MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and two other magistrates have inhibited themselves from hearing the petition filed by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and six provincial employees detained by the House of Representatives to stop the probe on the alleged misuse of tobacco funds to buy vehicles.
The other magistrates were Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, to whom the case was assigned, and newly-appointed Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr.
The high court was supposed to tackle the petition in regular session Tuesday.
However, high court spokesman Theodore Te told reporters, “The Omnibus Petition was re-raffled upon the inhibition of the Member-in-Charge. The Chief Justice and Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr. also recused themselves.”
Peralta recused himself because he is related to House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, a respondent to the petition. The other respondents are Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel and House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali.
Sereno and Reyes, on the other hand, earlier issued a joint statement calling on the House committee on good government and public accountability, chaired by Pimentel, to recall a show cause order it issued against the three Court of Appeals justices who ordered the release of the “Ilocos 6.”
Because of the inhibitions, the high court had to set another raffle for the case and reset deliberations to their next session on July 25.
The 67-page omnibus petition filed July 13 seeks a temporary restraining order on the House probe into the alleged misuse of the P66.45 million in tobacco excise funds and the release of the six Ilocos Norte employees.
It also asks the high court to assume jurisdiction on the pending petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the appellate court and for the issuance of a writ of amparo against the good government panel “to protect the actual and threatened violations and infringement of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person.”
The Ilocos 6 — provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate; provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog; provincial planning and development office chair Pedro Agcaoili; and treasurer’s office staff Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaor, and Eden Battulayan — were detained May 29 after being cited in contempt for allegedly refusing to cooperate with the House probe.
Marcos herself has been subpoenaed to appear at the committee’s July 25 hearing and threatened with arrest and detention if she fails to show up.