CA issues permanent amparo writ for Payatas 'tokhang' victims

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2017 09:57 PM

MANILA - The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday issued a decision making permanent the writ of amparo in favor of the families of the 4 victims of alleged extra-judicial killings and one survivor, according to a human rights advocacy group.

The CA decision prohibits police Senior Insp. Emil S. Garcia, Police Officer 3 Allan Formilleza, PO1 James Aggarao, and PO1 Melchor Navisaga and any of their agents from entering within a radius of 1 kilometer from the residences and work addresses of the petitioners, Centerlaw said in a statement.

According to the Supreme Court (SC), a writ of amparo is a "remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity." It covers "extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances or threats." 

The amparo plea was remanded by the SC to the appellate court for hearing after the high court issued the writ and a temporary protection order (TPO) in favor of Efren Morillo, 28 years old, the lone survivor in the police anti-drug operation, along with relatives of fatalities Marcelo Daa (31 years old), Jessie Cule (20-25 years old;), Raffy Gabo (23 years old), and Anthony Comendo (26 years old).

The petition arose from a case involving a police anti-drug operation last August 2016 at Group 9, Area B, Payatas, Quezon City, where a group of five armed men and two women in civilian clothes rushed to accuse the fatalities of involvement in illegal drugs, ransacked the property, planted drug evidence against the fatalities, took personal belongings, and mercilessly shot Daa, Cule, Gabo, Comendo, and Morillo, execution-style.

Morillo, shot in the chest, played dead and crawled his way down a ravine to his safety. Petitioners claimed that policemen from Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 6 have gone to their community after the incident and continue to "harass" them. 

READ: Gov't won't contest petition vs 'Tokhang' in Payatas [LINK http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/10/17/govt-wont-contest-petition-vs-tokhang-in-payatas]

The CA decision also upholds the suspension of Oplan Tokhang (knock and plead) operations in the area and ordered the police officers named in the petition to be reassigned outside Quezon City and Montalban, Rizal, according to Centerlaw.

The decision also provides that Morillo shall continue to be under the protection of the Commission on Human Rights, and directs the PNP to ensure that the decision is complied with.

“This is the fastest resolution of a case Centerlaw has ever handled. Kudos to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Court of Appeals, which all agreed on the merits of the case,” Centerlaw said in a statement. -- with reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News