CA rejects father's plea for release of activist arrested without warrant

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2019 09:56 AM

MANILA – The Court of Appeals has junked the plea of a father for the release of his student-activist daughter who was arrested without a warrant last September.

In a decision dated October 29, the CA Third Division dismissed the petition for habeas corpus filed by Arnulfo Pacalda on September 23, which sought to compel the Philippine Army to release his daughter, Alexandrea, saying the subsequent filing of charges against her had rendered the petition moot.

At the time of the filing of the petition, Alexandrea, a college student, was detained without charges for 9 days, after she was arrested without a warrant in Gen. Luna, Quezon on the evening of September 14 by 6 armed men in civilian clothing.

The armed men were later identified to be members of the 85th Infantry Battalion.

Pacalda had claimed his daughter was tortured and forced to sign a document stating that she voluntarily surrendered.

The military earlier denied abducting Alexandrea, claiming the missing-activist who had allegedly become a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), surrendered.

But on September 23, they filed 2 charges for illegal possession of firearms against Alexandrea for violations of Republic Act 9516 and 10591. The military said she surrendered 1 revolver, live ammunition, blasting caps and other subversive materials.

Pacalda called this filing an “afterthought” and denied his daughter’s involvement with the NPA.

CA RULING

But the CA Third Division said the Rules of Court and several cases have made it clear that while a person may have been initially illegally arrested, the subsequent filing of charges prohibits his/her release.

Section 4, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court disallows release of a person detained if he/she is “under process issued by a court or a judge” or if he/she has been “charged” with an offense.

Aside from the criminal charges, a commitment order detaining Alexandrea at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility had been issued by a Catanauan, Quezon court, according to the military.

“Even if the arrest of a person is illegal, supervening events may bar his release or discharge from custody,” the decision penned by CA Associate Justice Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig said, citing a 1995 case which enumerated the issuance of a judicial process and the filing of complaint or criminal charge as among the examples.

CA associate justices Japar Dimaampao and Edwin Sorongon concurred.

Rights group Karapatan assisted Pacalda in the petition.

The junking of Pacalda’s habeas corpus petition is the latest in a string of cases where the Court of Appeals junked pleas for protection filed by rights groups.

In June, the CA Fourteenth Division denied the petition for writs of amparo and habeas data filed by Karapatan, women’s group Gabriela and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines against red-tagging and threats supposedly coming from the military, citing lack of evidence.

In July, the CA 15th Division also denied the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ petitions for writs of amparo and habeas data which sought protection against alleged attacks against their members supposedly perpetrated by state agents.