The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to intervene in an apparent feud between the House of Representatives and the Court of Appeals (CA) over the continuing detention of six employees of the Ilocos Norte provincial government.
In a statement, Philconsa over the weekend asked the SC to “defend, preserve and protect the Constitution,” particularly by urging the High Court to act on a letter of three CA justices seeking an advisory opinion on the “unexpected, unorthodox reaction” of the House leadership after the appellate court issued a writ of habeas corpus in favor of the “Ilocos 6” and ordered their release on bail.
Philconsa chairman Manuel Lazaro and president Ferdinand Martin Romualdez called on the SC to resolve the CA justice’s letter as an administrative matter and issue a decision to settle the conflict.
“This is the judicial process/vehicle to enable the Supreme Court [to]resolve the clashing postures, in order to avert a constitutional crisis,” Philconsa explained.
It said the SC is mandated under the Constitution to act “as the final arbiter of constitutional questions/legal controversies.”
The SC has a duty to “interpret and allocate the jurisdictional boundaries of the rights and obligations of the parties involved when a writ of habeas corpus is issued,” Philconsa added.
It maintained that the House is duty-bound to abide by whatever decision the SC will render on the matter.
“In the remote event the House still refuses to honor and execute the resolution/decision of the Supreme Court in the administrative matter, the President shall undoubtedly execute or implement the decision of the Supreme Court, as mandated by his oath of office to preserve and defend the Constitution and execute its laws,” Philconsa said.
The “Ilocos Six” have been detained since May 29 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City for their alleged refusal to shed light on the reported misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco levy funds to buy vehicles under the watch of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
Through their counsel, former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, they were able to convince the CA to issue a writ of habeas corpus in their favor and order their release on bail.
In response, the House leadership threatened to hold three CA justices in contempt, arguing that their issuance of the cited writ constituted an intrusion into the exclusive power of Congress to conduct investigations in aid of legislation.
The CA justices are Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela.
The six Ilocos Norte provincial workers 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).