Ilocos 6 lawyer denounces torture

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FORMER Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza on Wednesday denounced as “torture” the continued detention of the six employees of the provincial government of Ilocos Norte by the House of Representatives despite the Court of Appeals’ order to have them released.

Mendoza, the lead counsel of the so-called “Ilocos Six,” said they must be released as soon as possible because the writ of habeas corpus issued by the appellate court was immediately executory.

And Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos on Wednesday expressed hope that the leadership of the House of Representatives and the committee on good government would be able to release the Ilocos Six soon.

“…it is not power but the milk of human kindness that make us godly, not influence or privilege or pride, for true greatness is wrought by love―love for the small and helpless…,” Mrs. Marcos said in her letter to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, the panel chairman.

At the resumption of the committee’s probe into the allegedly anomalous purchase of motor vehicles worth P66.45 million for Ilocos Norte, Pimentel’s panel refused to release the Ilocos Six for their refusal to answer questions on the issue.

The Ilocos Six said they would testify before the panel only if their preferred lawyers were with them during the congressional probe.

Former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes expressed hope that the House would reconsider its show-cause order against Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela of the appellate court’s Special Fourth Division, saying the House could avail of speedy legal remedies provided to it under the Constitution.

Sereno and Reyes said the House still had available administrative remedy if it felt aggrieved by the actions taken by the appellate court on the writ of habeas corpus case filed by the Ilocos Norte executives.

“Without inquiring into the merits of the issue currently pending before the Special Fourth Division and subject of the House committee’s inquiry, we note that the House of Representatives is not without any speedy legal remedy that is consistent with the separation of powers should it disagree with the action of the Court of Appeals, such as an appeal,” Sereno and Reyes said in a joint statement.

On Tuesday, the House committee issued a show-cause order requiring the CA justices to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for ordering the release of the so-called Ilocos Six.

The show-cause order against the three justices, according to Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, is intended to “equalize” the House situation, where it was earlier required by the appellate court to explain why it should not be cited for contempt for defying the writ it earlier issued to present the Ilocos Six before the Court.

With the continued detention, Mendoza said, the Ilocos Six were suffering undue emotional and psychological anguish not to mention the pitiable detention conditions. 

“We have already filed a writ of habeas corpus. That is more than enough. The writ of habeas corpus should be immediately executory,” Mendoza said.

He made the statement after the House committee rejected Marcos’ appeal to release the provincial executives on her recognizance. With Maricel V. Cruz

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