• Former OSG: House ‘persecuting Ilocos 6’

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    The House of Representatives is “persecuting” the “Ilocos 6” in violation of their constitutional rights, according to former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, also lawyer for Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and the “Ilocos 6.”

    The “Ilocos 6” are Ilocos Norte provincial workers Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Development Office chairman; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulaya, Encarnacion Gaor and Genedine Jambaro, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; and Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer.

    Marcos last week led the six employees in filing a petition, asking the Supreme Court (SC) to take jurisdiction over a case that accuses the workers of being behind the allegedly anomalous purchase of more than P66 million in motor vehicles under the governor’s watch.

    In the 11-page petition filed last July 19, the governor made an urgent plea for issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO), which shall halt a probe by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability of the P66.45-million vehicle procurement using tobacco excise taxes.

    They also pleaded for the House panel to stop its inquiry into the case and to issue a writ of amparo to stop the subpoena that forces Marcos to testify in Congress on July 25 on the purchase.

    The petition named as respondents Rodolfo Fariñas, Johnny Pimentel and House Sergeant-at-Arms Roland Detabali.

    Mendoza cited “grave and irreparable injury” on Marcos should the High Court fail to issue the TRO in time for the resumption of the House investigation tomorrow.

    “Forcing Gov. Marcos against her will to attend an unconstitutional inquiry devoid of any legality is an unquantifiable injury. It coerces Gov. Marcos to attend an inquiry led by her accuser, Respondent Fariñas [House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte congressman], who has maligned and prejudged her of violation of Republic Act 7171,” the petition read.

    It said the public pronouncements of House committee chairman and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel already declare that the Ilocos Norte governor is guilty of the charges against her in connection with the vehicle purchase.

    “Clearly it is the height of injustice if Gov. Marcos will be forced to attend a proceeding that is not only unconstitutional, but also [prosecutorial]–a proceeding that condemns rather than hears,” the document read.

    Marcos pleaded that there is utmost necessity for issuance of a TRO to stop the House’s order for her arrest if she fails to appear in the hearing on Tuesday.

    “Respondent committee on good government need not issue an arrest order for it to commit grave abuse of discretion nor to violate petitioners’ right to liberty. This is because the inquiry has already been purged of legitimacy at its inception and through the actuations of the respondents in the subsequent hearings. Consequently, Gov. Marcos cannot be forced to attend an unconstitutional inquiry,” she pointed out.

    “Simply put, forcing Gov. Marcos against her will to attend an illegal and unconstitutional inquiry is a violation of her right to liberty,” it was pointed out.

    The petitioners also asked the High Court to order the release of the six workers and assume the case on the writ of habeas corpus case pending before the Court of Appeals, whose earlier order for the release of the “Ilocos 6” was ignored by the House.

    Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Justice Diosdado Peralta have inhibited from the case.

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