THE Supreme Court en banc ordered the Senate on Tuesday to comment on the habeas corpus petition filed by a member of the Aegis Juris, its spokesman said.
In a press conference, lawyer Theodore Te said the Court directed the respondents to comment on both the petition for habeas corpus and the application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice of the order.
Named respondents in the case filed by Arvin Balag, grand praefectus of Aegis Juris Fraternity and a respondent in the killing of neophyte Horacio Castillo 3rd, were the Senate Committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Justice and Human Rights, and on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, and Major Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr., in his capacity as Senate sergeant-at-arms.
Balag filed the petition before the High Court after he was cited in contempt and ordered detained at the Senate for refusing to answer questions in one of its hearings on the death of Castillo during the fraternity’s initiation rites in Manila on September 16. Castillo died the next day.
In the hearing last Monday, Senator Panfilo Lacson said he would have ordered the release of Balag if not for the petition the Aegis Juris leader filed before the Supreme Court.
Balag asked the high tribunal to issue a writ of certiorari declaring the resolution authorizing his detention and the issuance of the contempt order null and void and void ab initio for being unconstitutional and for being issued with abuse of authority.
“Nobody wants to lose by default, so we will fight it out in the Supreme Court and in the meantime, you will stay longer in the Senate premises,” Lacson told Balag who claimed that he ceased being fraternity head after he left UST and transferred to Lyceum College of Law last August.
Aegis Juris member Mark Anthony Ventura, who applied for the Witness Protection Program (WPP), identified Balag as the one who inflicted the last paddle blow before Castillo lost consciousness. JAIME PILAPIL