THE Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to explain what it described as the illegal transfer of convicts from the national penitentiary New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Jail.
Meanwhile, its Fifth Division, held in abeyance action on a petition lodged by Marephine Martizano on behalf of NBP inmate Michael Ong, one of 18 who were transferred to the NBI Jail for their alleged involvement in drug-related crimes in the national penitentiary.
In a 19-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Myra Garcia-Fernandez and concurred in by Associate Justices Noel Tijam and Mario Lopez, it directed “the public respondents through the Office of the Solicitor General [OSG] to submit consolidated comment on the petitioners in the [cases]within ten  days from receipt hereof.”
On December 15, 2014, a team composed of operatives from the NBI, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) and led by de Lima raided the NBP.
The raid reportedly yielded drugs, cash and luxury goods seized from high-profile inmates.
Ong and 17 other inmates were then transferred to the NBI headquarters in Manila, prompting his lawyers to seek de Lima’s clearance in a letter to visit his client.
The letter supposedly has not been acted upon by the Justice secretary.
In her petition, Martizano contended that Ong’s right to security is being violated or threatened or both by lawful acts and omissions of respondents de Lima and others.
She claimed that Ong’s rights under the Bill of Rights, particularly to security and counsel, have been trampled upon by the respondents’ acts of transferring him to the NBI Jail without authority and depriving him of any form of visit by his relatives and friends, including his lawyers.
Ong’s petition was merged with those of Noel Martinez, German Agojo, Willy Sy, Eugene Chua and Jojo Baligad.
“Considering that [their petitions]involve the same or related questions of fact and law, their consolidation is approved,” the CA ruling, dated March 11, 2015, stated.