CA upholds dismissal of businessman’s charges vs BI officials | Inquirer News

CA upholds dismissal of businessman’s charges vs BI officials

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:50 AM December 26, 2023

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a lower court ruling that junked the civil damages complaint filed by businessman Robert Sobrepeña against some Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials who prevented him from leaving the country in 2013.

In an 11-page decision, the appellate court’s Fourth Division denied Sobrepeña’s appeal claiming that the Pasig City Regional Trial Court erred when it dismissed his action for violating Article 32 of the New Civil Code.

Sobrepeña had insisted that then-BI airport operations division chief Benito Se Jr., supervisor Luzviminda Boto, and immigration officer Johnel Badua directly obstructed and violated his right to be free from arbitrary detention and liberty of abode which, consequently, impaired his right to travel when they offloaded him from his May 11, 2013 flight to San Francisco.


The immigration officers cited his then-pending criminal cases for malversation of public funds, which were filed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, in connection with a dispute over Camp John Hay.


Sobrepeña argued that there was no hold departure order against him, and the immigration lookout bulletin order issued by the Department of Justice did not bar him from leaving the country.

In its decision, the appellate court explained that while Article 32 is aimed to provide sanctions against violations of rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution, “the provision is not meant to make actionable as torts all violations of rights and liberties.”

It added that only those rights specifically enumerated in the provisions are covered.

“Consequently, Sobrepeña’s action should be limited to the two rights raised in the complaint and covered by Article 32, that is, the freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention and the liberty of abode,” the CA said.

It stressed that Article 32 does not expressly include the right to travel as among those actionable by the court.

“In the same vein, the right to travel cannot be, per se, interpreted as included or subsumed either under the freedom from arbitrary detention or the liberty of abode, for they are different rights on their own,” the CA said.


READ: Court orders Sobrepeña’s arrest

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TAGS: Bureau of Immigration, Court of Appeals

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