MANILA - House justice committee Chair Rey Umali on Monday asked the Judiciary to respect the powers of the House of Representatives in the case of the so-called Ilocos 6 or risk impeachment.
Umali, the chairman of the panel that can initiate impeachment proceedings against top officials including the justices of the Supreme Court, asked the High Court to dismiss the Omnibus petition of the Marcos camp seeking protection for Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and 6 detained provincial officials.
The petition is also seeking a stop to the congressional investigation into the alleged misuse of provincial excise tax funds, and the assumption of the Court of jurisdiction over the Habeas corpus petition filed by the 6 before the Court of Appeals.
"Mga justices, wala pong ganun. We have a power of impeachment pero ayaw natin. Bakit natin gustong umabot kung puwede namang ayusin? It's all about respect so we need not pursue extra ordinary measures like impeachment," Umali said.
The lawmaker said any impeachment move is premature, while adding "we will cross the bridge when we get there."
"We don't want to incite further animosity between independent branches of government," he said.
He explained that the omnibus petition filed last week should be dismissed "because this is violative of the rules...and a manipulation of the judicial system."
Umali said the power to pursue investigations was given by the Constitution to Congress.
“Balita ko ay hinihinging ipatigil yung aming inquiry dito sa Committee on Good Government. How can this happen when this is a discretion that is absolutely lodged in the representatives of the people in the members of the Congress in the different committees and subcommittees? Sana po maintindihan ng taongbayan ito,” he said.
"Yung mga justices natin, even those below the SC, dapat respetuhin ang Kongreso, sa poder namin, para di po tayo nagbabanggaan, most especially when the subject of matter of litigation stems from a corruption which is a priority agenda of the president. Dapat po itigil na ito kung sinoman. They should not manipulate the justice system for questionable ends,” he added.
Umali also slammed the Marcos camp and lawyer Estelito Mendoza for going up to the Supreme Court.
“Why is this happenning? Nasaan ang respeto ng CA? Kami, nirerespeto, nag-submit nga kami ng pleading; and then comes a lawyer and his client, elevating the matter, effectively demeaning the court na una sila dumulog. Di na hinintay. Gusto nila i-assume ng SC. This is unprecedented, this is forum shopping at the very least.”
Umali also pointed out that Marcos is now availing of a remedy that was actually devised to prevent abuses like those that were perpetrated under the Marcos dictatorship.
”Writ of amparo, papaano ba nagsimula writ of amparo? The very reason the writ of amparo came about is the abuses of the Marcos regime. In the past, yung mga nawawala na di maexplain, and then gagamitin ngayon sa Kongreso. This is prostituting the Constitution and the judicial system.”
Earlier last week, Marcos held a press conference to rebut the investigation at the Lower House.
Legal counsels of the Ilocos Six have pursued legal remedies such as petitioning for the writ of habeas corpus and their provisional release, which were granted by the Court of Appeals, but thrice the House has defied the court order.
The House even issued a show-cause order against the CA justices who ordered the release, but they recently withdrew this in place of a motion for inhibition.
Marcos also pointed out an effort to intimidate the court.
"Sasabihin na pupunitin lamang ang order ng Korte. Lahat ng justice, 'bobo,' wala raw alam sa batas. Sadyang hindi pinakikinggan at tinatakot pati ang Chief Justice na siya'y ii-impeach," she said, referring to statements made by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against the judiciary.
Atty. Bayan Quinones, legal counsel of the Ilocos Six, shared that they had filed a unified petition at the Supreme Court.