2 pastors, 1 lay leader ask SC protection against red-tagging
MANILA, Philippines — Two pastors and a lay leader of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) on Monday asked the Supreme Court (SC) for protection against troops from the 59th Infantry Battalion who red-tagged them as communist supporters.
UCCP pastors Edwin and Julieta Egar and lay leader Ronald Ramos, a former barangay captain, in a writ of Amparo petition, told SC that members of the 59th IB continue to threaten to violate their right to life, liberty, and security as well as their families.
Petitioners said the troops “gravely coerced” them to “surrender” and admit to being part of the New People’s Army (NPA) despite a lack of evidence.
They added that there existed an “outright threat of a military operation” against them based on various text messages sent to them.
Last October 31, Ramos and Edwin said they were approached by men who introduced themselves as members of the 59th IB troops, accused them of being members of the NPA, and told them to surrender. Another attempt was made a day after. The troops also told them to join the mass surrender on November 3.
On November 2, Ramos said he started receiving a series of text messages saying they would search his home where firearms and explosives would be planted in a “one-time big-time” operation. Another message said he would be killed in a fabricated shootout.
Meanwhile, Edwin and Julieta were also subjected to surveillance and harassment.
“Due to this illegal military surveillance, unwarranted visits, threats of illegal searches, and the outright threat of a deadly military operation akin to the Bloody Sunday operations, the respondents officers and enlisted personnel of the 59th IB have implanted genuine and crippling fear in the minds of petitioners,” read the 62-page petition.
They added that they now live in fear, “wondering whether tomorrow will be their last. They have also yet to be able to return to their homes for fear that instead of presiding in a safe haven, they would be endangering themselves more by being open targets for the Respondents officers and enlisted personnel of the 59th IB.”
Named respondents are the following: Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Philippine Army Commending General Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Commanding officer of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army Maj. Gen. Roberto Capulong, 59th IB commander Lt. Col. Ernesto Teneza Jr., and enlisted men of the battalion.
The petitioners seek a temporary protection order from the Supreme Court against the respondents. They also asked the SC to issue a production order for the respondents to produce any documents or evidence relevant to the case.
For permanent relief, they urged the SC to make permanent the protection order and order the chain of command to conduct an investigation to identify those responsible for violating the rights of the petitioners.
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.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.