LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established… Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…” (Romans 13:1-2, the Holy Bible).
“DON’T INTERFERE WITH OUR WORK”—UMALI TO SENATORS: “Don’t interfere or meddle with our work.”
This was the import of what Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali, chair of the House Committee on Justice, told senators on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, after news reports came out warning of a Constitutional crisis if the House of Representatives will insist on the appearance of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno in the hearings of the impeachment case against her.
In answer to criticisms from Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon and Sen. Francis Escudero who said that Umali and his committee cannot compel Sereno to attend the impeachment hearings and that Sereno cannot be ordered arrested by the House if she will not attend the proceedings, Umali clarified that what he and his committee are doing are in accord with the powers that the Constitution granted to them
LAWMAKERS CLASH WITH ONE ANOTHER ON SERENO CASE: If the truth be told, Umali has a point in decrying the “meddling” by Drilon and Escudero on the on-going hearings of the Committee on Justice. Indeed, the power of the Committee on Justice to compel anyone to attend its proceedings and detain those who will disobey its orders can be found in the Constitution itself.
If someone thinks then that there is something wrong in what Umali and his colleagues are doing, they should act accordingly by filing the appropriate petition with the Supreme Court. According to the Constitution and the decisions of the Court, it is only the tribunal which has the power to rule on litigious issues affecting exercise of power by government officials.
Further, under Section 1, Article 8 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court was granted what is now known as “judicial power”—or the power to declare the arbitrariness and hence the illegality of orders or actions of government officials and agencies, on the ground of abuse of authority in the discharge of their functions.
ALVAREZ AND UMALI ARE WRONG ON “JUDICIAL POWER: But Umali and the other leaders of the House of Representatives would appear to be guilty somehow of the same disregard of existing rules and regulations. While they demand that they be left alone to do whatever they think would be in accordance with their own processes, they are refusing anyway to respect the processes enshrined in the Constitution which recognize the rights of other officials or agencies, like the Supreme Court.
Is it not a fact that both Umali and House Speaker Bebot Alvarez have been relentless in their pronouncements that the Supreme Court should not dare interfere with the impeachment proceedings because, from their own point of view, only the lawmakers have the right to participate and decide in those proceedings?
I don’t know what version of the Constitution Umali and Alvarez are using but it is clear that their perception is wrong. As we have been expounding here, the Supreme Court can now meddle, as it were, on anything in government, because it has been given “judicial power”—or, literally, the power to meddle—by the Constitution that the Cory Aquino presidency ushered in. Lawmakers should revise the charter first, if they want to remove this “judicial power”.
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