By Rey Panaligan
Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee R. Marcos asked the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to protect her from threats of arrest by a committee of the House of Representatives, take cognizance of the habeas corpus case of six provincial officials detained since May 29 on a contempt citation and to order their release, and to stop the House’s investigation on the province’s purchase of motor vehicles worth P66.45 million.
She was joined in the 67-page SC petition by the detained provincial officials Pedro S. Agcaoili Jr., Encarnacion A. Gaor, Josephine P. Calajate, Genedine D. Jambaro, Eden C. Battulayan and Evangeline C. Tabulog, now known as ‘Ilocos Six.’
They pleaded for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the House investigation and the issuance of a Writ of Amparo “to protect the actual and threatened violations and infringement of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person.”
A Writ of Amparo is a special constitutional writ available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.
Named respondents in the petition were House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, House of Representatives committee on good government and public accountability chairperson and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel, and House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali.
Marcos and the six detained officials told the SC that the House inquiry violated the requirements under Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution.
“The legislative inquiry has been purged of any legitimacy when the respondents blatantly violated basically everything that is legal – the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, the Rules Governing Inquiries, and the lawful orders of the Honorable Court of Appeals,” they said.
On a writ of habeas corpus, the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the release of the six detained officials on a P30,000 bail each.
But the House leadership defied the CA order and continuously refused to release the detained provincial officials.
Even the three CA justices who acted on the petition for habeas corpus and issued the release order have been asked the explain why they, too, should not be cited in contempt.
They were also threatened with disbarment and the abolition of the CA.
The three CA justices informed the SC of the show cause order issued by the House committee.
This led Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. to ask the House leadership to recall the show cause order and avail themselves of the legal remedies under the Rules of Court.
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