3 persons cited in contempt by Senate panel probing BuCor problems seek CA help

The first page of the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by the three persons cited in contempt by the Senate panel looking into the problems in BuCor. /Moira Encina/Eagle News/

(Eagle News)–The three resource persons who were cited in contempt by a Senate panel probing the problems in the. Bureau of Corrections have sought the help of the Court of Appeals and filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In filing the petition on Wednesday, Sept. 18, Ramoncito Roque, Fredric Anthony Santos and Ursicio Cenas said the blue ribbon committee violated their right to due process when it supposedly did not give them the opportunity to be heard.

Roque is the chief of the records and documents section of BuCor, Santos the chief of the BuCor legal unit, and Cenas a doctor at the New Bilibid Prison hospital.

Roque was one of those accused by Yolanda Camelon, the partner of an inmate at Bilibid, of receiving her P50,000 payment for the release of her loved one from jail under the GCTA law, but Roque, during the Senate panel hearings, said he held on to the money only for a few days then returned it.

Santos, on the other hand, had said he was unsure if others at BuCor knew about the GCTA law, something that irked panel chair Senator Richard Gordon.

Both Santos and Roque have been suspended by the Ombudsman pending a probe into the GCTA law mess.

Cenas for his part was accused by inmate and former Valencia, Bukidnon Mayor Jose Galario Jr. and his daughter of receiving money from them in exchange for the release of medical tests, prescriptions and others.

He, however, denied receiving any money from them.

The panel unanimously voted to approve citing the three in contempt for “continuously lying,” upon the motion of Senator Bato dela Rosa.

According to Cenas, Roque and Santos, the Sept. 12 order citing them in contempt “does not show exactly” how they “testified falsely and evasively.”

“Petitioners insist that they are testifying truthfully and in a direct manner. It just so happen (sic) that the blue ribbon committee insists on its own version of the truth to which it wants the respondents to testify,” they said.

The three also took offense at the order that supposedly said they would be detained “until such time that (they) will appear and give (their) testimony or otherwise purge (themselves) of that contempt,” citing a Supreme Court ruling that supposedly said that an “indefinite and unspecified period of detention will amount to excessive restriction and will certainly violate any person’s right to liberty.”

Named respondents to the petition were Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Rene Samonte Jr., Gordon and Senate President Tito Sotto.