Military, Defense officials no-show at CA hearing on NUPL complaint
MANILA, Philippines — Top officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) opted not to attend the Court of Appeals hearing on the petition accusing them of harassment and red-tagging of human rights lawyers.
On Thursday’s hearing, Assistant Solicitor-General Angelita V. Miranda said the officials sent representatives instead.
Top DND and AFP officials named respondents to the writs of amparo and habeas data are 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.
President Rodrigo Duterte was also impleaded in the case in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the AFP.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) filed writs of amparo and habeas data against the military.
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.
Clarisa Ramos, the wife of lawyer Benjamin Ramos, who was shot dead last year, was disappointed by the absence of the military and defense officials.
“[I am] disappointed. Bakit, takot ba sila magpakita sa atin? Parang hindi nila tinitingnan na importante yung case (Why are they afraid of facing us?. They do not see the importance of the case),” Ramos told reporters.
Her husband, one of the founding members of NUPL, was the counsel for the relatives of the slain farmers in Sagay.
NUPL’s counsels led by lawyer Rachel Pastores presented Clarisa Ramos as one of their witnesses. A Judicial Affidavit detailing her testimony has been submitted to the Appeals Court, but the government lawyers opted not to do a cross examination.
Their other witness, lawyer Maria Catherine L. Dannug-Salucon, who had received a protection order from the court said she remains under surveillance and had been red-tagged by the military.
“The audacity in yakking against us to our extreme prejudice outside the courtroom could not be matched by any modicum of fortitude by at least showing up in court. This betrays how cavalier and reckless the still continuing smear attacks against us are,” lawyer Edre Olalia, NUPL President, said. /ee
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