Constitutional crisis feared over GMA travel dispute

from a report by Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2011 09:52 PM | Updated as of Nov 17 2011 05:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang versus the Supreme Court. This is the battle being expected after the Justice Department defied a court order that allows the Arroyos to leave the country.

But even before Tuesday night's drama, the executive department had already ignored a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the 20 percent final withholding tax on the so-called PEACe bonds.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said the tax could no longer be stopped since the P5 billion had already been remitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue before they received the TRO from the high court.

"It was not complying and therefore they are being asked to show cause why they should not be held in contempt, and comply," said SC Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.

Several experts are concerned over the escalation of the clash between the executive and the judiciary.

"The government or the administration is courting unwanted problems later. Magkakaroon ka ng Constitutional crisis if you don't follow the Supreme Court," said Professor Ed Tayao of the University of Santo Tomas Political Science Department.

If a Constitutional crisis arises from a disagreement between branches of government, it could affect government services.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, believes Malacañang is making up reasons not to follow the TRO.

"If they are really sincere about following the law, they will do that. But obviously, they're looking for ways of avoiding because they don't wanna do it. It's no longer just a question of legality, it's already cruelty," he said.

Bernas said he supports the right of anyone to travel, until a case is filed against them before the court. - ANC