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ISSUE: Whether or not the Senate has power to impose the indefinite detention of a person cited in contempt during its inquiries
FACTS: Balag, leader of Aegis Juris Fraternity filed a petition before the SC after senators ordered him detained in Senate premises for being uncooperative in the probe into the death of the UST Law Student Horacio "Atio" del Castillo III. During the Senate inquiry, Balag repeatedly invoked his right against self-incrimination when asked if he headed the fraternity
DECISION: Denied for being moot and academic. However, the period of imprisonment under the inherent power of contempt of the Senate during inquiries in aid of legislation should only last until the termination of the legislative inquiry.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The Court declared the case as moot and academic but the petition presents a critical and decisive issue that must be resolved and capable of repetition. This issue must be threshed out as the Senate's exercise of its power of contempt without a definite period is capable of repetition,” it said, adding that “the indefinite detention of persons cited in contempt impairs their constitutional right to liberty. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Senate has no power to impose the indefinite detention of a person cited in contempt during its inquiries.
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