LAWMAKERS will treat Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos with respect when she attends the congressional probe on her provincial government’s alleged misuse of P66.45 million in public funds representing Ilocos Norte’s share of excise tax collections, a House official said Monday.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said Marcos would not be treated like a prisoner as she would be allowed to go around her detention cell at the Batasan Complex, and that she would still be able to perform her duties as a public servant.
He made his statement even as country’s oldest lawyers’ group on Monday warned the House of the risks of damaging judicial institutions for its refusal to heed the lawful orders of the Court of Appeals.
The orders are in connection with the habeas corpus case filed by the six officials of the Ilocos Norte provincial government who have been detained for more than a month for alleged contempt.
The Philippine Bar Association backed the appellate court in its clash with the House of Representatives over the case of the so-called “Ilocos Six.”
The PBA called on the House leadership and the House committee on good government and public accountability to recall the show-cause order against three justices of the CA’s Special Fourth Division that ordered the release of the provincial officials.
“We must defend as sacrosanct the Constitutional principles of separation of powers and judicial independence. Otherwise, we risk damaging our judicial institutions and substituting tyranny for the rule of law,” says the statement signed by PBA president Fina Bernadette Dela Cuesta-Tantuico.
Meanwhile, retiring Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes on Monday exhorted his colleagues in the Supreme Court to continue the fight for judicial independence.
“Protect the Supreme Court from the unsavory meddling of those who are trying to taint its integrity,” Reyes said in a speech during his last flag-raising ceremony in the high court.
Pimentel, together with House Sergeant-at-Arms Ronald Detabali, showed to reporters on Monday the supposed detention room of Marcos on the third floor of the House’s main building.
“This will be fully prepared. It is a spacious room,” Pimentel said referring to the 80-square- meter detention room that will be fully air-conditioned and have its own bathroom with a water heater.
While in detention, Pimentel said, Marcos could still do her work as governor.
“The room will have Wi-Fi, she will have access to the internet. She is also allowed to bring in her cellphone,” Pimentel said.
The House is said to have also prepared a detention room for Court of Appeals Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, whom Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wanted to be arrested for granting the writ of habeas corpus for the Ilocos Six.
The detention room of the three justices would be the former office of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc., which is also located on the third floor of the Batasan Complex’s main building.
Pimentel said the House would treat the “detainees” with liberality.
“There are no restrictions. The Ilocos Six officials detained here are allowed to accept visitors as long as it is during office hours, Monday to Friday 8 to 5,” he said.
“I think last week or two weeks ago, General Detabali allowed one of them to hold a birthday party. They also have a doctor visiting them from time to time to take care of their medical condition, but they are also allowed to have themselves checked up by their personal doctors.”
Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, Marcos’ legal counsel, said she will show up during the congressional hearing on July 25.
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