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CA firm on order to release Ilocos execs

MANILA, Philippines - The justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) who ordered the release of six Ilocos Norte officials detained by the House of Representatives for contempt are not backing down on their decision despite threats from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

“What we did was our duty,” Associate Justice Stephen Cruz, one of the members of the fourth division of the CA that is handling the case, said yesterday.

Associate Justices Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela are the other CA division members.

“If we falter because of some threats, it would show our weakness as magistrates...Let justice be done though the heavens fall. If we are wrong, they could always go up to the Supreme Court, “ Cruz said.

He said they ordered the release of the officials to determine if their detention was legal. “If it is legal, we will dismiss the petition,” Cruz said.

He said they would also welcome any disbarment case.

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Alvarez said they would seek the disbarment of the CA justices, noting that since the appelate court has no jurisdiction over the House, it does not have the authority to reverse its contempt powers. He said Congress could also dissolve the CA any time.

CA Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang defended her colleagues, saying Alvarez is “very emotional and must know the limits of his power.”

Pedro Agcaoili, provincial planning and development office chairman; Josephine Calajate, treasurer; Eden Battulayan, Encarnacion Gaor and Genedine Jambaro of the treasurer’s office and Evangeline Tabulog, budget officer, have been detained since May 29 over their alleged evasive answers on the allegations of Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas that llocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos misused P66 million in tobacco funds.

‘Follow judicial process’

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he would oppose moves to abolish the CA.

“It would affect the entire judicial system…I strongly advise Speaker Alvarez to respect and follow the judicial process by seeking legal remedies under the law,” Drilon said.  

He said the powers of Congress should not be used against the CA or any institution.

Drilon said the CA, being the second highest court in the country, plays a critical role in upholding the Constitution and the rights of the people. 

The CA was created in 1936 under Commonwealth Act 3. – With Paolo Romero

               

 

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