CA starts contempt moves against House for not releasing ‘Ilocos Six’

>> Thursday, June 22, 2017

By Freddie Lazaro

LAOAG CITY -- The Court of Appeals has initiated contempt of court proceedings against the leadership of the House of Representatives and the Chamber’s sergeant-at-arms for their refusal to present before it the six detained employees of the Ilocos Norte provincial government.
Last week, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos said she is determined in fighting for the release of her employees who are now known as the “Ilocos Six” – who were ordered detained by House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas since May 29.
A signature campaign has also been launched last week by the provincial government to have the detained workers freed.
The show cause order issued by the CA’s special fourth division was addressed to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and sergeant-at-arms retired Lt. Gen. Roland M. Detabali.
The order was issued late last week after Detabali defied the appellate court’s directive to present the six detained petitioners – Genedine D. Jambaro, Encarnacion A. Gaor, Josephine P. Calajate, Eden C. Battulayan, Evangeline C. Tabuluog, and Pedro S. Agcaoili Jr. – before it in a habeas corpus proceeding.
Detabali also defied the CA’s order for the release of the six detained employees.
In a press statement, lawyer Butch Catubay who represents the six detained employees said that the CA had ruled that it has jurisdiction over the petition since it is a “matter of a habeas corpus case.”
He said the CA had stressed the decisions of the appellate court are “concurrent with the Supreme Court and the Regional Trial Court when it comes to habeas corpus cases.”
Earlier, Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan member and lawyer Vicentito Lazo echoed Catubay’s statement saying, “it is not a question of ‘powers and jurisdiction’ between CA and SC for it is a habeas corpus case,” and that “under an existing law the CA has jurisdiction over the said cases.”
 “We must follow the rule of law,” he added.
On June 8, the CA’s special fourth division granted the plea of the six detained employees for their release from detention.
But the CA sheriff said he was not allowed entry at the House of Representatives to serve the order.
In its ruling, the fourth division of the appellate court said  Detabali should explain why he should not be cited in contempt for disobeying its order to present the detained officials.
The House committee on good government and public accountability, which is investigating the alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles, cited them in contempt.  Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said they would continue to hold the officials “until they stop their contemptuous act of giving evasive answers, tantamount to refusal to answer.”
The CA sheriff accompanied by the lawyers of the ‘Ilocos Six’ returned to the House of Representative Tuesday to serve once again the order of release of the six employees.
 Special Fourth Division Acting Chairperson Stephen C. Cruz and Associate Appellate Justices Edwin D. Sorongon and Nina G. Antonion-Valenzuela granted the petitioner the release order Monday afternoon, directing the release of the "Ilocos Six'' who sought a petition for the writ of habeas corpus.
 Chairman of the House committee on good government and accountability and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Ty-Pimentel, said they have not received an order from the Speaker to “immediately release” the six employees, thus declining once again the CA order.
 Detabali initially argued that cases regarding habeas corpus are not under jurisdiction of the CA, but rather under the Supreme Court. 
 Thus, the CA once again directed the House Sergeant-at-Arms "to release immediately the “Ilocos Six.”
 The six employees were being investigated for the Capitol's purchase of motor vehicles sourced from tobacco excise taxes and were cited in contempt by Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo "Rudy" C. Fariñas for "refusing to answer questions" and being "evasive"
Family members of six employees were almost prohibited to visit, strictly imposing short visiting hours.


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