Imee Marcos on "Ilocos Six" detention: "Lawmakers should not be lawbreakers"Jul 17, 2017
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos in condemning the House of Representatives' detention of the "Ilocos Six" pointed out that the House, as the legislative branch of government and thus lawmakers of the country, "should not be lawbreakers."
The "Ilocos Six" are six employees of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) who were summoned, along with two other employees, for a House hearing and detained on May 29.
It had been the third hearing into House Resolution No. 882 which initiated an investigation of the province's tobacco funds allegedly being "misused" for the purchase of motor vehicles through cash advances. These vehicles were distributed to farmers and barangay captains in 2011 and 2012.
Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo "Rudy" C. Fariñas, the main political rival of Marcos, has been leading the investigation. Fariñas had campaigned and won alongside Marcos in 2010, but was removed from the latter's "One Ilocos Norte" slate in 2013. He had also been with her during the distribution of said vehicles.
Fariñas cited the Ilocos Six in contempt and had them detained on grounds of "refusal to answer questions."
Their legal counsels however pointed out soon after that they had not refused to answer nor been evasive; rather, they had asked to see the original documents pertaining to the questions transactions before they could testify lest they commit perjury through falsified affirmations based on photocopied documents.
In an effort to free the Ilocos Six, Marcos and the employees' legal counsels filed petitions at the Court of Appeals (CA) for the writ of habeas corpus and their release on bail, both of which were ordered and granted.
"Pumunta kami para humingi ng piyansa dahil nga sa kalusugan at sumasamang kalagayan ng ating mga Ilocos Six, ngunit hindi kinilala ng ating Kongreso. Ang mga kagalang-galang na Congressman, ang sabi ay 'Ang Court of Appeals ay walang bisa,'" narrated Marcos.
"Not once, not twice, but three times, dinefy ang order of the Court ng Congress to produce and then release the Ilocos Six."
The House even issued a show-cause order against the three CA justices who ordered their release, but later withdrew this in place of a Motion for Inhibition.
"Pati ang Korte, tinatakot. Itong pamumulitika na noon sasabihin na pupunitin lamang ang order ng Korte. Lahat ng justice, 'bobo,' wala raw alam sa batas. Sadyang hindi pinakikinggan at tinatakot pati ang Chief Justice na siya'y ii-impeach," said Marcos, referring to statements made by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez against the judiciary.
The Supreme Court (SC), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA) have expressed concern over this conflict of powers, as well as San Beda Graduate School of Law dean Ranhilo Aquino; Atty. Pacifico Agabin, a former dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law; and De La Salle University Professor Antonio Contreras.
Likewise, Marcos loyalists question the detention and hope for release of the Ilocos Six. Mr. Philip Terry of the Bayanihang Bayan Movers-Pangasinan Organization of Genuine Inhabitants (BBM-POGI) said that "Congress is depriving the rights of the Ilocos Six... Isang malinaw na panggigipit, malinaw na harassment, at paglabag sa karapatan ng Ilocos Six ang nangyayari.
"We are praying that they will be released... kung pwede, ngayon na. Nawawalan na nga ng kredibilidad ang Kongreso, nawawalan na ng tiwala ang mga tao sa kanila dahil diyan."
Meanwhile, "Ilocos Six, palayain, ngayon na!" is the simple plea of the Katipunan ng Pilipinong Maka-bayan (KPM) and Kabataan Sandigan at Gabay ng Pilipino Inc. (KASAGPI), led by Mr. Roberto "Ka Obet" Dela Cerna.
Marcos also condemned the situation as a "hostage crisis" and lamented, "Hindi kasi pantay ang laban sa Kongreso.
"Kung sinong nag-akusa sa'yo, siya pa rin ang magsisiyasat. Siya pa rin ang maghahatol bilang judge, at sa bandang huli, tulad ng detention ng Ilocos Six, siya pa rin ang magkukulong at mag-uutos ikulong kung mali o ayon sa hindi nila gustong sagot. Iyan ang problema. Hindi pantay ang laban."
She expressed her desire to cooperate with the investigation if only on level ground, such as in Court.
"Sana bigyan tayo ng tinatawag na fair hearing," she said, "Sana hindi tayo magkatuluy-tuluyang ganito at mahahanap pa rin ang maganda at legal na asal para sa Kongreso, para sa Korte, at higit sa lahat, para sa ating Ilocos Six."