Lawmakers question SC on TRO vs arrest order on Gov. Mamba

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 31) — Several lawmakers from the House of Representatives questioned the Supreme Court (SC)'s issuance of a temporary injunction on an arrest order against Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba over a contempt citation.

During a hearing for the judiciary's 2024 budget, SAGIP Partylist representative Rodante Marcoleta said the high court's move could have caused a constitutional crisis.

"The fact that you issued a TRO (temporary restraining order) to a co-equal branch of government, what if Congress will file a bill removing the judicial power of review? 'Di ba we cannot do that? Paano natin mako-correct ito? (How can we correct this?) The TRO is there already," Marcoleta said.

On Aug. 24, Mamba surrendered to the House of Representatives after he was cited in contempt when he failed to justify the absence of his employees in an inquiry into alleged election irregularities in Cagayan in 2022.

However, he only spent hours under House custody as he secured a TRO from the Supreme Court within the day.

Bukidnon 2nd Dist. Representative Jonathan Flores also stressed the chamber's constitutional right to hold inquiries in aid of legislation.

He challenged the SC's decision to issue a TRO on the contempt and detention order without even seeking an explanation from the House.

"Grave abuse of discretion has always been the grounds of the Supreme Court in interfering with the affairs of Congress," Flores said. "Who then checks if the Supreme Court has committed grave abuse of discretion?"

Court administrator Raul Villanueva explained that the high court was simply following internal rules when it acted on Mamba's petition.

Mamba eventually withdrew the petition, leading to a recent court order for the governor and his legal team to justify their "improper conduct".

"The Supreme Court has always upheld the power of inquiry in aid of legislation of Congress," Villanueva assured lawmakers.

Isabela 1st Dist. Representative Antonio Albano appealed to the SC to consider having a dialogue first with Congress in future similar incidents.

"Maybe have a mechanism to be cautious in interpreting certain TROs especially if it encroaches on the function of the legislature," Albano said.

The high court has ordered Mamba and his legal counsels to explain why they should not be disciplined or held in contempt over their inconsistent actions regarding the House of Representatives' contempt and detention orders against the local chief executive.