Marcos lawyer presses CA to order release of ‘Ilocos 6’
Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, counsel for the Marcos family, said the House of Representatives was committing an “act of torture” in indefinitely detaining six public officials working for Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
Mendoza, who acts as lawyer for the six provincial officials, pressed the Court of Appeals (CA) on June 23 to immediately issue a writ of habeas corpus and order his clients’ release from nearly a month of detention.
“As their continued detention constitutes torture, petitioners as victims of torture are entitled to a speedy and expeditious resolution of the petition for habeas corpus,” said Mendoza, who was solicitor general under Marcos’ martial law regime which saw tens of thousands of arbitrary arrests, detention and torture.
Through a writ of habeas corpus, an illegally detained person is brought to court so the judge can decide whether or not to order his release.
“The eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws is nonchalantly waylaid into oblivion by lawmakers in open defiance of the rule of law,” Mendoza said.
He said the six provincial officials were being detained for an indefinite period to force them to give the answers that Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas wants about the alleged misuse of tobacco excise tax funds by the Ilocos Norte provincial government.
Mendoza said Fariñas cannot threaten to hold the six officials indefinitely since the House rules do not allow the indefinite detention of witnesses who are held in contempt during legislative inquiries.
Under the rules on legislative inquiries, those who are cited in contempt for “acting in a disrespectful manner” or for “undue interference” during hearings may be detained for not more than 10 days.
Mendoza said the House committee on good government and public accountability did not have grounds to cite the six officials in contempt for supposedly refusing to answer, insisting that the provincial officials only asked for time to review the records since they could no longer recall the transactions.
Last June 9, the appellate court granted the provincial officials’ request for bail, but the House has defied the order and even refused to receive copies of the order.
The CA’s Special Fourth Division and the House have since traded show cause orders to compel the other side to explain why they should not be cited in contempt.
The CA wanted the House committee on good government to explain why it should not be cited in contempt for defying its orders.
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