MANILA -- Members of the House of Representatives' minority bloc asked the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify Executive Order (EO) 1 that created the Truth Commission.

The minority bloc congressmen led by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman are mostly allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is currently a congresswoman of the second district of Pampanga province.

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Arroyo's allies jointly filed a 54-page petition for certiorari Thursday with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction.

The group, which includes Representatives Rodolfo Albano Jr. (Isabela), Simeon Datumanong (Maguindanao), and Orlando Fua Sr. (Siquijor), sought for the TRO or injunction in order to maintain the status quo, pending the High Court's ruling on the case "so as not to cause grave injustice to those affected by the EO."

Petitioners also offered to post a bond in an amount to be fixed by the SC to answer for any damage, which respondents may suffer as a consequence of the issuance of injunctive relief.

President Benigno Aquino III signed EO 1 on July 30, a month after he assumed office in Malacañang, formally creating the Truth Commission.

The commission to be chaired by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., is tasked to investigate the alleged irregularities of the Arroyo administration, among them the $329-million NBN-ZTE scam, the P729-million fertilizer fund scam and the “Hello, Garci” scandal.

The commission is expected to finish its mission on or before December 31, 2012.

The petitioners said the creation of the commission is an "exercise in futility and an enterprise in partisan hostility," saying that it wantonly discriminates and targets only officials, employees, and their co-conspirators who belong to the previous administration.

“If eliminating graft and corruption is the noble aim, then, equal protection demands that all persons who belong to the same class of suspected and alleged perpetrators of graft and corruption must be investigated and prosecuted equally without regard to personalities and regimes,” the petition read.

The lawmakers pointed out that the commissions made in the previous administrations were created by legislative authorization.

Aquino's EO, according to the minority lawmakers, arrogates the legislative power of Congress to create government or public offices, agencies and commissions, thereby breaching the constitutionally ordained separation of powers, and to appropriate public funds for them, the petitioners said.

"The Office of the President encroached and infringed on the sanctity of the principle of separation of power. Not being vested either by the Constitution or by an appropriate statute to create public offices, the OP verily arrogated the power of Congress to create a public office," the petition said.

The group cited that under the Administrative Code of 1987, the only authority delegated to the Office of the President is only to organize the administrative structure of the Office of the President to “achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency.”

“No life has been breathed to the Truth Commission because the President of the Republic is powerless to give such life to such public office,” it added.

The petitioners pointed out that the commission is only a fact-finding body but were also vested with far-reaching quasi-judicial powers akin to the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice.

“A review of the powers granted to the Truth Commission verily shows that EO 1 virtually illegally amended both the Constitution and pertinent laws, which granted quasi-judicial powers to the Ombudsman and the DOJ. Consequently, it now appears that the clone has ascendancy over the originals,” the petition said.

The petitioners also said the provision on the appropriation of the committee under Section 11 of EO 1 is not definite and lacks transparency as to the specific amount budgeted, the ceiling to be utilized and the identification of a definite funding source.

The group named as respondents in the petition Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Malacañang on Thursday welcomed the petitions filed before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the Truth Commission, saying the Solicitor General is ready to defend the case before the court.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda expressed optimism that the government has sufficient legal basis to defend the commission's existence and that the Aquino administration did not violate the 1987 Constitution.

"We welcome them. It's a natural course for the opposition to do it and we are prepared to defend our case," he said.

Lacierda said that the main objective in creating the commission is to look for the total closure of all scandals in the past administration and identify the officials behind these controversies.

"Let us put a closure to all of the controversies. This is the time for us to put all controversies behind. Hanapin natin kung sino ang mga may sala at kung ano talaga ang nangyari sa mga malalaking scandal at para matuto po ang pamahalaan na huwag ng ulitin ang mga ginawa noong nakaraang administrasyon, (Let us identify those behind the big scandals during the previous administration so that we can learn from these)" he said.

Lacierda told reporters that even during the last presidential campaign, the President vowed for a resolution of the big scandals during the past administration.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte meanwhile hopes that the High Court can act swiftly on the petition filed by the minority bloc congressmen.

"We hope that the SC can act on it quickly and decisively instead of postponing and leaving it in limbo while the Commission is functioning," he said. (JCV/PNA/Sunnex)