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Detaining Ilocos Norte employees ‘cruel, unusual,’ says Bongbong Marcos

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Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday tagged as “cruel” and “unusual” the detention of six employees of the Ilocos Norte government after House officials cited them in contempt.

Marcos, the younger brother of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, scored the continued detention of the employees when he paid them a visit at the House Legislative Building, 17 days since they were ordered to be held there.

“Ang mga dine-detain dito, ‘yung mga nagbo-bomba, ‘yung pumapatay ng tao. Ito, dahil mukhang hindi lang nagustuhan ang sagot nila du’n sa hearing, kinulong na lang sila,” the former senator said.

“We’re pursuing every legal recourse that will be available to us for them to be released. Whatever case that needs to be filed, then we will answer that in court. Sagutin na lang sa korte. Pero in the meantime, this is cruel and unusual ang nangyayari,” he added.

Marcos, who said the employees are unable to rest well in their current state, pointed out that there’s no point in keeping them in detention since it will unlikely change their replies to House officials.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, himself a former Ilocos Norte governor, moved for the detention of the employees after deeming their answers “dismissive” during the May 29 hearing on the provincial government’s allegedly irregular purchase of P66.45 million-worth of motor vehicles using tobacco funds.

Fariñas’ motion, approved without objections, applied to the following:

  • Pedro Agcaoili, chair of the bids and awards committee and the provincial and planning development unit;
  • Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer;
  • Edna Battulayan, accountant;
  • Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer; and
  • Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor, who are assigned at the treasury office.

The Court of Appeals (CA) Special Fourth Division had granted the employees’ petition seeking the writ of habeas corpus, and asked the House sergeant-at-arms, retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Detabali, to present them before the court.

The House leadership, however, has maintained that the CA has “no jurisdiction” on the matter, prompting the division, led by Acting Presiding Justice Stephen Cruz, to start its contempt of court proceedings against Detabali and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Sought for comment on this, Alvarez said: “That’s gross ignorance of the law. Mga gago ‘yang tatlong justices na ‘yan!”

During his visit on Thursday, Marcos said he also went to the Speaker’s office to drop off a letter asking the House leadership to respect the order of the CA. —NB, GMA News

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