Supreme Court to tackle today Imee’s petition vs House

By Edu Punay

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) is set to tackle today the petition of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and the six detained provincial officials against the House of Representatives’ inquiry on the capitol’s alleged misuse of the tobacco excise tax.

The high court has included the petition in its regular session and is expected to act on reliefs sought by Marcos, including issuance of a temporary restraining order stopping 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.

The SC is also expected to act on the plea of petitioners for issuance of a writ of amparo “to protect the actual and threatened violations and infringement of their constitutionally guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person” and immediately remand the case to the Court of Appeals (CA) as provided under court rules. 

Section 6 of the Rules of the Writ of Amparo requires immediate action of the court on petitions.

The provision states: “Upon the filing of the petition, the court, justice or judge shall immediately order the issuance of the writ if on its face it ought to issue. The clerk of court shall issue the writ under the seal of the court; or in case of urgent necessity, the justice or the judge may issue the writ under his or her own hand, and may deputize any officer or person to serve it. The writ shall also set the date and time for summary hearing of the petition which shall not be later than seven days from the date of its issuance.”

The petition has been raffled to a member in charge upon filing of the petition last July 13 as it included an urgent motion for raffle.

In their petition filed through lawyers led by former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, the six provincial officials who have been detained by the House for over a month now also asked the SC to order their release and assume jurisdiction on the writ of habeas corpus case pending before the CA.

They elevated the case to the high tribunal after the House repeatedly and deliberately defied the order of the CA Special Fourth Division for their release.

The petition named as respondents House majority leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, House committee chair and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel and House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali.

In seeking writ of amparo, petitioners cited the “prolonged interrogations, indefinite detention, coerced confessions, presumption of guilt and torture” employed by respondents in earlier hearings.

The so-called Ilocos 6 remain in detention at the House 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.”

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