The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has urged the House of Representatives to withdraw its show cause order against three Court of Appeals (CA) magistrates who ordered the release on bail of six officials of the provincial government of Ilocos Norte.
In a two-page statement, the IBP explained that withdrawing the show cause order will avert a clash between two co-equal branches of government – congress and the judiciary.
The six officials — Pedro Agcaoili (Provincial Planning and Development Office chairperson); Josephine Calajate (provincial treasurer); Eden Battulayan (Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff); Encarnacion Gaor (Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff); Genedine Jambaro (Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff) and Evangeline Tabulog (provincial budget officer) — have been detained since May 29 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City for their supposed refusal to shed light on the alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco levy funds to buy vehicles under the watch of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
The IBP Board of Governors also asked the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, which is conducting a probe on the anomaly, to pursue judicial remedies to contest the order of the CA.
“The Board of Governors strongly urges the House of Representatives to reconsider its position by recalling the show cause order issued against the justices of the Court of Appeals,” the IBP said through its national president, Rosario Setias-Reyes.
“If the House of Representatives is of the position that the grant of bail by the Court of Appeals was done in grave abuse of discretion, the remedy to question the order in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 that may be filed with the Supreme Court,” it added.
“If, in the future, the Court of Appeals should find that there was a violation of the constitutional right of the Ilocos 6 against self-incrimination, the remedy is to appeal such a judgment to the Supreme Court.”
The IBP opined that the granting of bail to the six officials by the CA does not seem to constitute an infringement on the authority of the House.
“Under the circumstances, despite the public perception, it does not appear that the Court of Appeals has infringed upon, interfered with or denied, the power or authority of the House of Representatives,” the group said.
“It is on this note that the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines calls upon the members of the bar in Congress to act as light bringers and advocates of sobriety to bring about an end to this looming controversy. Let the Rule of Law prevail through the exercise and application of the remedies provided under the law and the Rules of Court,” it added.
Last week, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, Jr. requested the House leadership to withdraw the order, which could potentially lead to the CA justices being cited in contempt by the legislature.