Alvarez stands firm on ‘show cause’
vs CA justices in tobacco tax row

June 22 2017 11:02 AM

Screengrab from Speaker Alvarez's Twitter account (@speakeralvarez)
Screengrab from Speaker Alvarez’s Twitter account (@speakeralvarez)

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez stood firm in issuing a show cause order against three Court of Appeals justices despite a statement by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to reconsider the move.

In a statement on Thursday, June 22, Alvarez instead urged Sereno to “discipline” the CA justices for “grave abuse of discretion and abuse of authority.”

“While I appreciate the view of Chief Justice Sereno and CA 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,” he said.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, Sereno and Reyes said: “It is our hope that the House of Representatives reconsider its order and that it, instead, avail of all legal remedies that are provided to it under the Constitution, the law, and the Rules of Court.”

Alvarez said he believed that “harmony must be preserved among the co-equal branches of our government under the time-honored principle of separation of powers.”

“However, it has become necessary for the House committee to issue the show cause order against the justices of the CA Special Fourth Division. Such is a consequence of the court’s order that overstepped its authority and transgressed the committee’s contempt powers, which is a necessary extension of its legislative power affirmed by no less than the Supreme Court in numerous cases” he added.

The committee on Tuesday’s hearing ordered CA Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela of the Special Fourth Division to show cause why they should not be cited in contempt for ordering the release of the local government employees who were being investigated for the alleged anomalous purchases of vehicles using Ilocos Norte’s tobacco excise tax share.

The Special Fourth Division issued a resolution asking the House of Representatives to present the six Ilocos Norte government employees currently detained at the Batasan Complex, but Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez defied the order.

In his statement, Alvarez said the House action was based on jurisprudence and existing law.  He said it was the Special Fourth Division that violated these laws.

The House leader said the CA order “impinges on the core of the legislative power that the Constitution has vested upon the House of Representatives of which we are duty-bound to protect.”

He added that the CA order not only violated the constitutional power of the House, but has “overturned jurisprudence long established by the Supreme Court since 1950.”

In the 2006 case of Sabio v Gordon, citing an 1821 American case, the SC in reiterating the power of Congress to hold and detain a person in contempt, stated “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 said.