MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) en banc ordered the Senate to answer the petition of Aegis Juris fratman Arvin Balag questioning his detention inside the premises of the upper chamber.
“The Court directed the respondents to comment on both the petition for certiorari and the application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice of the order,” SC Spokesperson Theodore Te said during a news briefing on Tuesday, November 7.
It was actually this petition that got Balag more detention time. Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chairman Panfilo Lacson seemed irked that Balag sought SC intervention.
“Alam mo Arvin (You know Arvin), as chair I was inclined to talk to my colleagues to lift the contempt charges para ma-release ka na (so you could be released). But then you filed a petition for certiorari with prayer for TRO, so nobody wants to lose by default. So we’ll fight it out in the Supreme Court and in the meantime, you will stay longer in the Senate premises,” Lacson told Balag during a Senate hearing on Monday, November 6.
Balag’s petition was submitted to the SC on October 25 or 7 days after he was detained. Balag has now been in detention for 21 days.
He had been identified as the Grand Praefectus of the Aegis Juris fraternity, and was said to have delivered the final blow on 22-year-old neophyte Horacio Castillo III, who fell unconscious and died on September 17. (READ: The different angles in Atio Castillo’s hazing case)
In his petition, Balag said there are “serious constitutional questions” surrounding his detention.
He claimed that the Senate inquiry was not done in aid of legislation but “in aid of prosecution.”
He also said it was similar to compelling him to be a witness against himself, “in gross and wanton disregard of his constitutional right to due process of law.” (READ: How Aegis Juris fratmen are defending themselves in Atio Castillo slay case)
Balag added that he was unjustly pressured to participate in a non-criminal proceeding. This, he said, would reduce the criminal investigation to a “mere formality.”
“The guilt of the accused may well be established during the legislative investigation by means of evidence produced by petitioner himself. This is not and ought not to be the law,” the Aegis Juris fratman said.
Aside from seeking a TRO and asking the SC to end his detention, Balag is also seeking the nullification of the contempt charges against him by the Senate.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said they will study the petition.
Balag has already filed his counter-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is hearing the complaint against him for murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law. His affidavit, however, does not address key accusations against him but instead invokes definitions of the murder provision.
He said Castillo’s parents must first prove that there was abuse of superior strength in the death of their son. – Rappler.com