Supreme Court of the Philippines

SC to Cagayan Governor Mamba: Why should we not hold you in contempt?

Dwight de Leon

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SC to Cagayan Governor Mamba: Why should we not hold you in contempt?

LOCAL EXEC. Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba in May 2023, during a House inquiry into alleged election irregularities committed by his provincial government in 2022.

House press and public affairs bureau

The Supreme Court last week saved Cagayan's Manuel Mamba from House arrest, but the governor eventually withdrew his SC petition, in fulfillment of his promise to lawmakers who ordered his detention in the first place

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court ordered Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba and his legal team on Tuesday, August 29, to explain why they should not be disciplined in the wake of their actions in connection with his detention in the House of Representatives.

The Supreme Court, on August 24, granted Mamba reprieve by stepping in and stopping the House from enforcing its arrest order against Mamba, but the governor, days later, moved to withdraw his petition, which the Court had acted on.

Mamba’s decision to withdraw his petition stemmed from his commitment to the House, which did not immediately release him after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) in Mamba’s favor. In fact, it took another three hours on August 27 before he finally walked free.

“The Court, before acting on the manifestation and motion to withdraw petition, resolved to require petitioner Manuel M. Mamba and his counsels, i.e., Macalintal Law Office, to show cause why they should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for acts that constitute ‘abuse of or any unlawful interference with the processes or proceedings of a court not constituting direct contempt’ and/or ‘improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice’ within 10 days from notice,” the Supreme Court said in a media advisory on Wednesday, August 30.

What led to this

Mamba’s provincial government has been the subject of numerous hearings conducted by the suffrage and public accounts committees due to alleged illegal expenditures during the 2022 campaign period.

He surrendered to the House on the morning of August 24, in compliance with the House’s arrest order over his failure to punctually explain his employees’ absence during a hearing on August 7.

When he was released by the House past 9 pm that day, public accounts chairman Caraps Paduano insisted it was not the TRO that led to Mamba’s release, but his:

  • apology to the House committees on public accounts and suffrage
  • commitment to attend the committees’ next hearing
  • promise not to talk about the inquiry outside of Congress
  • and commitment to withdraw the petition he filed with the SC.
SC to Cagayan Governor Mamba: Why should we not hold you in contempt?

In his defense to the House last week, Mamba told lawmakers the non-issuance of travel orders “was never a hindrance to their participation in the proceedings of the committees,” and that the employees just felt it was more important that they stay in Cagayan to address the needs of typhoon victims.

He said relief operations were still underway in Cagayan, which declared a state of calamity in end-July.

The House inquiry into the Cagayan provincial government’s 2022 election activities was sparked by resolutions filed by Cagayan 3rd District Representative Joseph Lara, whose wife Zarah lost to then-reelectionist Mamba last year.

The congressman alleged that the provincial government used government funds for various programs in violation of the campaign spending ban.

A Commission on Elections division initially moved to disqualify Mamba in December 2022 from the race he had won in May that year, but the Comelec en banc later overturned the previous ruling–

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.