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CA affirms writs of amparo, habeas corpus for rights lawyer

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 02:36 AM January 04, 2016

THE COURT of Appeals has affirmed its decision granting protection orders to an Isabela-based human rights lawyer who claimed she was subjected to surveillance and harassment by the police and military for providing legal assistance to political detainees in Northern Luzon.

In a 7-page resolution dated Dec. 2, 2015, the appellate court’s Special Former Sixth Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General on behalf of the respondents, including Chief Supt. Miguel de Mayo Laurel, the acting regional police chief of Cagayan Valley, then Philippine Army chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri, then military intelligence chief Gen. Eduardo Año, and then AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

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In its ruling written by Justice Romeo Barza, the appeals tribunal affirmed its March 2015 decision granting writs of amparo and habeas data to Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon by reason of substantial evidence, adding that there existed a “unique circumstance necessitating the relaxation of the hearsay rule” in her favor.

“Indeed, as the court previously held, the difficulty to obtain direct evidence to prove petitioner’s entitlement to the writs being prayed for stems from the fact that no actual extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance has yet to occur in this case, and, thus, involves acts which, as of the present, only threaten to violate petitioner’s rights to life, liberty and security, or which may be interpreted as preliminary steps to the possible extrajudicial killing or enforce disappearance of the petitioner,” the decision stated.

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In such a case, the court said it “can exercise flexibility in the consideration of evidence which would otherwise not be admissible under the ordinary rules of procedure.”

The other division members, Justices Magdangal de Leon and Zenaida Galapate Laguilles, concurred with the ruling.

In her petition, Salucon, a former public attorney and a founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said in March 2014 she was in Lagawe, Ifugao, assisting a client falsely charged with murder when her paralegal assistant who warned her that her life was in danger was shot dead.

The lawyer said another client working as a civilian asset of the Isabela police later told her that her name is included in the military’s watch list of communist sympathizers and that authorities in her hometown of Burgos were ordered to subject her to surveillance for being a “Red lawyer.”

Salucon related that over the next two months, soldiers disguised as clients came to her law firm to inquire from her staff where she was and even spoke with vendors working near her office to get information about her.

In April 2014, a man holding a radio and riding a motorcycle tailed her car and passed to look if she was there. She also said local officials military and police officials tried several times to get an appointment with her for vague or suspicious reasons.

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