SC, CA call House to reconsider show cause orderJun 22, 2017
Ilocos Norte Lawyer: "Writ of Habeas Corpus, once issued, must be followed"
Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA) released an official statement expressing their concern over the issued show cause order against the CA justices who granted the petition for writ of habeas corpus to the six detained employees of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN).
The House issued the show cause order to the CA Special Fourth Division Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon, and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela.
Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez allegedly questioned the three CA justices who issued the release order saying "itong mga tatlong gagong justices na ito, dapat ito, magpa-file kami ng disbarment cases for ignorance of the law."
Alvarez' statements caught Chief Justice Sereno's concern, thus calling the House to "reconsider" the show cause order.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Cherrie Grace Bareng - Asistin, President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Ilocos Norte Chapter when asked about the defiance of the House to the order of the CA stated:
"If the writ of habeas corpus was already issued, then it should be immediately executory, even pending appeal or motion for reconsideration, owing to the fact that the life and liberty of the detained persons are at stake."
She likewise quoted the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 which provides that "The Court of Appeals shall exercise 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."
"Well, if the writ was issued by a court that has competent jurisdiction over the matter, then it should be respected by the agency or whoever it was issued to. I understand that it was only the Sergeant-At-Arms that was impleaded in the Petition filed with the CA. So, if it was issued directly to him, then he has no discretionary power. He has no power to defy it, rather, he has to respect the order coming from the CA," she added.
The petition for the habeas corpus was issued by the CA Justices last June 9, but was defied three times by the House Sergeant-At-Arms Lt. Gen. Roland M. Detabali (ret.), disregarding the summonses to bring the six employees before the CA.
The employees, dubbed "Ilocos Six," were being investigated for the Capitol's purchase of motor vehicles sourced from tobacco excise taxes and were cited in contempt by Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo "Rudy" C. Fariñas for "refusing to answer questions" and being "evasive".
Despite serving the release order three times, they are still under the House custody and are detained until the next hearing.
"Respect begets respect"
Speaker Alvarez threatened the CA, planning a motion to dissolve the appellate court.
Bareng posits that if the House invokes 'separation of powers,' they must respect also the orders coming from the CA since the latter is an independent part of the judiciary with whom the detained employees resorted to for remedy in their present predicament.
"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."
Meanwhile, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III warned Speaker Alvarez to "not use the powers of the Congress against the CA just because we do not agree with their decision."
Senator Francis Escudero backed this, saying "whether we agree or not to a court decision, the remedy there is to appeal and question it. Not heeding a court ruling is not included in these multiple options."