Fariñas declared ‘persona non grata’ in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY — Eight members of the provincial board declared on Tuesday Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas as “persona non grata”.

The declaration stemmed from Fariñas’ House Resolution No. 882 that paved the way for the conduct of investigation by the committee on good government and public accountability into the provincial government’s alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds amounting to PHP66.45 million.

The board members who voted to declare the solon as persona non grata are: Vicentito Lazo, Da Vinci Crisostomo, Mariano Marcos II, Ramon Gaoat, James Paul Nalupta, Donald Nicolas, Paulino Baltazar and Rogelio Balbag.

Technically, the legal term “persona non grata” means “unwelcome person.” It implies that a certain individual [declared as persona non grata] is being prohibited by the government from entering its jurisdiction after their ordinances and laws were violated by that individual.

However, lawyer-board member Da Vinci M. Crisostomo clarified that the motion “persona non grata” on Fariñas does not prohibit him from entering the province but it was made merely to “manifest or express our sentiments” toward the lawmaker.

“Well, this is in the form of a resolution, and under the parliamentary rules, it is a manifestation or expression of our feelings towards the subject person. So, ang gustong palabasin ng SP, whose members were directly elected by the people of the Province of Ilocos Norte and representing our constituents, ay yung mga damdamin at saloobin ng buong probinsiya,” he added.

In a text statement, Farinas, who is out of the country, said the declaration “only applies in diplomatic relations or aliens.”

“I will file cases against them for damages for the violation of my constitutional rights, as well as for violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act for causing me undue injury thru evident bad faith,” he said.

As the duly elected representative of Ilocos Norte’s first district and House Majority Floor Leader, Fariñas explained “no one, especially the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members, can declare me, or any other citizen of this country, a persona non grata. Not even convicted criminals are declared as such.”

The Ilocos Norte solon earlier initiated a congressional inquiry regarding an alleged misuse of tobacco funds under Republic Act (RA) 7171, citing in contempt six employees of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte.

Dubbed as “Ilocos Six”, the six employees are continuously detained under the custody of the House since May 29.

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability as well as the Sergeant-at-Arms have defied the Court of Appeals (CA)’s order for the six employees’ provisional release, with Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez even accusing three CA justices of “gross ignorance of the law.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) has backed up CA, calling the House to reconsider the show cause order issued against the justices who issued the release order of the “Ilocos Six”.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) also released a statement emphasizing adherence to the “rule of law”, further reiterating that the CA has the “authority to grant in habeas corpus proceedings unless detained person is under a charge for an offense punishable by death.”

In addition, the president of the IBP–Ilocos Norte Chapter had initially expressed that “if the writ of habeas corpus was already issued, then it should be immediately executory, even pending appeal or motion for reconsideration, owing to the fact that the life and liberty of the detained persons are at stake.” Leilanie Adriano/PNA-northboundasia.com