• “ILOCOS 6’ CASE REACHES SC

    Imee: Fariñas eyeing Ombudsman’s post

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    Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos on Thursday bared what could be behind Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas’ alleged undue interest in continuing to cause the detention of six workers of the provincial government.

    Fariñas, according to Marcos, is eyeing to become the Ombudsman after his third and last term in Congress ends.

    She recalled how she reconciled with Fariñas in 2010 only to again have a falling out with him later on because of the lawmaker’s request for his daughter to succeed his post in the First District of Ilocos Norte.

    The governor also on Thursday filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking the freedom of the employees or the “Ilocos 6” from detention at the House of Representatives.

    Marcos faced the media after filing the petition, telling them that the issue “started from local politics, so we should just bring the fight back to Ilocos Norte.”

    The “Ilocos 6” have been detained at the House since May after being cited in contempt by lawmakers for their refusal to shed light on alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy vehicles under the watch of the incumbent governor.

    In the 67-page petition, Marcos asked the SC to take jurisdiction over the case, stop the House of Representatives from conducting a legislative inquiry and issue a writ of amparo to stop a subpoena against her and forcing her to testify in Congress.

    The petition named as respondents Fariñas, House majority leader and Ilocos Norte First District representative; House committee chairman and Surigao del Sur Second District Rep. Johnny Pimentel; and House Sergeant-at-Arms Roland Detabali.

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

    ‘Fishing expedition’

    They prayed for the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) halting a probe by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.

    In the issues raised, the petitioners asked the High Court to order the release of the six employees and assume the writ of habeas corpus case pending before the Court of Appeals (CA), whose earlier order for their release was ignored by the House.

    On the writ of amparo plea, they asked the same “to protect the actual and threatened violations and infringement of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person.”

    The petitioners pointed out that the inquiry in the House of Representatives became political as they cited 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.

    They accused the House of doing the probe “not in aid of legislation” as it should be but rather a “fishing expedition to determine the guilt of respondent Fariñas’ political enemies” in violation of petitioners’ right to due process.

    There has been a rift between Marcos and Farinas, former partymates in the Nacionalista Party (NP).

    Marcos, however, did not issue a Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (Cona) to Fariñas for the 2016 elections–a required document to make Fariñas the official NP candidate for the congressional seat of the First District of Ilocos Norte.

    “The legislative inquiry has been purged of any legitimacy when the respondents blatantly violated basically everything that is legal — the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, the Rules Governing Inquiries and the lawful orders of the Honorable Court of Appeals,” the petitioners said.

    They pointed out that the “Ilocos 6” were suffering already from alleged torture and intimidation.

    “The conditions of confinement are degrading and inhuman–effectively a continuing psychological torture inflicted…They were not provided food and mattresses and beddings. The detention [cell]was a stockroom with very poor ventilation and turned hastily into a detention room,” the petitioners said.

    On the plea for the writ of amparo, they cited as bases the alleged “prolonged interrogations, indefinite detention, coerced confessions, presumption of guilt and torture” employed by respondents in earlier hearings.

    “The ‘Ilocos 6’ remain 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,” the petitioners said.

    “While ostensibly the writ of amparo pertains to situations relating to extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, the applicability of the same to the situation faced by petitioners in this case is supported by the underlying intent and premise considered by the honorable court at the time that the remedy was conceived and promulgated,” they added.

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