Duterte admin gets another jolt as CA nixes ‘narcolist’ inclusion of Rep. Veloso
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals (CA) has again struck the Duterte administration with a harsh blow as it ordered law enforcement agents to rectify a lawmaker’s inclusion in the government’s narco-list.
In a ruling dated June 8, CA’s former special 8th Division has also ordered respondents to destroy all documents, records, and information related to Leyte Representative Vicente Veloso.
The appeals court said its decision should not be construed as an absolute censure on the government, particularly the Executive Branch, to take actions against personalities involved in the narcotics trade and other criminal activities. But it pointed out that it will not tolerate actions that violate a person’s constitutional rights.
“Any course of action, however, which fails to observe respect for constitutional rights, will never be tolerated,” the appeals court said a ruling penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas and concurred by Associate Justices Germano Francisco Legaspi and Ruben Reynaldo Roxas.
It added that the ruling would not also bar the government from filing a case against Veloso, which “should have been done, to begin with (filing of a criminal complaint) as a matter of due process.”
The appeals court found Veloso’s inclusion in the narco-list to be a threat to his freedom, liberty, and security in life.
In granting Veloso’s bid for a privilege of habeas data, the appeals court rejected the government’s defense that the documents related to Veloso are a matter of national security.
“We have carefully scrutinized the documents submitted by the respondents and found no basis no hold them and the information contained therein to be matters of national security,” the appeals court said.
It explained that while there is no universal definition of national security, in general, it refers to the protection of a nation’s existence, territorial integrity, and national sovereignty.
But in the documents related to Veloso, the appeals court said: “There is nothing therein that could have affected or potentially affect the territorial integrity or national sovereignty of the country. The respondents failed to establish the presence of any lawful defense that would bar the availment of the writ of habeas data.”
“Accordingly, the respondents are hereby ordered to destroy all documents, records, and information which pertain to the person of the petitioner obtained in relation to the 14 March 2019 narco-list. They are further ordered to rectify the said narco-list and delete the name of the petitioner therein,” the appeals court said.
“They are also enjoined from further including the petitioner’s name in any publicized derogatory list that fails to follow due process and from taking any further courses of action in direct relations to the documents, records, and information which resulted in the issuance of the 14 March 2019 narco-list,” it added.
The Veloso ruling came after the Court of Appeals affirmed the Makati Regional Trial Court’s decision dismissing the coup d’etat case against former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
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