6 Ilocos Norte officials ask CA for temporary liberty

MANILA-- The camp of six provincial officials of Ilocos Norte asked the Court of Appeal for a temporary freedom from detention at the House of Representatives in connection to a habeas corpus plea.

The six petitioners - Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Development Office chairperson; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulayan, Provincial Treasurer's Office staff; Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Treasurer's Office staff; Genedine Jambaro, Provincial Treasurer's Office staff; and Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer, through veteran lawyer and former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, asked the CA's Fourth Division to issue an order granting them provisional bail after the House ignored the writ of habeas corpus and show cause order earlier issued by the appellate court.

The CA has ordered House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali to present before the court the six petitioners who have been detained since May 29 after being cited in contempt by the House committee on good government and public accountability during its probe into the alleged misuse of PHP66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles.

After Detabali failed to comply with the order after two hearings, the appellate court also issued a show cause order for Detabali to explain why he should not be cited in contempt of court as sought by petitioners.

"Notwithstanding orders of this Honorable Court, the respondent has not produced before the Court the persons of the petitioners," read the latest motion.

"The contempt order has been applied to indefinitely detain the petitioners since the members of the House committee on good government and public accountability are requiring an answer satisfactory to them," it added.

Petitioners further alleged that they were being subjected to "continuous torture" through the their "indefinite detention in degrading and John conditions and direct assaults on their dignity as human persons and blatant violations of their rights."

They alleged that their detention is baseless because they have answered questions of lawmakers during the hearing.

Mendoza questioned before the CA the detention, which they said was baseless because the petitioners answered questions of lawmakers during the hearing During the hearing, Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative and Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas presented documents bearing the signatures of the said officials that were used to buy mini-cabs, secondhand buses, and Foton trucks.

The six Ilocos Norte officials all claimed that they cannot remember the purchases anymore given the many transactions they have processed and also refused to comment on the documents and asked the committee to show them the original copies.

Source: Philippines News Agency