THE Supreme Court will tackle today the petition of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and the six detained provincial officials seeking to stop the House of Representatives’ inquiry into the alleged misuse of the province’s tobacco excise funds.
The SC has included the petition in its regular en banc session today and is expected to act on reliefs sought by Marcos including issuance of restraining order stopping the investigation of the House committee on good government and public accountability into the alleged anomaly in the purchase of P66.45 million worth of motor vehicles by the provincial government.
The high tribunal is likewise expected to act on the plea of the petitioners for 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” and their plea for the court to assume jurisdiction over the habeas corpus case of the Ilocos Six pending before the Court of Appeals.
The petition for amparo was raffled to a member in charge upon filing of the petition last Thursday, July 13, as it included an urgent motion for raffle.
In their petition filed through lawyers led by former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, the six provincial officials who have been detained by the House for over a month now after being cited in contempt during a hearing also asked the SC to order their release and assume jurisdiction over the writ of habeas corpus case pending before the CA.
The Ilocos 6 employees are Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Development Office chairperson; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulayan, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; Genedine Jambaro, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; and Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer.
They elevated the case to the High Tribunal after the House repeatedly and deliberately defied the order of the CA’s Special Fourth Division for their release.
The petition named as respondents House majority leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, House committee chair and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel and House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali.
In seeking a writ of amparo, petitioners cited the “prolonged interrogations, indefinite detention, coerced confessions, presumption of guilt and torture” employed by respondents in earlier hearings.
The so-called “Ilocos 6” have been in detention at the House for over one month already while Marcos “has been threatened with arrest and incarceration in a ‘detention chamber’ by the respondents if she refused to participate in proceedings where her failure to answer questions in a matter satisfactory to respondents will lead to a similar fate of indefinite detention.”
Petitioners also assailed the conduct of the House inquiry, saying it was railroaded and violated their constitutional rights.
They cited the absences of preliminary determination on the propriety of the subject of legislative inquiry before the House committee on rules, and determination on jurisdiction by the investigating committee in violation of the requirements under Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.
Petitioners also told the SC that the House committee has subjected the six employees to psychological torture and intimidation.