Imee Marcos, Ilocos 6 petition SC for TRO on House inquiry
The camp of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and six detained provincial officials urged the Supreme Court to stop what it described as “not only unconstitutional but also persecutory” inquiry by the House of Representatives on the alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds, which is set to resume on Tuesday (July 25).
In an 11-page motion, a copy of which was provided to the media over the weekend reiterated the Marcos camp’s urgent plea for issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the investigation of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on the alleged anomaly in the purchase of P66.45 million worth of motor vehicles by the provincial government.
Their counsel, former Solicitor General Estelito 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 probe.
“Forcing Gov. Marcos against her will to attend an unconstitutional inquiry devoid of any legality is an unquantifiable injury,” the motion stated. “It coerces Gov. Marcos to attend an inquiry led by her accuser, Respondent Fariñas [Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, the House majority leader] who has maligned and prejudged her of violation of Republic Act No 7171.”
“Clearly it is the height of injustice if Gov. Marcos will be forced to attend a proceeding that is not only unconstitutional, but also persecutory – a proceeding that condemns rather than hears,” the motion added.
Mendoza said the governor could not be forced to attend the hearings.
“Simply put, forcing Gov. Marcos against her will to attend an illegal and unconstitutional inquiry is a violation of her right to liberty,” Mendoza said in the motion.
The House leaders even showed to the media the detention room prepared for Marcos.
Petitioners filed the comment in response to the opposition filed by Fariñas.
They rebutted the claim of the lawmakers that the TRO would violate the principle of separation of powers of the judiciary and the legislature.
Petitioners cited jurisprudence, like the 1935 landmark case of Angara v. Electoral Commission, which held that “when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.”
Petitioners also contested the argument of the House leaders that their petition should be dismissed on the ground of forum shopping because the writ of habeas corpus case was already pending before the Court of Appeals.
Marcos and the so-called Ilocos 6 argued that there was no forum shopping because they were asking the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over the same habeas corpus case after the House earlier defied the ruling and orders of the Court of Appeals.
The SC deferred action on the petition filed by Marcos and the Ilocos 6 after three associate justices, including the justice in charge, inhibited themselves from the case.
The case was raffled to Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, but he recused himself from the case for being a relative of one of the respondents, Fariñas.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and newly appointed Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. also inhibited themselves from the case after earlier issuing a joint statement calling on the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to recall its show cause order against the three Court of Appeals justices who ordered the release of the Ilocos 6.
In their petitions filed last July 13, Marcos and the Ilocos 6 asked the SC to stop the House probe on alleged anomaly in the purchase of P66.45 million worth of motor vehicles by the provincial government.
They sought issuance of a writ of amparo “to protect the actual and threaten violations and infringement of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person” and immediately remand the case to the Court of Appeals as provided under court rules.
Petitioners cited the “prolonged interrogations, indefinite detention, coerced confessions, presumption of guilt and torture” employed by respondents in earlier hearings.
The Ilocos 6 have been detention at the House for over one month, 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.” /atm
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