House to CA: Explain ‘Ilocos 6’ release order

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The House of Representatives on Thursday said it will not recall the show-cause order it issued against three Court of Appeals (CA) justices who had ordered the release of six Ilocos Norte government employees under probe over alleged misuse of more than P66 million in tobacco funds.

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Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte made the statement after Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno called on the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to take back the show-cause order that seeks to compel CA justices Nina Valenzuela, Erwin Sorongon and Presiding Justice Stephen Cruz to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for ordering the House to release the so-called Ilocos 6.

Members of the “Ilocos 6” are in detention for contempt at the Batasang Pambansa since May 29 over their refusal to confirm their signatures on certified true copies of purchase orders and vouchers involving the purchase of motor vehicles and medicines, among others, using the more than P66-million tobacco fund without public bidding.

Alvarez said it is the CA justices of the Special Fourth Division who violated the existing law when they committed grave abuse of discretion tantamount to ignorance of the law in issuing the ruling granting the employees their petition for the writ of habeas corpus or right to be released without a pending warrant of arrest.

“It is true that harmony must be preserved among the co-equal branches of our government under the principle of separation of powers but it has also become necessary for the House committee to issue the show-cause order as a consequence of the CA’s order that overstepped its authority and transgressed the committee’s contempt powers, a necessary extension of its legislative power affirmed by no less than the Supreme Court,” he added.

The “Ilocos 6” are Ilocos Norte treasurer Josephine Calajate, budget officer Evangeline Tabulog, Bids and Awards committee head Pedro Agcaoili and Genedine Jambaro, Eden Battulayan and Encarnacion Gaor of the treasurer’s office.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) chapter in Ilocos Norte defended the appellate court as it slammed the House for not following the rule of law.

IBP chapter president Cherrie Grace Bareng-Asistin said the House must respect and obey the orders of the CA for the release of the detained employees.

She added that all lawyers like Alvarez who issued the show-cause order against the justices should be the defenders of the rule of law and should know very well the mandate and authority of the appellate court under the law.

Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, Asistin argued that it gives the CA the “original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in the aid of its appellate jurisdiction.”

“Respect begets respect. Yes, there is separation of powers, and in this case, there is no encroachment on the power of the legislative branch by the judiciary,” she pointed out.

with JOMAR CANLAS

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