STANDOFF | House panel votes to issue CA justices show-cause order for contempt over Ilocos 6

June 20, 2017 - 6:14 PM
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Tension between the House of Representatives and the Court of Appeals, seen earlier on a collision course over the Ilocos 6 case, may be easing. INTERAKSYON FILE IMAGE

MANILA – The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability has approved a motion for the Court of Appeals justices who ordered the release of the “Ilocos 6” to show cause as to why they should not be cited in contempt.

Voting 30-0, the Committee members were in favor of the motion of Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Reynaldo Umali on Tuesday.

He argued that if the House of Representatives allowed the Court of Appeals to get away with it, it would be possible for Regional Trial Courts to issue a writ of habeas corpus against the House.

Umali said this would violate the mandate of Congress, and would violate the principles of separation of power, as well as the principles of checks and balances, given that the Congress was the Judiciary’s co-equal branch of government.

Thus, said Umali, they had to pursue a course of action that would “equalize” the situation where the sergeant-at-arms was being asked by the CA to show cause, when it should be the justices who “confronted” the “separate but co-equal branch” of the Supreme Court and put them in that situation.

Thus the CA justices must show cause “why they should not be cited in contempt for violating the separate and independent power of Congress,” Umali said.

He said the CA lacked jurisdiction over the case of the six detained Ilocos Norte employees.

“It’s a political question for which the court should not even venture or entertain,” Umali said.

The CA’s Special Fourth Division had issued a show-cause order requiring Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the House sergeant-at-arms to submit an explanation on why they should not be cited in contempt for defying the appellate court’s order to present the six employees of the provincial government before it and eventually release them.

The Ilocos 6 – Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaor, Josephine Calajate, Eden Battulayan, Evangeline Tabuluog, and Pedro Agcaoili, Jr. – have been detained at the Batasan Complex since May 29.

They were cited in contempt by the committee during its probe into the alleged misuse by the provincial government of P66.45 million in the provincial government’s share of tobacco excise tax funds.

Alvarez had threatened the CA associate justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon, and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela with disbarment for ignorance of the law, and said Congress could even dissolve the appellate court as it was just created by the legislative branch. He had added that the funds of the CA also came from Congress.