In this November 06, 2017 photo, Aegis Juris fraternity leader Arvin Balag leaves the session hall after the Senate hearing on the hazing incident case. (INQUIRER / EDWIN BACASMAS)
In the spirit of Christmas and to avoid a Constitutional crisis during the holiday revelries, the Senate has decided to follow the Supreme Court (SC) order to release Aegis Juris fraternity leader Arvin Balag Thursday evening.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, confirmed that he was informed by the Senate Office of Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) of Balag’s release.
“While we reserve our right to invoke the inherent power of the Senate (and Congress) to compel witnesses and resource persons to testify in our inquires in aid of legislation as provided for under our rules and anchored on Sec 21, Art VI of the Constitution, we opted in the meantime to respect and comply with the SC resolution ordering the interim release of Balag even before its final ruling on the main case,” Lacson said In a text message on Friday,
“We did so, all in the spirit of Christmas not to mention our desire to avoid a constitutional crisis during this holiday season,” he added.
Despite this, the senator noted that the Senate would not give up the rights of the legislature, and will tackle the issue at the proper time.
“Having said that, there is no saying that we are about ready to give up the rights of the legislature, being a co-equal branch of government. We will tackle this issue at the proper time as a collegial body,” he said.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Jose Balajadia earlier confirmed Balag’s release after he received a copy of the SC’s order.
Balajadia reportedly said that around 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, he allowed Balag to leave the Senate with his three lawyers after undergoing a medical check-up as part of their protocol.
“Yes he was released last night at about 7 by an en banc sup court reso,” Balajadia said in a text message to INQUIRER.net Friday.
Last October 18, Lacson’s committee, on Senator Grace Poe’s motion, cited Balag in contempt and ordered his detention after he repeatedly invoked his right against self-incrimination when asked during the panel’s hearing to confirm if he was the fraternity’s leader.
Balag, along with other Aegis Juris fraternity members, are being blamed in the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas (UST) freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III last September 17. /kga