MANILA, Philippines - Detained former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot is asking the Senate to free him as soon as possible after he promised to fully cooperate in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee probe on military corruption.
A day after he was arrested for contempt, Ligot wrote a letter to Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III through his lawyers.
In the letter, Ligot said he did not feign illness on Thursday when he and his wife, Erlinda, both failed to attend a hearing of the committee.
"As of last Wednesday, March 23, 2011, or a day before the hearing, I was already stricken with flu. What I did was to take Vitamin C and Bioflu, an over-the-counter drug, and took a rest," he said.
Ligot added that he did not see the need to have himself checked by a doctor "because it was after all just a flu."
He said he felt better the morning after on the day of the hearing but decided to rest anyway to not aggravate his situation, considering that he has diabetes and hypertension.
"At around lunchtime, when the Senate doctors arrived at our house, I was actually feeling much better mainly due to the effect of the medicines I earlier took," Ligot said.
"Perhaps, at the time I was being checked by Senate doctors, the medicines were taking effect."
The retired general reiterated that he never intended to evade the Senate inquiry, saying he has attended all but one of the committee hearings.
Ligot promised to cooperate in the investigation while stressing his appeal for the detention order against him to be lifted.
Meanwhile, according to the couple's lawyers, Mrs. Ligot will also attend the next Blue Ribbon hearing, but has to take a rest for 2 to 3 days as recommended by her doctor.
The lawyers from the Zulueta, Puno and Ferrer Law Offices also said they do not intend to bring the matter of lifting the detention order to the Supreme Court (SC).
Ligot was ordered detained at the Senate after he and his wife refused to attend Thursday's Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on military corruption, allegedly due to illness. The former military comptroller reportedly had flu and had severe palpitations and acute gastroenteritis.
Senate doctors were sent to check on the couple. They found that the former military comptroller is healthy but could not say if his wife was just feigning her illness.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the next Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, is a chance for Ligot to be released from detention.
No special treatment
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Jose Balajadia Jr. earlier said Ligot is not being given special treatment at the Senate despite having an air-conditioned detention room, regular medical check-up, meals and other things detainees in ordinary jails do not enjoy.
"We are not incarcerating a murderer or a criminal. The only reason for his incarceration is hindi siya nakikipag-cooperate sa amin. He did not kill anyone," he said.
If Ligot shows unruly behavior, Balajadia said the Senate "can always request that he be brought to the city jail." However, he said Ligot has been behaving well and cooperating with security personnel since he was detained last night.
Balajadia said the Senate would have to spend for 24-hour electricity in the room where Ligot is detained, his meals and medical check-up, and the overtime pay of his guards. He said this has been the case for past detainees like former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, who was tagged in the fertilizer fund scam.
Balajadia said Ligot will not be allowed to go out of the detention room and move around the Senate, except when he wants to get some sunlight. In that case, his guards will still be with him.
Only his family, lawyers, the Senate's doctors and nurses, and senators will be allowed to visit him.