SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez today said the House of Representatives is contemplating on filing disbarment charges against the justices of the Special Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals for ignorance of the law.
In a radio interview, Alvarez said the order of the CA granting habeas corpus petition of 6 Ilocos Norte government officials detained by the House for contempt clearly contravenes the long line of decisions of the Supreme Court affirming the contempt powers of Congress, including a recent one involving the Senate.
However, Alvarez maintained that the House has the authority to keep the Ilocos Norte officials in detention.
“Hindi nila tinitingnan na recently nagdesisyon na naman ang Supreme Court, reaffirming yung karapatan ng Kongreso na mag-cite for contempt itong mga testigo na hindi nagsasabi ng totoo, hindi ba?,” Alvarez said.
“Magpa-file kami ng disbarment cases for ignorance of the law, itong justices na ito,” he added.
Alvarez was referring to Court of Appeals Special Fourth Division members, Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela.
Likewise, Alvarez said one of the CA’s Fourth Division members, Justice Nina Valenzuela, should have inhibited herself from the proceedings for “delicadeza” because her husband is a former associate in the law office of Atty. Estelito Mendoza, the lawyer of the so-called Ilocos Six.
“Delicadeza dapat nag-inhibit man lang siya diyan, pero hindi nag-inhibit. Ito namang dalawa pang bugok na kasama niya, ay pumanig pa. Dito talaga, malinaw na malinaw talagang gross ignorance of the law ito. Kaya ako, hindi ko ino-honor yung kanilang order na magpost ng bail,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez noted that the Court of Appeals is not even a co-equal branch of Congress.
“Kahit hanapin mo sa provision ng Constitution kung mayroon bang Court of Appeals justices diyan, wala. They are merely a creation of Congress, yung Court of Appeals. Kaya iyan nag-eexist dahil nga na-create iyan ng Congress---anytime puwede namin silang i-dissolve,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez stressed that the detention of the Ilocos Six stemmed from the exercise of the House of Representatives of its oversight functions to protect public interest.
“Huwag naman yung ganyan, ito ay ginagawa natin yung ating tungkulin sa bayan. Itanong nga natin sa sambayanan, tama ba na ang isang gobernador, mag-cash advance ng milyon-milyon tapos bibili ng multi-cab na segunda mano, walang bidding? Tapos hindi lang yun, wala pang rehistro hanggang ngayon, kasi kinonfirm po iyan ng LTO, walang mga multi-cab na nakarehistro doon sa Ilocos,” Alvarez pointed out.
Besides, Alvarez pointed out, if the detainees would only cooperate with the congressional inquiry and provide credible answers they can be immediately freed.
“This is a simple thing, na yung liberty o kung kalayaan ng mga nakadetain, yung susi hawak-hawak nila, sila lang yung may hawak ng susi. Hindi na kailangan mag-file pa ng kung ano-ano, habeas corpus o bail, hindi ba? Sagutin lang nila nang maayos yung tanong doon sa House of Representatives, yung tanong doon sa committee hearing,” Alvarez stressed.
He noted that the Ilocos Norte officials were apparently trying to hide something from the House committee.
“Nakakaloko naman iyan, 30 million mahigit tinanggap mo hindi mo maalala? Siguro kung ikaw naman kung tumanggap ka ng ganoong kalaking pera ay hanggang kamatayan maalala mo yun dahil pambihira yun,” Alvarez said.
The six Ilocos Norte officials were detained on May 29 after they were held in contempt for refusing to answer questions during a congressional inquiry into the alleged irregular procurement of P66.45 million worth of vehicles by the provincial government.