NUPL’s writ of amparo petition vs police, soldiers up for resolution
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals on Thursday submitted for resolution the writ of amparo case filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) against the military and the police with State lawyers opting not to present any evidence.
Writs of amparo and habeas data have been filed by NUPL in a bid to stop alleged State-sponsored harassment and “red-tagging” of the group, including its members and officials.
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.
During Thursday’s hearing, NUPL presented their last two witnesses: lawyers Rene Estocapio and Neri Colmenares, President of NUPL Panay Chapter and NUPL National President, respectively.
Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Villanueva-Miranda and Assistant Solicitor General Marlon Bosantog have objected to the presentation of witnesses saying NUPL failed to observe the previously agreed arrangement that counsels would provide a copy of the witnesses’ judicial affidavits at least five days before the scheduled hearing.
Copies of the judicial affidavits of the witnesses were instead sent on July 16, or only two days ago.
Bosantog explained that “while they are not averse to conducting a cross-examination on the witnesses” ignoring the rule would violate the procedural right to due process of the government officials named in the suit.
The Appeals Court, however, allowed the witnesses to testify “in the interest of justice.”
Petitioners then orally offered their 27 documents to support the testimonies of six NUPL lawyers composed of vicious statements, news reports, flyers, posters, and tarpaulins to prove the multiple and continuing “red-tagging” and other attacks on NUPL as an organization and as individuals.
The Office of the Solicitor-General (OSG) objected to the offer of documentary evidence, saying they were all “hearsay.” The offered documentary evidence was admitted by the Court nevertheless.
“The generals not only did not bother to show up but also are afraid of the truth. That is why all they did in all the 4 hearings were to merely deny, deflect the issues and raise technicalities,” NUPL President Edre Olalia said.
“They did not address head-on the overwhelming evidence against them. Though not surprising, it still speaks volumes of the reckless disregard for fair play and reason, much less basic rules of evidence and credibility,” he added. /kga
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