SC Issues Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data in Favor of NUPL

The Supreme Court, in a special En Banc session held on Friday, issued a writ of amparo and habeas data in favor of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

The Court also referred the petition of NUPL, et al. to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, who was directed to cause the immediate raffle of the said case among the appellate justices. The CA was further directed to hear the petition on May 14, 2019 and to decide the case within 10 days after submission of the case for decision.

The Court also ordered respondents President Rodrigo Duterte, who was impleaded in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Security Adviser (Ret.) Gen. Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., et al. to make a verified return of the writ of amparo and habeas data on or before May 8, 2019, and to comment on NUPL, et al.’s petition before the said date.

In its petition, NUPL, et al. sought for the issuance of the writ of amparo and habeas data for their protection, claiming that their rights to life, liberty and security have been violated and continue to be violated through the persistent threats and harassment and red tagging allegedly done to vilify and intimidate them and prevent them from pursuing their profession as members of the Bar and from practicing their advocacy as peoples’ lawyers serving the poor and the marginalized. They claimed that some NUPL members have died in the line of duty.

The petitioners are likewise asking the Court to compel the respondents, under the writ of habeas data, to provide them with copies of all the facts, information, statements, records, photographs, and other evidence, documentary or otherwise, pertaining to each of them in the respondents’ files and records.

In particular, NUPL alleged that it was branded as an “enemy” by the Philippine Army in 2013. In 2014, NUPL-Vice President Atty. Catherine Salucon allegedly experienced heavy surveillance and harassment and that her paralegal, William Bugatti, was killed hours after they had parted ways after a court hearing. In 2018, NUPL-Negros Secretary General Atty. Benjamin Ramos was killed in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. They cited other several incidents of threats, harassment and intimidation due to their work and advocacy.

Also named as respondents were National Defense Secretary (Ret.) Gen. Delfin N. Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr., AFP Deputy Commander for Intelligence Brig. Gen. Fernando T. Trinidad, AFP Intelligence Service of the Philippines (ISAFP) Chief Maj. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri, Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto, and AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Maj. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade, Jr.

(G.R. 246175, NUPL, et al. v. President Duterte, et al., May 3, 2019)

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Press Statement
3 May 2019
5pm

Re info that Philippine Supreme Court granted in favor of NUPL a writ of Amparo & Habeas Data against the vicious redtagging by the military and baseless government accusation of involvement in an “ouster matrix”:

We are certainly pleased and somewhat relieved that the High Court has favorably acted upon our petition for protection of the life, liberty and security of NUPL members who are after all, officers of the court.

It came at a propitious time when the 2018 Bar results came out today welcoming our new colleagues in the profession. It gives our new lawyers a veritable food for thought while they rightfully celebrate.

It also sends a strong and clear signal to the military and government officials alike, as well as their proxies or agents, that there are certain well-defined rules of evidence not incompatible with basic fairness, decency, common sense and logic that must be observed.

While this is just a start of an intense judicial battle and tedious procedure, we are grateful that the Court heeded our supplication to be given judicial shield and a potential relief from reckless accusations, malicious labelling and vicious attacks in different forms and guises.

Its subtext is as unequivocal – incessant redtagging, personal mudslinging and contrived narratives will be subjected to judicial restraint and accountability.#

Edre Olalia
NUPL President
Co-Petitioner
(0917) 5113373