CA orders military to search for two missing activists
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the military to conduct a “comprehensive and exhaustive” investigation into the disappearance of two labor organizers.
“All respondents are hereby directed to cause the speedy conduct of a comprehensive and exhaustive investigation using extraordinary diligence on the continued disappearance of Elizabeth ‘Loi’ Magbanua and Alipio ‘Ador’ Juat,” read the Court of Appeals’ 46-page decision.
Named respondents in the petition were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro and other senior military officers, and retired Gen. Ricardo F. De Leon, officer-in-charge of the Department of National Defense (DND).
The CA also ordered the military “to utilize all technical and modern technological resources at its disposal to assist in locating their whereabouts and once and for all determine the truth behind their continued disappearance.”
The CA said the authorities should submit a written report explaining the results of their action within six months from receipt of the decision.
Meanwhile, the CA also issued a protective order for the family of Magbanua and Juat.
The two were last seen on May 3, attending a meeting with fellow community organizers in Valenzuela City.
Juat was able to surface on several occasions to see his daughter, who he said was in Camp Aguinaldo.
However, his daughter said her father told them he still could not leave Camp Aguinaldo.
The relatives, together with cause-oriented groups, searched for the two. Still, the efforts failed, prompting them to seek the help of the Supreme Court through a writ of Amparo.
The SC then issued the writ of Amparo and ordered the Court of Appeals to hear the case.
The Court of Appeals, in its ruling, said relatives of the two missing labor organizers were able to prove “by substantial evidence that they are entitled to the privilege of a writ of amparo.”
It said the arguments raised by the military and the DND that the allegations by the family are unsubstantiated by evidence lack merit.
“Here, petitioners proved by substantial evidence that Loi and Ador are victims of enforced disappearance themselves. Their continued disappearance without any trace but having been last heard of from a military facility justify the issuance of the privilege of the writ of Amparo,” the CA said.
Writ of Amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or threatened. Like a writ of habeas data, it serves a preventive and curative role in curbing extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Philippines hail the court’s favorable decision and considers it a significant step toward protecting constitutionally protected rights and liberties of not only Loi, Ador, and their families but of all Filipinos.
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