House to defy court order to release Ilocos Norte Provincial employees

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2017 09:09 PM

MANILA - Despite a release order from the Court of Appeals, the House of Representatives will continue to detain six Ilocos Norte Provincial employees held by the chamber for refusing to respond in a congressional inquiry.

This was confirmed by House Sergeant-at-Arms Roland Detabali amid persistent bids by Ilocos Norte authorities to enforce the court's release order.

In a message to the media, Detabali quoted the House leadership as saying: 

"Please take note that the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) has filed an MR ad cautelam (for caution, meaning without surrendering our position that the CA has no jurisdiction over our contempt order of the 6 detainees). Hence, if anyone attempts to serve the Order of Release, please continue to ignore or disregard it. Thanks!"

The six employees- Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaor, Josephine Calajate, Eden Battulayan, Evangeline Tabuluog, and Pedro Agcaoili Jr.- were being investigated for the Ilocos Norte provincial capitol's purchase of motor vehicles sourced from tobacco excise taxes, and were cited in contempt by Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas for "refusing to answer questions" and being "evasive."

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos has herself been summoned to the next hearing of the committee.

Detabali said the six provincial employees were detained where Ronnie Dayan, a former driver and lover of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, was detained months ago. Dayan was a witness in the House investigation of the narcotics trade in the national penitentiary. 

Detabali assured the media that the employees were being treated well, were given free access to lawyers and doctors of their choice, and were allowed to use cellular phones, laptops and wi-fi connection. The employees are escorted in daily walking exercises, he said.

The Court of Appeals has already issued a show cause order addressed to Detabali.

Earlier, the CA warned Detabali of being cited in contempt if he ignored the order for the third time. 

Previously, the CA directed the House Sergeant-at-Arms "to release immediately the herein Petitioners.