CA showed ‘ignorance of law’ in Ilocos execs detention case – Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the Court of Appeals (CA) Special 4th Division “impinged” on the legislative powers of the House of Representatives when it ordered the provisional release of 6 Ilocos Norte officials detained in the chamber. 

Alvarez made the statement on Thursday, June 22, in response to the joint statement of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, who asked the House to reconsider its show cause order against 3 CA justices to explain why the House should not cite them in contempt. 

“Let it be clear that the House of Representatives is simply doing its job based on jurisprudence and existing law. For the record, it is the Special 4th Division of the Court of Appeals that violated the existing law and established jurisprudence,” said Alvarez.

He said the CA order “impinges on the core” of the House legislative power, which lawmakers are “duty-bound to protect.”

“It was the action of the CA Special Fourth Division that precipitated the unfortunate situation when it committed grave abuse of discretion tantamount to ignorance of the law in issuing the controversial order,” said Alvarez.  

Alvarez said he appreciated the joint comment of Sereno and Reyes, but he advised them to discipline the CA justices instead. 

“While I appreciate the view of Chief Justice Sereno and Presiding Justice Reyes, it may also be best if they can discipline the said members of the Appeals Court for grave abuse of discretion and abuse of authority. Accordingly, it also has the power to rectify the ‘uneasy situation’ its recklessness has created,” said Alvarez. 

The House committee on good government and public accountability detained 6 Ilocos Norte officials for giving “dismissive” answers during a probe into the alleged misuse of provincial tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles.

The Ilocos officials have since secured an order from the CA Special 4th Division ordering their provisional release, signed by Acting Presiding Justice Stephen Cruz and concurred to by Justices Erwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela.

But the House refused to release the officials, questioning the authority of the CA over its power to cite in contempt uncooperative resource persons in a committee hearing. (READ: ‘Maawa naman kayo,’ detained Ilocos Norte officials tell House

Alvarez himself even called the 3 CA justice “idiots.” The Davao del Norte 1st District Representative said Cruz, Sorongon, and Valenzuela supposedly “overturned” jurisprudence established by the SC since 1950.

Alvarez also cited the 2006 case of Sabio vs Gordon and reiterated Congress’ power to hold and detain people who were cited in contempt. 

“That there is in some cases a power in each House of Congress to punish for contempt; that this power is analogous to that exercised by the courts,” Alvarez quoted the ruling on Sabio vs Gordon– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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