Faeldon asks SC to void Senate detention order

MANILA -- Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order his release from detention at the Senate due to his refusal to participate in the legislative inquiry in connection with the PHP6.4-billion drug shipment from China.

In a 30-page petition for certiorari dated Jan. 23, 2018 but was released to media on Monday, Faeldon, through his lawyer Jose DiAo, asked the high court to declare as void and illegal the Senate Blue Ribbon committee's order last Sept. 7, 2017 to detain him.

The respondent's [Senate] order of arrest and detention order should be declared as null and void as it was issued pursuant to a proceeding without any legislative purpose or even intent of legislation but purely for persecution, grandstanding and self-confessed obsession, read the petition.

Faeldon said the respondents violated his right to due process because the committee issued the arrest order last September 7 without asking him to explain why he should not be cited for contempt for not appearing in the hearings.

DiAo said it has been more than six months after the filing of the Senate resolution to investigate the shabu shipment from July 2017 until even date, the author or any other member-senator of the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (SBRC) for that matter, has not filed any proposed amendatory law, or any proposed new law with reference to the subject matter thereof.

Faeldon added the arrest and detention order lacks factual and legal basis.

"Since the Rules of Procedure of the respondent SBRC speak only of a power to order the detention of a contumacious witness, it cannot be expanded to include the power to issue an order of arrest. Otherwise, the constitutional intent to limit the exercise of legislative investigations to the procedure established and published by the Senate or its committees will be for naught," the petition read.

The same petition noted that one of the SBRC members, Senator Panfilo Lacson even accused Faeldon of receiving PHP100 million as a 'welcome-gift' to allow the entry into the country of the PHP6.4-billion worth of shabu. However, he said the Senator failed to produce any evidence to prove his allegation.

He said the allegations against him is proof that the senators merely used, misused and abused their legislative privilege of inquiry for no other purpose than to malign, abuse, character-assassinate and besmirch the Petitioner's good name and reputation.

Named respondents in the petition were Blue Ribbon panel chairman Senator Richard Gordon and Senate sergeant-at-arms retired Major General Jose Balajadia Jr.

Pending adjudication of the petition, the newly appointed deputy administrator for operations of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) urged the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on his detention.

Faeldon has been detained at the Senate since September 10 last year. However, he was given a two-week furlough which allowed him to witness the birth of his child, undergo a medical check-up and take his oath as OCD official.

Earlier, the DOJ is dismissed drug charges filed against Faeldon and other former officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) over the smuggling of PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment into the country last May.

In a resolution, the DOJ found no probable cause to indict Faeldon and several others for numerous criminal charges filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in connection with the seized shabu shipment.

Dismissed were PDEA's complaint for conspiracy to import illegal drugs and protecting or coddling of drug traffickers under Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), negligence and tolerance under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, and corrupt practices of public officers under Section 3 of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

Source: Philippine News Agency