Congress to jointly convene instead of simply approving President Duterte’s May 23 proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.
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