SC orders probe on alleged harassment, red tagging of human rights lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has ordered the government to respond to allegations of continuing harassment and “red tagging” of human rights lawyers by the military.
On Friday’s special en banc session, the court granted the writs of amparo and habeas data in favor of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).
In its ruling, the court ordered the respondents to respond through a verified return on or before May 8.
The respondent in the case include President Rodrigo Duterte, who was impleaded in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as top defense and military officials National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., AFP Deputy Commander for Intelligence Brig. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, AFP Chief of the Intelligence Service Maj. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri, Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto and AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.
In the same ruling, the high court also ordered the Court of Appeals to conduct a hearing on the merits of the case on May 14 and hand down a decision within ten days after the case is submitted for decision.
NUPL wants the high court to issue writs of amparo and habeas data.
Writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security has been violated or under threat while the writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security has been violated or under threat by the unlawful gathering of information about the person, his or her family and home.
Both writs serve as preventive and curative roles to curb extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
NUPL President, lawyer Edre Olalia, said the high court’s ruling showed that “on its face — have sufficient basis in form and substance.”
“It is also asking the respondents to explain why the petitioners should not be protected by Amparo and Habeas Data. In fine, it is saying, let’s hear what you have to say about these. It is a first and a positive significant step in the process to determine whether our prayers should be granted in the end,” Olalia added. /ee
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