MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday nullified the protection order issued by a Manila Court to former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Magtanggol Gatdula.
In a ruling released Tuesday and penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the high court said it has “found several irregularities in judge’s appreciation of the rules on the writ of amparo.”
The high court also ordered Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26 Judge Silvino Pampilo to determine within 48 hours from receipt of the high court’s ruling if the issuance of a writ of amparo is proper.
A writ of amparo is “a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee or a private individual or entity.”
Pampilo, on March last year, granted Gatdula’s petition for a writ of amparo, which Gatdula had sought to restrain the Department of Justice and the NBI from threatening his “life, liberty and security” in connection with the ambush of NBI deputy director for technical services Reynaldo Esmeralda.
Esmeralda’s SUV was strafed by unidentified gunmen as his two-car convoy was running on a street in Paco, Manila on February last year. No one was killed in the incident, with only Esmeralda’s brother sustaining a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Gatdula, naming Esmeralda, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and NBI officer in charge Nonnatus Rojas as respondents in his petition, believed the ambush was staged in order to frame him, get him arrested and possibly killed in a “rubout.”
He said De Lima and Esmeralda held him “implicitly responsible” for the ambush when they aired theories it may have been related to the kidnapping of Japanese national Noriyo Ohara, which Gatdula and other NBI agents are being accused of.
Meanwhile, De Lima said she felt “extremely vindicated” by the high court’s decision.
“In all sincerity and candor, I expected nothing less from the Supreme Court – that writ of amparo, in all its being, deserves to be struck down as a patent abuse of judicial authority. The RTC’s act of issuing such writ borders on the absurd, if not insane. Imagine accusing the Secretary of Justice, a former Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of plotting to liquidate the former NBI Director, the petitioner in the case before the RTC,” De Lima said in a text message to reporters.
“And the writ of amparo, as issued by the RTC is a flagrant abuse of such an extraordinary writ available only in genuine cases of violations of the right to life, liberty and security,” she added.