CA upholds dismissal of petition for writ of amparo vs. NTF-ELCAC, others
By JOAHNA LEI CASILAO, GMA Integrated News
The Court of Appeals has affirmed its decision junking the plea of members of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) for a writ of amparo against the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and other law enforcement agencies. In a 16-page resolution promulgated on April 11, the former 17th Division said all issues raised in the motion were already discussed in the decision, thus it found no cogent reason to reconsider.
“The writ of amparo still cannot be issued on the following grounds: the Facebook posts, having been made two years ago, cannot translate into an imminent or actual threat,” the appellate court said. “The identity of the perpetrators of the visitations, surveillance, and stalking and their connection to any of the six respondents remain uncertain,” it added.
The court said the alleged baseless charges had been “already dismissed by the trial courts and the filing of cases cannot be characterized as an unlawful act or omission in the context of the Amparo rule.” According to the court, the petitioners’ arguments that the “sheer volume of screenshots” prove that the acts of red-tagging are real and that several Facebook posts were authored and shared by respondents do not automatically amount to substantial evidence.
“There is nothing in the screenshots that would support petitioners’ conclusion that the Facebook posts are directly connected with the six respondents,” the court said. “What can be concluded from the screenshots is that the Facebook posts, while these may contain acts of red-tagging against some petitioners, were authored and shared two years ago by unidentified individuals,” it added.
The court said that the fact that the posts were made years ago was material to the determination of the existence of a “present, imminent, or actual threat” to the petitioners. The court also denied the petitioners’ argument that the court set the bar “too high for any aggrieved citizen to seek succor from the courts in times of threats” when it denied the plea for a writ of amparo.
“The petitioners must be reminded that the issuance of a writ of amparo is an extraordinary remedy governed by specific rules… and the privilege of the writ was adopted to address the special concerns of extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances,” it said. The decision was penned by Associate Justice Angeline Mary Quimpo-Sale. Named respondents in the motion include the NTF-ELCAC, the Philippine National Police, the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee-Cordillera Administrative Region, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the Philippine Army, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cordillera Administrative Region
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