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Burgos vs. Macapagal-Arroyo G.R. No.

183711 22 June 2010



FACTS:

At around 1:00 in the afternoon of April 28, 2007, Jonas Joseph T. Burgos a farmer advocate and a
member of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Bulacan was forcibly taken and abducted by a group of four (4) men
and a woman from the extension portion of Hapag Kainan Restaurant, located at the ground floor of
Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

On April 30, 2007, the petitioner, Edita Burgos, held a press conference and announced that her son
Jonas was missing. That same day, the petitioner sought confirmation from the guard if the person
abducted was her son Jonas. In a subsequent police investigation and Land Transportation Office (LTO)
verification, it was discovered that plate number TAB 194 was registered to a 1991 Isuzu XLT vehicle
owned by a certain Mauro B. Mudlong. The said vehicle was seized and impounded on June 24, 2006 for
transporting timber without permit. However, in May 2007, right after Jonas abduction was made
public, it was discovered that plate number TAB 194 of this 1991 Isuzu XLT vehicle was missing, and the
engine and other spare parts were cannibalized. The police was likewise able to generate cartographic
sketches of two of the abductors of Jonas based on its interview of eyewitnesses.

On August 29, 2007, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-
CIDG) presented Emerito Lipio a.k.a. Ka Tibo/Ka Cris, Marlon D. Manuel a.k.a. Ka Carlo, and Melissa
Concepcion Reyes a.k.a. Ka Lisa/Ramil to support the theory that elements of the New Peoples Army
(NPA) perpetrated the abduction of Jonas.

In its July 17, 2008 decision, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition for the Issuance of the Writ
of Habeas Corpus, denied the petitioners motion to declare the respondents in contempt; and partially
granted the privilege of the Writ of Amparo in favor of the petitioner. Essentially, the CA found that the
evidence the petitioner presented failed to establish her claimed direct connection between the
abductors of Jonas and the military. It also found that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the
PNP did not fully exert their effort in the conduct of investigation. The CA ruled that the AFP has the
burden of connecting certain loose ends regarding the identity of Ka Ramon and the allegation that Ka
Ramon is indeed Jonas in the Order of Battle. As for the PNP-CIDG, the CA branded its investigation as
rather shallow and conducted haphazardly.

PERTINENT ISSUE: Whether or not the failure of the PNP and AFP to conduct an exhaustive and
meaningful investigation and to exercise extraordinary diligence in the performance of their duties is a
fatal to the grant of the privilege of the Writ of Amparo.


ANSWER: Yes.

SUPREME COURT RULINGS:

ON PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF AMPARO

Effect of the failure of the PNP and AFP to conduct an exhaustive and meaningful investigation and to
exercise extraordinary diligence in the performance of their duties Considering the findings of the CA
and our review of the records of the present case, we conclude that the PNP and the AFP have so far
failed to conduct an exhaustive and meaningful investigation into the disappearance of Jonas Burgos,
and to exercise the extraordinary diligence (in the performance of their duties) that the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo requires. Because of these investigative shortcomings, we cannot rule on the case until a
more meaningful investigation, using extraordinary diligence, is undertaken.

DISPOSITIVE:

In disposing of the case, the Supreme Court issued the following directives:

DIRECTED the Commission on Human Rights to conduct appropriate investigative proceedings, including
field investigations acting as the Courts directly commissioned agency for purposes of the Rule on the
Writ of Amparo
REQUIRE the incumbent Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police
to make available and to provide copies, to the Commission on Human Rights, of all documents and
records in their possession and as the Commission on Human Rights may require, relevant to the case of
Jonas Joseph T. Burgos, subject to reasonable regulations consistent with the Constitution and existing
laws;
DIRECTED the PNP-CIDG and its incumbent Chief to submit to the Commission on Human Rights the
records and results of the investigation the PNP-CIDG claimed to have forwarded to the Department of
Justice, which were not included in their previous submissions to the Commission on Human Rights,
including such records as the Commission on Human Rights may require, pursuant to the authority
granted under this Resolution;
DIRECTED the PNP-CIDG to provide direct investigative assistance to the Commission on Human Rights
as it may require, pursuant to the authority granted under this Resolution;
AUTHORIZED the Commission on Human Rights to conduct a comprehensive and exhaustive
investigation that extends to all aspects of the case (not limited to the specific directives as outlined
above), as the extraordinary measures the case may require under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo; and
REQUIRED the Commission on Human Rights to submit to this Court a Report with its recommendations,
copy furnished the petitioner, the incumbent Chiefs of the AFP, the PNP and the PNP-CIDG, and all the
respondents, within ninety (90) days from receipt of the Resolution.
In light of the retirement of Lt. General Alexander Yano and the reassignment of the other respondents
who have all been impleaded in their official capacities, all subsequent resolutions and actions from the
Supreme Court were served on, and directly enforceable by, the incumbents of the impleaded
offices/units whose official action is necessary. The present respondents shall continue to be personally
impleaded for purposes of the responsibilities and accountabilities they may have incurred during their
incumbencies.

The Supreme Court likewise affirmed the dismissal of the petitions for Contempt and for the Issuance of
a Writ of Amparo with respect to President Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo.

So v. Tacla, Jr. G.R. Nos. 190108 and 190473 19 October 2010
FACTS:

Regional Trial Court Proceedings

David E. So (So) filed a petition for the issuance of the writs of habeas corpus and amparo before Judge
Esteban A. Tacla, Jr. (Judge Tacla) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 208, Mandaluyong City. So
filed this on behalf of his daughter, Ma. Elena So Guisande (Guisande), who is accused of Qualified Theft
(a non- bailable offense) in a criminal case pending before Judge Tacla.

So alleged, among others, that Guisande was under a life-threatening situation while confined at the
National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), the government hospital ordered by the RTC Mandaluyong
City to ascertain the actual psychological state of Guisande, to determine whether she can stand for
trial.

Confinement at the NCMH

Guisande was previously confined at the Makati Medical Center for Bipolar Mood Disorder. Her personal
psychiatrist certified that that she was not ready for discharge.

However, acting on the prosecutions Urgent Motion to Refer Accuseds Illness to a Government
Hospital, Judge Tacla ordered Guisandes referral to the NCMH for an independent forensic assessment
of Guisandes mental health to determine if she would be able to stand arraignment and undergo trial
for Qualified Theft.

Subsequently, Judge Tacla, upon motion of the NCMH, ordered that accused Guisande be physically
brought to the NCMH.

In response, Guisande filed a Motion for Relief from Solitary Confinement before the sala of Judge Tecla.

Supreme Court Proceedings [Petition for writs of habeas corpus and amparo (G.R. No. 190108)]

So meanwhile filed petition before the Supreme Court for the issuance of the writs of habeas corpus and
amparo claiming life-threatening circumstances surrounding his daughters confinement at the NCMH.
Such which supposedly worsened her mental condition and violated her constitutional rights against
solitary detention and her right to the assistance of counsel.

The Supreme Court in its Resolution dated 24 November 2009 issued a joint writ of habeas corpus and
amparo and directed the Court of Appeals to conduct a hearing on the matter.

Court of Appeals Proceedings

On 03 December 2009, the NCMH rendered an evaluation report finding Guisande competent to stand
trial. On the same day, the 17th Division of the Court of Appeals heard the case pursuant to the joint
writ of habeas corpus and amparo. Thereafter, Justice Normandie B. Pizarro rendered an Order directing
Guisande to stand trial for qualified theft but ordered her confinement at St. Clares Medical Center in
recognition of her right to seek medical treatment.

Supreme Court Proceedings [Petition for review on certiorari (G.R. No. 190473)]

Thereafter, a petition for review on certiorari was filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on
behalf of Judge Tacla and Dr. Vicente, questioning the Order of Justice Pizarro.

On 10 March 2010, the OSG filed a Manifestation and Motion praying for the dismissal of G.R. Nos.
190108 and 190473.

So filed a Comment refuting the OSGs motion to dismiss G.R. Nos. 190108 and 190473.

The OSG thereafter filed a Motion to Admit Reply and a Reply where the OSG reiterated that GR. Nos.
190108 and 190473 had been rendered moot and academic with the dismissal of the criminal case for
Qualified Theft against Guisande.

PERTINENT ISSUES:

Whether or not the remedies of habeas corpus and amparo are proper in instances where the
confinement or limitation in liberty is not illegal or unlawful.
Whether or not the issue of Guisandes alleged illegal detention and violation of constitutional rights
during her incarceration at the NCMH is moot and academic.
ANSWERS:

No.
Yes.
SUPREME COURT RULINGS:

1. AVAILABILITY OF THE REMEDIES OF HABEAS CORPUS AND AMPARO

The act or omission or the threatened act or omission complained of should be illegal or unlawful As
pointed out by the OSG, the basis for the petition for habeas corpus and amparo is the confinement of
Guisande at NCMH in connection with her prosecution for qualified theft. So alleged that her
confinement at the NCMH was life threatening as the NCMH could not adequately treat Guisandes
mental condition. Thus, to balance the conflicting right of an accused to medical treatment and the right
of the prosecution to subject to court processes an accused charged with a non-bailable offense, the CA
directed the transfer of Guisande from the NCMH to St. Clares Medical Center, while noting that
because of the peculiarities of this case, there was a deviation from the regular course of procedure,
since accused Guisande should have been confined in jail because she was charged with a non-bailable
offense.

It bears stressing that nowhere in the transcript of the CA hearing on December 3, 2009, nor in the
Order recited in open court by Justice Pizarro, is there an affirmation of petitioner Sos claim that the
confinement of accused Guisande at the NCMH was illegal. Neither were the respective acts performed
by respondents Judge Tacla and Dr. Vicente in ascertaining the mental condition of accused Guisande to
withstand trial declared unlawful. On the contrary, the NCMH, a well-reputed government forensic
facility, albeit not held in high regard by petitioner Sos and accused Guisandes family, had assessed
Guisande fit for trial.

The Rules on the Writs of habeas corpus and amparo are clear; the act or omission or the threatened act
or omission complained of confinement and custody for habeas corpus and violations of, or threat to
violate, a persons life, liberty, and security for amparo cases should be illegal or unlawful.

The privilege of the writ of amparo is aimed at protecting and guaranteeing the rights to life, liberty, and
security of persons As was held in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo, the privilege of the writ of amparo is
envisioned basically to protect and guarantee the rights to life, liberty, and security of persons, free
from fears and threats that vitiate the quality of this life. It is an extraordinary writ conceptualized and
adopted in light of and in response to the prevalence of extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances.
Accordingly, the remedy ought to be resorted to and granted judiciously, lest the ideal sought by the
Amparo Rule be diluted and undermined by the indiscriminate filing of amparo petitions for purposes
less than the desire to secure amparo reliefs and protection and/or on the basis of unsubstantiated
allegations.

On the other hand, in Ampatuan v. Macaraig, the Court held that the general purpose of the writ of
habeas corpus is to determine whether or not a particular person is legally held. The essential object
and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint as
distinguished from voluntary, and to relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal. Any restraint
which will preclude freedom of action is sufficient. In passing upon a petition for habeas corpus, a
court or judge must first inquire into whether the petitioner is being restrained of his liberty. If he is not,
the writ will be refused. Inquiry into the cause of detention will proceed only where such restraint exists.
If the alleged cause is thereafter found to be unlawful, then the writ should be granted and the
petitioner discharged. Needless to state, if otherwise, again the writ will be refused.

In the cases at bar, the question before the CA was correctly limited to which hospital, the NCMH or a
medical facility of accuseds own choosing, accused Guisande should be referred for treatment of a
supposed mental condition. In addition, we note that it was procedurally proper for the RTC to ask the
NCMH for a separate opinion on accuseds mental fitness to be arraigned and stand trial. Be that as it
may, the CA allowed the transfer of accused to St. Clares Medical Center under the custody of Dr. Rene
Yat. Notwithstanding, Guisande remained in custody of the law to answer for the non-bailable criminal
charge against her, and was simply allowed to pursue medical treatment in the hospital and from a
doctor of her choice.

2. EFFECT OF THE DISMISSAL OF THE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION ON THE PRESENT PETITIONS

The dismissal of the criminal prosecution for qualified theft against Guisande rendered the issue moot
and academic Certainly, with the dismissal of the non-bailable case against accused Guisande, she is
no longer under peril to be confined in a jail facility, much less at the NCMH. Effectively, accused
Guisandes person, and treatment of any medical and mental malady she may or may not have, can no
longer be subjected to the lawful processes of the RTC Mandaluyong City. In short, the cases have now
been rendered moot and academic which, in the often cited David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, is defined as
one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a
declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value.

DISPOSITIVE:

The Supreme Court denied the petitions in G.R. Nos. 190108 and 190473 for the Writs of Habeas Corpus
and Amparo, and review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court for being moot and academic.