MANILA – The Court of Appeals has issued a writ of habeas corpus for the Ilocos 6, the six officials of Ilocos Norte cited for contempt and detained by the House of Representatives for their failure to testify at an inquiry.
The House had been hearing alleged anomalies by the Ilocos Norte government’s use of P66 million to purchase motor vehicles using the province’s share in the tobacco excise tax.
In a show-cause order issued Monday, the CA directed the House sergeant at arms to present in court the six Ilocos Norte officials, warning the sergeant at arms he could be cited for contempt if he fails to do so.
None of the congressmen who voted to cite the Ilocos 6 for contempt and detain them was impleaded in the petition at the CA.
Among those who attended Monday’s hearing at the Court of Appeals on the petition for writ of habeas corpus was Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
The governor said she meant to show solidarity with the provincial government employees detained in Congress.
According to her, politics was apparently behind the House inquiry into the use of the tobacco excise tax, with the inquiry being pushed by the province’s congressman, Rodolfo Fariñas, a political rival.
Marcos expressed dismay that the chamber was being used for political agendas.
The governor expressed hope her employees could be freed immediately.
House to challenge CA order
Fariñas said the House of Representatives will challenge the order of the CA. He said Assistance Solicitor General Rex Bernardo Pascual, in behalf of the House, has filed a motion for reconsideration questioning the jurisdiction of the CA and explaining that the chamber has its own rules to follow.
Fariñas also said that House sergeant-arms Roland Detabali failed to attend the hearing last week because he was with the congressmen in their “familiarization and inspection trip” in northern and central Luzon since June 1.
“One of the duties and powers of the sergeant-arms is to secure the safety of the members while in the House premises or in any other place as the Speaker may direct,” Farinas said.
“The sergeant-at-arms takes his orders from the Speaker and/or the House of Representatives, and no court may order him to do anything without leave of the House,” he added.
He reiterated that the six Ilocos Norte local government employees were detained “for contemptuous acts against the committee on good government and public accountability.”
“The Court of Appeals, or any court for that matter, cannot order the sergeant-at-arms without authority of the House of Representatives,” he added.