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SC requires Senate to answer Balag’s petition challenging his detention for contempt

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By Rey Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) has required the Senate Tuesday to answer the petition of Aegis Juris Fraternity president Arvin Balag who challenged his detention for contempt relative to the legislative inquiry on the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio Castillo III.

After its full court session, the SC gave the Senate 10 days to file its answer.

Arvin Balag gestures during the Senate hearing on the death of University of Santo Tomas (US) law student Horacio Castillo III due to hazing in Pasay, November 6, 2017. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

Arvin Balag gestures during the Senate hearing on the death of University of Santo Tomas (US) law student Horacio Castillo III due to hazing in Pasay, November 6, 2017.
(Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

 

“The Court directed the respondents to comment on both the petition for certiorari and the application for a temporary restraining order within a nonextendible period of ten (10) days from notice of the order,” SC spokesman Theodore O. Te said in a press briefing.

In his petition, Balag told the SC that the contempt citation against him and his detention violated his constitutional rights as a person appearing in legislative inquiries.

He said his right to fair trial was violated because the Senate investigation was not in aid of legislation but “in aid of persecution.”

He also pointed out that he was denied equal protection of the law since there were also resource persons who refused to answer during the legislative inquiry but were not cited in contempt.

Named respondents in Balag’s petition were the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs, justice and human rights, constitutional amendments, and revision of codes, and Senate sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia Jr.

Balag has been detained since October 18 on a contempt citation issued by the Senate’s public order committee after repeatedly refusing to answer questions from the members of the panel on his presidency and membership in the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

He told the SC he had apologized for not answering questions and it had not been his intention to disrespect the committee members and the Senate.

He is among the respondents in the criminal cases filed by the parents of Castillo and the Manila police in connection with Castillo’s death on September 17.

But he had denied any criminal liability and had asked the Department of Justice to dismiss the charges against him.

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