CA dismissed prison execs’ habeas corpus plea for being moot, academic

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The Court of Appeals junked the habeas corpus plea of Bureau of Corrections officers who were cited in contempt, and eventually jailed, by the Senate for their supposed unsatisfactory answers during a committee hearing.

The CA noted that the prison officers involved were already released from their detention, hence, rendering their petition moot and academic.

“As ruled by the Supreme Court, a case or question is moot and academic when its purpose had become stale. An issue is also considered moot and academic when it ceases to present a justiciable controversy so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value,” the CA ruled.

In a petition for habeas corpus, BuCor legal chief Frederic Anthony Santos, records division head Ramoncito Roque, and Ursicio Cenas, medical officer at the New Bilibid Prison asked the CA to declare their arrest and detention as unlawful.

They stressed the Senate blue ribbon committee’s order citing them in contempt failed to specify the exact false testimony they were accused of committing.

“Petitioners were never informed of the charges against them, hence, they were not give the opportunity to explain or be heard,” read the petition.

The three were detained in rooms at the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, located at the basement of the Senate building. The blue ribbon committee is probing alleged irregularities inside the NBP.

But they claimed that they were telling truth when they appeared before the committee “and in a direct manner, it just so happen that the Blue Ribbon Committee insists on its own version of the truth to which it wants the respondents to testify.”

“In other words, the Respondent Committee is simply forcing the petitioners to say only what the Committee wants to hear,” read the petition.

“The Blue Ribbon Committee issued the arrest order in clear violation of Petitioners’ Constitutional right to due process and secondly, the arrest order was issued in violation of a person’s right to liberty being indefinite in nature. It is clear therefore that Respondent Sergeat-at-Arms has no authority whatsoever to arrest the Petitioners, hence, their continued detention is patently illegal,” read the petition.

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