MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a writ of amparo and habeas data in favor of rights groups Karapatan, Gabriela and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) against what they alleged to be threats against their lives, liberty and security coming from state forces.
In a 7-page resolution dated May 24, the high court required President Rodrigo Duterte and several high ranking officials from Malacañang, the Department of National Defense, National Security Council, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to file a verified return of the writ with the Court of Appeals (CA) and to comment on the petition by June 13.
It also directed the appellate court to hear the petition on June 18 and resolve the case within 10 days.
The case stems from the groups' allegations that they have been “constantly threatened and harassed, red-tagged and maliciously terrorist-labeled only because of their advocacies in various fields of human rights work.”
Among incidents cited by Karapatan in the petition were the killings of 3 of its members and threats from unidentified persons and alleged state forces.
RMP, a non-government organization of the religious, priests and lay people, claimed one of its members became a victim of extrajudicial killing while some members have been detained.
Gabriela, for its part, pointed to statements of top military officials tagging it as a front for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
The petitioners claimed the attacks intensified with the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF) under Executive Order No. 70. The NTF supposedly met with different United Nations and European Union bodies tagging them as fronts of the CPP-NPA and even the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Aside from Duterte, named as respondents in the petition are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, AFP chief Benjamin Madrigal Jr., the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and the PNP investigation unit.
Also included in the petition are Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Undersecretary Severo Catura, and Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary for New Media and External Affairs Lorraine Badoy.
As the magistrates are still on writing break, the SC resolution was issued under the authority of Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, upon the recommendation of the justice assigned to the case.