by Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) is set to deliberate on Tuesday (July 18) on the petition of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and the six detained provincial officials for a Writ of Amparo against the “actual and threatened violations of their rights to liberty and security” by a committee of the House of Representatives.
In the case of Governor Marcos, she has been threatened with arrest and detention by the House committee on good government and public accountability should she refuse to attend its inquiry into the P66.45 million purchase of motor vehicles by the provincial government in 2011 and 2012.
The six provincial officials, on the other hand, have been detained since May 29 on a contempt citation for their alleged refusal to answer satisfactorily the questions aired by legislators during the inquiry.
While the Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the release of the six officials on a bail of P30,000 each, the House leadership refused to honor the release order and threatened them with detention until the adjournment of Congress in 2019.
The three CA justices who acted on the writ of habeas corpus filed by the six officials, now known as “Ilocos Six,” have been issued a show cause order by the committee to explain why they should not also be cited in contempt. They have also been threatened with disbarment.
The developments prompted Marcos and the six officials to file a petition with the SC last Thursday to protect them from arrest and continued detention, take cognizance of the habeas corpus case of the detained six provincial officials and to order their release, and to stop the House’s investigation on the province’s purchase of motor vehicles worth P66.45 million.
The detained provincial officials who joined Marcos in the petition were 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, which was enforced in 2007, 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.
The rule on the issuance of the writ states that “upon filing of the petition, the court, justice or judge shall immediately order the issuance of the writ if on its face it ought to issue. The clerk of court shall issue the writ under the seal of the court; or in case of urgent necessity, the justice or the judge may issue the writ under his or her own hand, and may deputize any officer or person to serve it.
Named respondents in the petition were House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, House committee on good government and public accountability chair and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel, and House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali.
Their petition is included in the agenda of today’s full court session of the SC.
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