• Congress urged to recall contempt order vs justices

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    Heads of the Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals have appealed to the House of Representatives to recall the show cause order that the chamber issued against three CA Justices in connection with the “Ilocos 6” case.

    Invoking separation of powers and judicial independence, Chief Justice

    Maria Lourdes Sereno and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. asked the House to withdraw the order, which could lead to contempt citation for the justices.

    The House had ordered the CA 4th Division to explain why it should not be cited for contempt for ordering the release of six employees of the Ilocos Norte provincial government detained by lawmakers.

    A joint statement was signed and released by Sereno and Reyes, stating that there are other legal remedies available to the legislature that are stated under the Constitution, the law and the Rules of Court if it disagrees with the CA magistrates’ order.

    “Cognizant of its implications on separation of powers and judicial independence, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, express deep concern over the show-cause order issued by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability against Court of Appeals Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, who comprise the Court of Appeals Special Fourth Division,” the statement said.

    “Without inquiring into the merits of the issues currently pending before the Special Fourth Division and subject of the House committee’s inquiry, we note that the House of Representatives is not without any speedy legal remedy that is consistent with the separation of powers should it disagree with the action of the Court of Appeals, such as an appeal,” it added.

    The show-cause order against the three CA justices, according to Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, aims to equalize the House situation. The chamber was earlier ordered by the CA 4th Divison to explain why it should not be cited for contempt for defying the writ the court issued to present the “Ilocos 6” before it.

    Former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, lawyer for the provincial employees, slammed the chamber for the “torture” the employees are suffering.

    The “Ilocos 6” have been detained since May 29 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City for their refusal to shed light on the alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy vehicles under the watch of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

    They are Pedro Agcaoili (Provincial Planning and Development Office chairman); Josephine Calajate (provincial treasurer); Eden Battulayan, Encarnacion Gaor and Genedine Jambaro (Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff); and Evangeline Tabulog (provincial budget officer).

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