SC junks Imee Marcos, 'Ilocos 6' petition vs House contempt order

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 10 2018 05:03 PM | Updated as of Jul 10 2018 05:05 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has junked the petition of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and six provincial officials and personnel against the legality of the contempt order and subsequent detention of the so-called ‘Ilocos 6' at the House of Representatives.

In a media briefer, SC spokesperson Theodore Te said the high court en banc dismissed the petition against the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability. 

Marcos and the other petitioners had filed an omnibus petition for habeas corpus, prohibition, injunctive relief, and writ of Amparo (protection) against lawmakers. 

The court "found that the habeas corpus aspect was rendered moot and academic by the release of petitioners; the prohibition aspect finds no justification as the Court found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondents; and the writ of Amparo will not lie as there is no legal or factual justification therefore in the absence of an extralegal killing or an enforced disappearance, or threats thereof," the briefer read. 

The high court has yet to officially release the resolution, but highly-placed ABS-CBN News sources said it asserted that the separation of powers among the three branches of government enshrined in the Constitution directs the SC “to carefully tread on areas falling under the sole discretion of the legislative branch of the government.”

The following officials were detained upon orders of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability after they failed to disclose details about the allegedly questionable purchase of P66.45 million worth of motor vehicles by the provincial government:

- 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
- Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer 

In their petition, Marcos and the ‘Ilocos 6’ pointed out that the probe became “political” as they cited the absence of a preliminary determination of the propriety of the subject of legislative inquiry before the Committee on Rules. They also raised jurisdiction issues, which they said was in violation of the requirements under Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. 

The high court, however, ruled that Congress has the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation as expressly provided by the Constitution under Section 21, Article VI.

The petition was consolidated with that involving the habeas corpus plea of the ‘Ilocos 6’ which was first lodged with the Court of Appeals. On this issue, the high court ruled that there was no more basis to decide the case because the subject officials and personnel were already ordered released by the House.