Anda di halaman 1dari 240

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila
EN BANC

THE SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, THE


CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF
THEPHILIPPINES,
Petitioners,

- versus -

RAYMOND MANALO and REYNALDO MANALO,


Respondents.

G.R. No. 180906


Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARESSANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIAMARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO
MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICONAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
REYES,
LEONARDO-DE
CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:

October 7, 2008
x- - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
PUNO, C.J.:
While victims of enforced disappearances are separated from the rest of the
world behind secret walls, they are not separated from the constitutional protection
of their basic rights. The constitution is an overarching sky that covers all in its
protection. The case at bar involves the rights to life, liberty and security in the
first petition for a writ of amparo filed before this Court.
This is an appeal via Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
in relation to Section 19[1] of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, seeking to reverse
and set aside on both questions of fact and law, the Decision promulgated by the
Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. AMPARO No. 00001, entitled Raymond Manalo
and Reynaldo Manalo, petitioners, versus The Secretary of National Defense, the
Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, respondents.
This case was originally a Petition for Prohibition, Injunction, and
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)[2] filed before this Court by herein
respondents (therein petitioners) on August 23, 2007 to stop herein petitioners
(therein respondents) and/or their officers and agents from depriving them of their
right to liberty and other basic rights. Therein petitioners also sought ancillary
remedies, Protective Custody Orders, Appointment of Commissioner, Inspection
and Access Orders, and all other legal and equitable reliefs under Article VIII,
Section 5(5)[3] of the 1987 Constitution and Rule 135, Section 6 of the Rules of
Court. In our Resolution dated August 24, 2007, we (1) ordered the Secretary of
the Department of National Defense and the Chief of Staff of the AFP, their
agents, representatives, or persons acting in their stead, including but not limited to
the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) to submit their Comment;
and (2) enjoined them from causing the arrest of therein petitioners, or otherwise
restricting, curtailing, abridging, or depriving them of their right to life, liberty, and
other basic rights as guaranteed under Article III, Section 1[4] of the 1987
Constitution.[5]
While the August 23, 2007 Petition was pending, the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo took effect on October 24, 2007. Forthwith, therein petitioners filed a
Manifestation and Omnibus Motion to Treat Existing Petition as Amparo Petition,
to
Admit
Supporting
Affidavits,
and
to
Grant
Interim
and
Final Amparo Reliefs. They prayed that: (1) the petition be considered a Petition
for the Writ of Amparo under Sec. 26[6] of theAmparo Rule; (2) the Court issue the
writ commanding therein respondents to make a verified return within the period

provided by law and containing the specific matter required by law; (3) they be
granted the interim reliefs allowed by the Amparo Rule and all other reliefs prayed
for in the petition but not covered by the Amparo Rule; (4) the Court, after hearing,
render judgment as required in Sec. 18[7] of the Amparo Rule; and (5) all other just
and equitable reliefs.[8]
On October 25, 2007, the Court resolved to treat the August 23, 2007
Petition as a petition under the Amparo Rule and further resolved, viz:
WHEREFORE, let a WRIT OF AMPARO be issued to
respondents requiring them to file with the CA (Court of Appeals) a
verified written return within five (5) working days from service of the
writ. We REMAND the petition to the CA and designate the Division of
Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin to conduct the summary hearing on
the petition on November 8, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. and decide the petition in
accordance with the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.[9]

On December 26, 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision in favor of


therein petitioners (herein respondents), the dispositive portion of which reads, viz:
ACCORDINGLY, the PRIVILEGE
AMPARO is GRANTED.

OF

THE

WRIT

OF

The
respondents SECRETARY
OF
NATIONAL
DEFENSE and AFP CHIEF OF STAFF are hereby REQUIRED:
1. To furnish to the petitioners and to this Court within five days from
notice of this decision all official and unofficial reports of the
investigation undertaken in connection with their case, except those
already on file herein;
2. To confirm in writing the present places of official assignment of
M/Sgt Hilario aka Rollie Castillo and Donald Caigas within five days
from notice of this decision.
3. To cause to be produced to this Court all medical reports, records and
charts, reports of any treatment given or recommended and medicines
prescribed, if any, to the petitioners, to include a list of medical and
(sic) personnel (military and civilian) who attended to them from
February 14, 2006 until August 12, 2007 within five days from notice
of this decision.

The compliance with this decision shall be made under the


signature and oath of respondent AFP Chief of Staff or his duly
authorized deputy, the latters authority to be express and made apparent
on the face of the sworn compliance with this directive.
SO ORDERED.[10]

Hence, this appeal. In resolving this appeal, we first unfurl the facts as
alleged by herein respondents:
Respondent Raymond Manalo recounted that about one or two weeks before
February 14, 2006, several uniformed and armed soldiers and members of the
CAFGU summoned to a meeting all the residents of theirbarangay in San
Idelfonso, Bulacan. Respondents were not able to attend as they were not
informed of the gathering, but Raymond saw some of the soldiers when he passed
by the barangay hall.[11]
On February 14, 2006, Raymond was sleeping in their house in Buhol na
Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan. At past noon, several armed soldiers wearing
white shirts, fatigue pants and army boots, entered their house and roused
him. They asked him if he was Bestre, but his mother, Ester Manalo, replied that
he was Raymond, not Bestre. The armed soldier slapped him on both cheeks and
nudged him in the stomach. He was then handcuffed, brought to the rear of his
house, and forced to the ground face down. He was kicked on the hip, ordered to
stand and face up to the light, then forcibly brought near the road. He told his
mother to follow him, but three soldiers stopped her and told her to stay.[12]
Among the men who came to take him, Raymond recognized brothers
Michael de la Cruz, Madning de la Cruz, Puti de la Cruz, and Pula de la Cruz,
who all acted as lookout. They were all members of the CAFGU and residing in
Manuzon, San Ildefonso, Bulacan. He also recognized brothers Randy Mendoza
and Rudy Mendoza, also members of the CAFGU. While he was being forcibly
taken, he also saw outside of his house two barangay councilors, Pablo Cunanan
and Bernardo Lingasa, with some soldiers and armed men.[13]
The men forced Raymond into a white L300 van. Once inside, he was
blindfolded. Before being blindfolded, he saw the faces of the soldiers who took
him. Later, in his 18 months of captivity, he learned their names. The one who
drove the van was Rizal Hilario alias Rollie Castillo, whom he estimated was about
40 years of age or older. The leader of the team who entered his house and
abducted him was Ganata. He was tall, thin, curly-haired and a bit old. Another

one of his abductors was George who was tall, thin, white-skinned and about 30
years old.[14]
The van drove off, then came to a stop. A person was brought inside the van
and made to sit beside Raymond. Both of them were beaten up. On the road, he
recognized the voice of the person beside him as his brother Reynaldos. The van
stopped several times until they finally arrived at a house. Raymond and Reynaldo
were each brought to a different room. With the doors of their rooms left open,
Raymond saw several soldiers continuously hitting his brother Reynaldo on the
head and other parts of his body with the butt of their guns for about 15
minutes. After which, Reynaldo was brought to his (Raymonds) room and it was
his (Raymonds) turn to be beaten up in the other room. The soldiers asked him if
he was a member of the New Peoples Army. Each time he said he was not, he
was hit with the butt of their guns. He was questioned where his comrades were,
how many soldiers he had killed, and how many NPA members he had
helped. Each time he answered none, they hit him.[15]
In the next days, Raymonds interrogators appeared to be high officials as
the soldiers who beat him up would salute them, call them sir, and treat them
with respect. He was in blindfolds when interrogated by the high officials, but he
saw their faces when they arrived and before the blindfold was put on. He noticed
that the uniform of the high officials was different from those of the other
soldiers. One of those officials was tall and thin, wore white pants, tie, and leather
shoes, instead of combat boots. He spoke in Tagalog and knew much about his
parents and family, and a habeas corpus case filed in connection with the
respondents abduction.[16] While these officials interrogated him, Raymond was
not manhandled. But once they had left, the soldier guards beat him up. When the
guards got drunk, they also manhandled respondents. During this time, Raymond
was fed only at night, usually with left-over and rotten food.[17]
On the third week of respondents detention, two men arrived while
Raymond was sleeping and beat him up. They doused him with urine and hot
water, hit his stomach with a piece of wood, slapped his forehead twice with a .45
pistol, punched him on the mouth, and burnt some parts of his body with a burning
wood. When he could no longer endure the torture and could hardly breathe, they
stopped. They then subjected Reynaldo to the same ordeal in another
room. Before their torturers left, they warned Raymond that they would come
back the next day and kill him.[18]

The following night, Raymond attempted to escape. He waited for the


guards to get drunk, then made noise with the chains put on him to see if they were
still awake. When none of them came to check on him, he managed to free his
hand from the chains and jumped through the window. He passed through a
helipad and firing range and stopped near a fishpond where he used stones to break
his chains. After walking through a forested area, he came near a river and an
Iglesia ni Kristo church. He talked to some women who were doing the laundry,
asked where he was and the road to Gapan. He was told that he was
in Fort Magsaysay.[19] He reached the highway, but some soldiers spotted him,
forcing him to run away. The soldiers chased him and caught up with him. They
brought him to another place near the entrance of what he saw
was Fort Magsaysay. He was boxed repeatedly, kicked, and hit with chains until
his back bled. They poured gasoline on him. Then a so-called Mam or
Madam suddenly called, saying that she wanted to see Raymond before he was
killed. The soldiers ceased the torture and he was returned
inside Fort Magsaysay where Reynaldo was detained.[20]
For some weeks, the respondents had a respite from all the torture. Their
wounds were treated. When the wounds were almost healed, the torture resumed,
particularly when respondents guards got drunk.[21]
Raymond recalled that sometime in April until May 2006, he was detained in
a room enclosed by steel bars. He stayed all the time in that small room measuring
1 x 2 meters, and did everything there, including urinating, removing his bowels,
bathing, eating and sleeping. He counted that eighteen people[22] had been detained
in that bartolina, including his brother Reynaldo and himself.[23]
For about three and a half months, the respondents were detained
in Fort Magsaysay. They were kept in a small house with two rooms and a
kitchen. One room was made into the bartolina. The house was near the firing
range, helipad and mango trees. At dawn, soldiers marched by their house. They
were also sometimes detained in what he only knew as the DTU.[24]
At the DTU, a male doctor came to examine respondents. He checked their
body and eyes, took their urine samples and marked them. When asked how they
were feeling, they replied that they had a hard time urinating, their stomachs were
aching, and they felt other pains in their body. The next day, two ladies in white
arrived. They also examined respondents and gave them medicines, including
orasol, amoxicillin and mefenamic acid. They brought with them the results of
respondents urine test and advised them to drink plenty of water and take their

medicine. The two ladies returned a few more times. Thereafter, medicines were
sent through the master of the DTU, Master Del Rosario alias Carinyoso at
Puti. Respondents were kept in the DTU for about two weeks. While there, he
met a soldier named Efren who said that Gen. Palparan ordered him to monitor and
take care of them.[25]
One day, Rizal Hilario fetched respondents in a Revo vehicle. They, along
with Efren and several other armed men wearing fatigue suits, went to a
detachment in Pinaud, San Ildefonso, Bulacan. Respondents were detained for one
or two weeks in a big two-storey house. Hilario and Efren stayed with
them. While there, Raymond was beaten up by Hilarios men.[26]
From Pinaud, Hilario and Efren brought respondents to Sapang, San Miguel,
Bulacan on board the Revo. They were detained in a big unfinished house inside
the compound of Kapitan for about three months. When they arrived in Sapang,
Gen. Palparan talked to them. They were brought out of the house to a basketball
court in the center of the compound and made to sit. Gen. Palparan was already
waiting, seated. He was about two arms length away from respondents. He began
by asking if respondents felt well already, to which Raymond replied in the
affirmative. He asked Raymond if he knew him. Raymond lied that he did
not. He then asked Raymond if he would be scared if he were made to face Gen.
Palparan. Raymond responded that he would not be because he did not believe
that Gen. Palparan was an evil man.[27]
Raymond narrated his conversation with Gen. Palparan in his affidavit, viz:
Tinanong ako ni Gen. Palparan, Ngayon na kaharap mo na ako,
di ka ba natatakot sa akin?
Sumagot akong, Siyempre po, natatakot din
Sabi ni Gen. Palparan: Sige, bibigyan ko kayo ng isang
pagkakataon na mabuhay, bastat sundin nyo ang lahat ng sasabihin
ko sabihin mo sa magulang mo huwag pumunta sa mga rali, sa
hearing, sa Karapatan at sa Human Right dahil niloloko lang
kayo. Sabihin sa magulang at lahat sa bahay na huwag paloko
doon. Tulungan kami na kausapin si Bestre na sumuko na sa
gobyerno.[28]

Respondents agreed to do as Gen. Palparan told them as they felt they could
not do otherwise. At about 3:00 in the morning, Hilario, Efren and the formers
men - the same group that abducted them - brought them to their parents

house. Raymond was shown to his parents while Reynaldo stayed in the Revo
because he still could not walk. In the presence of Hilario and other soldiers,
Raymond relayed to his parents what Gen. Palparan told him. As they were afraid,
Raymonds parents acceded. Hilario threatened Raymonds parents that if they
continued to join human rights rallies, they would never see their children
again. The respondents were then brought back to Sapang.[29]
When respondents arrived back in Sapang, Gen. Palparan was about to
leave. He was talking with the four masters who were there: Arman, Ganata,
Hilario and Cabalse.[30] When Gen. Palparan saw Raymond, he called for him. He
was in a big white vehicle. Raymond stood outside the vehicle as Gen. Palparan
told him to gain back his strength and be healthy and to take the medicine he left
for him and Reynaldo. He said the medicine was expensive at Php35.00 each, and
would make them strong. He also said that they should prove that they are on the
side of the military and warned that they would not be given another
chance.[31] During his testimony, Raymond identified Gen. Palparan by his
picture.[32]
One of the soldiers named Arman made Raymond take the medicine left by
Gen. Palparan. The medicine, named Alive, was green and yellow. Raymond
and Reynaldo were each given a box of this medicine and instructed to take one
capsule a day. Arman checked if they were getting their dose of the
medicine. The Alive made them sleep each time they took it, and they felt heavy
upon waking up.[33]
After a few days, Hilario arrived again. He took Reynaldo and left Raymond
at Sapang. Arman instructed Raymond that while in Sapang, he should introduce
himself as Oscar, a military trainee from Sariaya, Quezon, assigned in
Bulacan. While there, he saw again Ganata, one of the men who abducted him
from his house, and got acquainted with other military men and civilians.[34]
After about three months in Sapang, Raymond was brought
to Camp Tecson under the 24th Infantry Battalion. He was fetched by three
unidentified men in a big white vehicle. Efren went with them. Raymond was
then blindfolded. After a 30-minute ride, his blindfold was removed. Chains were
put on him and he was kept in the barracks.[35]
The next day, Raymonds chains were removed and he was ordered to clean
outside the barracks. It was then he learned that he was in a detachment of the
Rangers. There were many soldiers, hundreds of them were training. He was also
ordered to clean inside the barracks. In one of the rooms therein, he met Sherlyn

Cadapan from Laguna. She told him that she was a student of the University of
the Philippines and was abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan. She confided that she had
been subjected to severe torture and raped. She was crying and longing to go
home and be with her parents. During the day, her chains were removed and she
was made to do the laundry.[36]
After a week, Reynaldo was also brought to Camp Tecson. Two days from
his arrival, two other captives, Karen Empeo and Manuel Merino, arrived. Karen
and Manuel were put in the room with Allan whose name they later came to
know as Donald Caigas, called master or commander by his men in the
24th Infantry Battalion. Raymond and Reynaldo were put in the adjoining
room. At times, Raymond and Reynaldo were threatened, and Reynaldo was
beaten up. In the daytime, their chains were removed, but were put back on at
night. They were threatened that if they escaped, their families would all be
killed.[37]
On or about October 6, 2006, Hilario arrived in Camp Tecson. He told the
detainees that they should be thankful they were still alive and should continue
along their renewed life. Before the hearing of November 6 or 8, 2006,
respondents were brought to their parents to instruct them not to attend the
hearing. However, their parents had already left for Manila. Respondents were
brought back to Camp Tecson. They stayed in that camp from September 2006 to
November 2006, and Raymond was instructed to continue using the name Oscar
and holding himself out as a military trainee. He got acquainted with soldiers of
the 24thInfantry Battalion whose names and descriptions he stated in his
affidavit.[38]
On November 22, 2006, respondents, along with Sherlyn, Karen, and
Manuel, were transferred to a camp of the 24th Infantry Battalion in
Limay, Bataan. There were many huts in the camp. They stayed in that camp
until May 8, 2007. Some soldiers of the battalion stayed with them. While there,
battalion soldiers whom Raymond knew as Mar and Billy beat him up and hit
him in the stomach with their guns. Sherlyn and Karen also suffered enormous
torture in the camp. They were all made to clean, cook, and help in raising
livestock.[39]
Raymond recalled that when Operation Lubog was launched, Caigas and
some other soldiers brought him and Manuel with them to take and kill all
sympathizers of the NPA. They were brought to Barangay Bayanbayanan, Bataan where he witnessed the killing of an old man doing kaingin. The

soldiers said he was killed because he had a son who was a member of the NPA
and he coddled NPA members in his house.[40] Another time, in another Operation
Lubog, Raymond was brought to Barangay Orion in a house where NPA men
stayed. When they arrived, only the old man of the house who was sick was
there. They spared him and killed only his son right before Raymonds
eyes.[41]
From Limay, Raymond, Reynaldo, Sherlyn, Karen, and Manuel were
transferred to Zambales, in a safehouse near the sea. Caigas and some of his men
stayed with them. A retired army soldier was in charge of the house. Like in
Limay, the five detainees were made to do errands and chores. They stayed in
Zambales from May 8 or 9, 2007 until June 2007.[42]
In June 2007, Caigas brought the five back to the camp in Limay. Raymond,
Reynaldo, and Manuel were tasked to bring food to detainees brought to the
camp. Raymond narrated what he witnessed and experienced in the camp, viz:
Isang gabi, sinabihan kami ni Donald (Caigas) na matulog na
kami. Nakita ko si Donald na inaayos ang kanyang baril, at nilagyan ng
silenser. Sabi ni Donald na kung mayroon man kaming makita o marinig,
walang nangyari. Kinaumagahan, nakita naming ang bangkay ng isa sa
mga bihag na dinala sa kampo. Mayroong binuhos sa kanyang katawan
at itoy sinunog. Masansang ang amoy.
Makaraan ang isang lingo, dalawang bangkay and ibinaba ng mga
unipormadong sundalo mula sa 6 x 6 na trak at dinala sa loob ng
kampo. May naiwang mga bakas ng dugo habang hinihila nila ang mga
bangkay. Naamoy ko iyon nang nililinis ang bakas.
Makalipas ang isa o dalawang lingo, may dinukot sila na
dalawang Ita. Itinali sila sa labas ng kubo, piniringan, ikinadena at labis
na binugbog. Nakita kong nakatakas ang isa sa kanila at binaril siya ng
sundalo ngunit hindi siya tinamaan. Iyong gabi nakita kong pinatay nila
iyong isang Ita malapit sa Post 3; sinilaban ang bangkay at ibinaon ito.
Pagkalipas ng halos 1 buwan, 2 pang bangkay ang dinala sa
kampo. Ibinaba ang mga bangkay mula sa pick up trak, dinala ang mga
bangkay sa labas ng bakod. Kinaumagahan nakita kong mayroong
sinilaban, at napakamasangsang ang amoy.

May nakilala rin akong 1 retiradong koronel at 1 kasama


niya. Pinakain ko sila. Sabi nila sa akin na dinukot sila sa Bataan. Iyong
gabi, inilabas sila at hindi ko na sila nakita.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Ikinadena kami ng 3 araw. Sa ikatlong araw, nilabas ni Lat si


Manuel dahil kakausapin daw siya ni Gen. Palparan. Nakapiring si
Manuel, wala siyang suot pang-itaas, pinosasan. Nilakasan ng mga
sundalo ang tunog na galing sa istiryo ng sasakyan. Di nagtagal, narinig
ko ang hiyaw o ungol ni Manuel. Sumilip ako sa isang haligi ng kamalig
at nakita kong sinisilaban si Manuel.
Kinaumagahan, naka-kadena pa kami. Tinanggal ang mga
kadena mga 3 o 4 na araw pagkalipas. Sinabi sa amin na kaya kami
nakakadena ay dahil pinagdedesisyunan pa ng mga sundalo kung
papatayin kami o hindi.
Tinanggal
ang
aming
kadena. Kinausap
kami
ni
Donald. Tinanong kami kung ano ang sabi ni Manuel sa amin. Sabi ni
Donald huwag na raw naming hanapin ang dalawang babae at si Manuel,
dahil magkakasama na yung tatlo. Sabi pa ni Donald na kami ni
Reynaldo ay magbagong buhay at ituloy namin ni Reynaldo ang
trabaho. Sa gabi, hindi na kami kinakadena.[43]

On or about June 13, 2007, Raymond and Reynaldo were brought to


Pangasinan, ostensibly to raise poultry for Donald (Caigas). Caigas told
respondents to also farm his land, in exchange for which, he would take care of the
food of their family. They were also told that they could farm a small plot
adjoining his land and sell their produce. They were no longer put in chains and
were instructed to use the names Rommel (for Raymond) and Rod (for Reynaldo)
and represent themselves as cousins from Rizal, Laguna.[44]
Respondents started to plan their escape. They could see the highway from
where they stayed. They helped farm adjoining lands for which they were paid
Php200.00 or Php400.00 and they saved their earnings. When they had saved
Php1,000.00 each, Raymond asked a neighbor how he could get a cellular phone as
he wanted to exchange text messages with a girl who lived nearby. A phone was
pawned to him, but he kept it first and did not use it. They earned some more until
they had saved Php1,400.00 between them.

There were four houses in the compound. Raymond and Reynaldo were
housed in one of them while their guards lived in the other three. Caigas entrusted
respondents to Nonong, the head of the guards. Respondents house did not have
electricity. They used a lamp. There was no television, but they had a radio. In
the evening of August 13, 2007, Nonong and his cohorts had a drinking
session. At about 1:00 a.m., Raymond turned up the volume of the radio. When
none of the guards awoke and took notice, Raymond and Reynaldo proceeded
towards the highway, leaving behind their sleeping guards and barking dogs. They
boarded a bus bound for Manila and were thus freed from captivity.[45]
Reynaldo also executed an affidavit affirming the contents of Raymonds
affidavit insofar as they related to matters they witnessed together. Reynaldo
added that when they were taken from their house onFebruary 14, 2006, he saw the
faces of his abductors before he was blindfolded with his shirt. He also named the
soldiers he got acquainted with in the 18 months he was detained. When Raymond
attempted to escape from Fort Magsaysay, Reynaldo was severely beaten up and
told that they were indeed members of the NPA because Raymond escaped. With
a .45 caliber pistol, Reynaldo was hit on the back and punched in the face until he
could no longer bear the pain.
At one point during their detention, when Raymond and Reynaldo were in
Sapang, Reynaldo was separated from Raymond and brought to Pinaud by Rizal
Hilario. He was kept in the house of Kapitan, a friend of Hilario, in a mountainous
area. He was instructed to use the name Rodel and to represent himself as a
military trainee from Meycauayan, Bulacan. Sometimes, Hilario brought along
Reynaldo in his trips. One time, he was brought to a market in San Jose, del
Monte, Bulacan and made to wait in the vehicle while Hilario was buying. He was
also brought to Tondo, Manila where Hilario delivered boxes of Alive in
different houses. In these trips, Hilario drove a black and red vehicle. Reynaldo
was blindfolded while still in Bulacan, but allowed to remove the blindfold once
outside
the
province. In
one
of
their
trips,
they
passed
by Fort Magsaysay andCamp Tecson where Reynaldo saw the sign board,
Welcome to Camp Tecson.[46]
Dr. Benito Molino, M.D., corroborated the accounts of respondents
Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo. Dr. Molino specialized in forensic medicine and
was connected with the Medical Action Group, an organization handling cases of
human rights violations, particularly cases where torture was involved. He was
requested by an NGO to conduct medical examinations on the respondents after
their escape. He first asked them about their ordeal, then proceeded with the

physical examination. His findings showed that the scars borne by respondents
were consistent with their account of physical injuries inflicted upon them. The
examination was conducted on August 15, 2007, two days after respondents
escape, and the results thereof were reduced into writing. Dr. Molino took
photographs of the scars. He testified that he followed the Istanbul Protocol in
conducting the examination.[47]
Petitioners dispute respondents account of their alleged abduction and
torture. In compliance with the October 25, 2007 Resolution of the Court, they
filed a Return of the Writ of Amparo admitting the abduction but denying any
involvement therein, viz:
13. Petitioners Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo were not at any
time arrested, forcibly abducted, detained, held incommunicado,
disappeared or under the custody by the military. This is a settled issue
laid to rest in the habeas corpuscase filed in their behalf by petitioners
parents before the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 94431 against
M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario aka Rollie Castillo, as head of the 24th Infantry
Battalion; Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, as Commander of the 7 th Infantry
Division in Luzon; Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, in his capacity as the
Commanding General of the Philippine Army, and members of the
Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), namely: Michael
dela Cruz, Puti dela Cruz, Madning dela Cruz, Pula dela Cruz, Randy
Mendoza and Rudy Mendoza. The respondents therein submitted a
return of the writ On July 4, 2006, the Court of Appeals dropped as
party respondents Lt. Gen. Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., then
Commanding General of the Philippine Army, and on September 19,
2006, Maj. (sic) Jovito S. Palparan, then Commanding General,
7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, stationed at Fort Magsaysay,
Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, upon a finding that no evidence was
introduced to establish their personal involvement in the taking of the
Manalo brothers. In a Decision dated June 27, 2007, it exonerated
M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario aka Rollie Castillo for lack of evidence establishing
his involvement in any capacity in the disappearance of the Manalo
brothers, although it held that the remaining respondents were illegally
detaining the Manalo brothers and ordered them to release the latter.[48]

Attached to the Return of the Writ was the affidavit of therein respondent
(herein petitioner) Secretary of National Defense, which attested that he assumed
office only on August 8, 2007 and was thus unaware of the Manalo brothers
alleged abduction. He also claimed that:

7. The Secretary of National Defense does not engage in actual military


directional operations, neither does he undertake command directions
of the AFP units in the field, nor in any way micromanage the AFP
operations. The principal responsibility of the Secretary of National
Defense is focused in providing strategic policy direction to the
Department (bureaus and agencies) including the Armed Forces of
the Philippines;
8. In connection with the Writ of Amparo issued by the Honorable
Supreme Court in this case, I have directed the Chief of Staff, AFP to
institute immediate action in compliance with Section 9(d) of
the Amparo Rule and to submit report of such compliance
Likewise, in a Memorandum Directive also dated October 31, 2007, I
have issued a policy directive addressed to the Chief of Staff, AFP
that the AFP should adopt the following rules of action in the event
the Writ ofAmparo is issued by a competent court against any
members of the AFP:
(1) to verify the identity of the aggrieved party;
(2) to recover and preserve evidence related to the death or
disappearance of the person identified in the petition which may
aid in the prosecution of the person or persons responsible;
(3) to identify witnesses and obtain statements from them concerning
the death or disappearance;
(4) to determine the cause, manner, location and time of death or
disappearance as well as any pattern or practice that may have
brought about the death or disappearance;
(5) to identify and apprehend the person or persons involved in the
death or disappearance; and
(6) to bring the suspected offenders before a competent court.[49]

Therein respondent AFP Chief of Staff also submitted his own affidavit,
attached to the Return of the Writ, attesting that he received the above directive of
therein respondent Secretary of National Defense and that acting on this directive,
he did the following:
3.1. As currently designated Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP), I have caused to be issued directive to the units of the

AFP for the purpose of establishing the circumstances of the alleged


disappearance and the recent reappearance of the petitioners.
3.2. I have caused the immediate investigation and submission of
the result thereof to Higher headquarters and/or direct the immediate
conduct of the investigation on the matter by the concerned unit/s,
dispatching Radio Message on November 05, 2007, addressed to the
Commanding General, Philippine Army (Info: COMNOLCOM, CG,
71D PA and CO 24 IB PA). A Copy of the Radio Message is attached as
ANNEX 3 of this Affidavit.
3.3. We undertake to provide result of the investigations
conducted or to be conducted by the concerned unit relative to the
circumstances of the alleged disappearance of the persons in whose favor
the Writ of Amparo has been sought for as soon as the same has been
furnished Higher headquarters.
3.4. A parallel investigation has been directed to the same units
relative to another Petition for the Writ of Amparo (G.R. No. 179994)
filed at the instance of relatives of a certain Cadapan and Empeo
pending before the Supreme Court.
3.5. On the part of the Armed Forces, this respondent will exert
earnest efforts to establish the surrounding circumstances of the
disappearances of the petitioners and to bring those responsible,
including any military personnel if shown to have participated or had
complicity in the commission of the complained acts, to the bar of
justice, when warranted by the findings and the competent evidence that
may be gathered in the process.[50]

Also attached to the Return of the Writ was the affidavit of Lt. Col. Felipe
Anontado, INF (GSC) PA, earlier filed in G.R. No. 179994, another amparo case
in this Court, involving Cadapan, Empeo and Merino, which averred among
others, viz:
10) Upon reading the allegations in the Petition implicating the
24 Infantry Batallion detachment as detention area, I immediately went
to the 24th IB detachment in Limay, Bataan and found no untoward
incidents in the area nor any detainees by the name of Sherlyn Cadapan,
Karen Empeo and Manuel Merino being held captive;
th

11) There was neither any reports of any death of Manuel Merino
in the 24th IB in Limay, Bataan;
12) After going to the 24th IB in Limay, Bataan, we made further
inquiries with the Philippine National Police, Limay, Bataan regarding
the alleged detentions or deaths and were informed that none was
reported to their good office;
13) I also directed Company Commander 1st Lt. Romeo Publico
to inquire into the alleged beachhouse in Iba, Zambales also alleged to
be a detention place where Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeo and Manuel
Merino were detained. As per the inquiry, however, no such beachhouse
was used as a detention place found to have been used by armed men to
detain Cadapan, Empeo and Merino.[51]

It was explained in the Return of the Writ that for lack of sufficient time, the
affidavits of Maj. Gen Jovito S. Palparan (Ret.), M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario aka Rollie
Castillo, and other persons implicated by therein petitioners could not be secured
in time for the submission of the Return and would be subsequently submitted.[52]
Herein petitioners presented a lone witness in the summary hearings, Lt. Col.
Ruben U. Jimenez, Provost Marshall, 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, based
in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija. The territorial jurisdiction of this
Division covers Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and a
portion of Pangasinan.[53] The 24th Infantry Battalion is part of the 7th Infantry
Division.[54]
On May 26, 2006, Lt. Col. Jimenez was directed by the Commanding
General of the 7th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palaran,[55] through his
Assistant Chief of Staff,[56] to investigate the alleged abduction of the respondents
by CAFGU auxiliaries under his unit, namely: CAA Michael de la Cruz; CAA
Roman de la Cruz, aka Puti; CAA Maximo de la Cruz, aka Pula; CAA Randy
Mendoza; ex-CAA Marcelo de la Cruz aka Madning; and a civilian named Rudy
Mendoza. He was directed to determine: (1) the veracity of the abduction of
Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo by the alleged elements of the CAFGU
auxiliaries; and (2) the administrative liability of said auxiliaries, if
any.[57] Jimenez testified that this particular investigation was initiated not by a
complaint as was the usual procedure, but because the Commanding General saw
news about the abduction of the Manalo brothers on the television, and he was
concerned about what was happening within his territorial jurisdiction.[58]

Jimenez summoned all six implicated persons for the purpose of having
them execute sworn statements and conducting an investigation on May 29,
2006.[59] The investigation started at 8:00 in the morning and finished at 10:00 in
the evening.[60] The investigating officer, Technical Sgt. Eduardo Lingad, took the
individual sworn statements of all six persons on that day. There were no other
sworn statements taken, not even of the Manalo family, nor were there other
witnesses summoned and investigated[61] as according to Jimenez, the directive to
him was only to investigate the six persons.[62]
Jimenez was beside Lingad when the latter took the statements.[63] The six
persons were not known to Jimenez as it was in fact his first time to meet
them.[64] During the entire time that he was beside Lingad, a subordinate of his in
the Office of the Provost Marshall, Jimenez did not propound a single question to
the six persons.[65]
Jimenez testified that all six statements were taken on May 29, 2006, but
Marcelo Mendoza and Rudy Mendoza had to come back the next day to sign their
statements as the printing of their statements was interrupted by a power
failure. Jimenez testified that the two signed on May 30, 2006, but the jurats of
their statements indicated that they were signed on May 29, 2006.[66] When the
Sworn Statements were turned over to Jimenez, he personally wrote his
investigation report. He began writing it in the afternoon of May 30, 2006 and
finished it on June 1, 2006.[67] He then gave his report to the Office of the Chief of
Personnel.[68]
As petitioners largely rely on Jimenezs Investigation Report dated June 1,
2006 for their evidence, the report is herein substantially quoted:
III. BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
4. This pertains to the abduction of RAYMOND MANALO and
REYNALDO MANALO who were forcibly taken from their respective
homes in Brgy. Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan on 14
February 2006 by unidentified armed men and thereafter were forcibly
disappeared. After the said incident, relatives of the victims filed a case
for Abduction in the civil court against the herein suspects: Michael dela
Cruz, Madning dela Cruz, Puti Dela Cruz, Pula Dela Cruz, Randy
Mendoza and Rudy Mendoza as alleged members of the Citizen Armed
Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
a) Sworn statement of CAA Maximo F. dela Cruz,
aka Pula dated 29 May 2006 in (Exhibit B) states that he was at Sitio

Mozon, Brgy. Bohol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan doing the


concrete building of a church located nearby his residence, together with
some neighbor thereat. He claims that on 15 February 2006, he was
being informed by Brgy. Kagawad Pablo Umayan about the abduction of
the brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo. As to the allegation that
he was one of the suspects, he claims that they only implicated him
because he was a CAFGU and that they claimed that those who abducted
the Manalo brothers are members of the Military and CAFGU. Subject
vehemently denied any participation or involvement on the abduction of
said victims.
b) Sworn statement of CAA Roman dela Cruz y Faustino Aka
Puti dtd 29 May 2006 in (Exhibit C) states that he is a resident of Sitio
Muzon, Brgy. Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan and a CAA
member based at Biak na Bato Detachment, San Miguel, Bulacan. He
claims that Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo being his neighbors are
active members/sympathizers of the CPP/NPA and he also knows their
elder Rolando Manalo @ KA BESTRE of being an NPA Leader
operating in their province. That at the time of the alleged abduction of
the two (2) brothers and for accusing him to be one of the suspects, he
claims that on February 14, 2006, he was one of those working at the
concrete chapel being constructed nearby his residence. He claims
further that he just came only to know about the incident on other day
(15 Feb 06) when he was being informed by Kagawad Pablo
Kunanan. That subject CAA vehemently denied any participation about
the incident and claimed that they only implicated him because he is a
member of the CAFGU.
c) Sworn Statement of CAA Randy Mendoza y Lingas dated 29
May 2006 in (Exhibit O) states that he is a resident of Brgy. Buhol na
Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan and a member of CAFGU based
at Biak na Bato Detachment. That being a neighbor, he was very much
aware about the background of the two (2) brothers Raymond and
Reynaldo as active supporters of the CPP NPA in their Brgy. and he also
knew their elder brother KUMANDER BESTRE TN: Rolando
Manalo. Being one of the accused, he claims that on 14 February 2006,
he was at Brgy. Magmarate, San Miguel, Bulacan in the house of his
aunt and he learned only about the incident when he arrived home in
their place. He claims further that the only reason why they implicated
him was due to the fact that his mother has filed a criminal charge
against their brother Rolando Manalo @ KA BESTRE who is an NPA
Commander who killed his father and for that reason they implicated

him in support of their brother. Subject CAA vehemently denied any


involvement on the abduction of said Manalo brothers.
d) Sworn Statement of Rudy Mendoza y Lingasa dated May 29,
2006 in (Exhibit E) states that he is a resident of Brgy. Marungko,
Angat, Bulacan. He claims that Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo are
familiar to him being his barriomate when he was still unmarried and he
knew them since childhood. Being one of the accused, he claims that
on 14 February 2006, he was at his residence in Brgy. Marungko, Angat,
Bulacan. He claims that he was being informed only about the incident
lately and he was not aware of any reason why the two (2) brothers were
being abducted by alleged members of the military and CAFGU. The
only reason he knows why they implicated him was because there are
those people who are angry with their family particularly victims of
summary execution (killing) done by their brother @ KA Bestre
Rolando Manalo who is an NPA leader. He claims further that it was
their brother @ KA BESTRE who killed his father and he was living
witness to that incident. Subject civilian vehemently denied any
involvement on the abduction of the Manalo brothers.
e) Sworn statement of Ex-CAA Marcelo dala Cruz dated 29 May
2006 in (Exhibit F) states that he is a resident of Sitio Muzon, Brgy.
Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, a farmer and a former CAA
based at Biak na Bato, San Miguel, Bulacan. He claims that Raymond
and Reynaldo Manalo are familiar to him being their barrio mate. He
claims further that they are active supporters of CPP/NPA and that their
brother Rolando Manalo @ KA BESTRE is an NPA leader. Being one
of the accused, he claims that on 14 February 2006, he was in his
residence at Sitio Muzon, Brgy. Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso,
Bulacan. That he vehemently denied any participation of the alleged
abduction of the two (2) brothers and learned only about the incident
when rumors reached him by his barrio mates. He claims that his
implication is merely fabricated because of his relationship to Roman
and Maximo who are his brothers.
f) Sworn statement of Michael dela Cruz y Faustino dated 29
May 2006 in (Exhibit G) states that he is a resident of Sitio Muzon,
Brgy. Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, the Chief of Brgy.
Tanod and a CAFGU member based at Biak na Bato Detachment, San
Miguel, Bulacan. He claims that he knew very well the brothers
Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo in their barangay for having been the
Tanod Chief for twenty (20) years. He alleged further that they are

active supporters or sympathizers of the CPP/NPA and whose elder


brother Rolando Manalo @ KA BESTRE is an NPA leader operating
within the area. Being one of the accused, he claims that on 14 Feb 2006
he was helping in the construction of their concrete chapel in their place
and he learned only about the incident which is the abduction of
Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo when one of the Brgy. Kagawad in the
person of Pablo Cunanan informed him about the matter. He claims
further that he is truly innocent of the allegation against him as being one
of the abductors and he considers everything fabricated in order to
destroy his name that remains loyal to his service to the government as a
CAA member.
IV. DISCUSSION
5. Based on the foregoing statements of respondents in this
particular case, the proof of linking them to the alleged abduction and
disappearance of Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo that transpired on 14
February 2006 at Sitio Muzon, Brgy. Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso,
Bulacan, is unsubstantiated. Their alleged involvement theretofore to
that incident is considered doubtful, hence, no basis to indict them as
charged in this investigation.
Though there are previous grudges between each families (sic) in
the past to quote: the killing of the father of Randy and Rudy Mendoza
by @ KA BESTRE TN: Rolando Manalo, this will not suffice to
establish a fact that they were the ones who did the abduction as a form
of revenge. As it was also stated in the testimony of other accused
claiming that the Manalos are active sympathizers/supporters of the
CPP/NPA, this would not also mean, however, that in the first place,
they were in connivance with the abductors. Being their neighbors and
as members of CAFGUs, they ought to be vigilant in protecting their
village from any intervention by the leftist group, hence inside their
village, they were fully aware of the activities of Raymond and Reynaldo
Manalo in so far as their connection with the CPP/NPA is concerned.
V.

CONCLUSION

6. Premises considered surrounding this case shows that the


alleged charges of abduction committed by the above named respondents
has not been established in this investigation. Hence, it lacks merit to
indict them for any administrative punishment and/or criminal
liability. It is therefore concluded that they are innocent of the charge.

VI.

RECOMMENDATIONS

7. That CAAs Michael F. dela Cruz, Maximo F. Dela Cruz,


Roman dela Cruz, Randy Mendoza, and two (2) civilians Maximo F.
Dela Cruz and Rudy L. Mendoza be exonerated from the case.
8. Upon approval, this case can be dropped and closed.[69]

In this appeal under Rule 45, petitioners question the appellate courts
assessment of the foregoing evidence and assail the December 26, 2007 Decision
on the following grounds, viz:
I.
THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY AND GRIEVOUSLY
ERRED IN BELIEVING AND GIVING FULL FAITH AND CREDIT
TO THE INCREDIBLE, UNCORROBORATED, CONTRADICTED,
AND OBVIOUSLY SCRIPTED, REHEARSED AND SELF-SERVING
AFFIDAVIT/TESTIMONY OF HEREIN RESPONDENT RAYMOND
MANALO.
II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY AND GRIEVOUSLY
ERRED IN REQUIRING RESPONDENTS (HEREIN PETITIONERS)
TO: (A) FURNISH TO THE MANALO BROTHER(S) AND TO THE
COURT OF APPEALS ALL OFFICIAL AND UNOFFICIAL
REPORTS OF THE INVESTIGATION UNDERTAKEN IN
CONNECTION WITH THEIR CASE, EXCEPT THOSE ALREADY
IN FILE WITH THE COURT; (B) CONFIRM IN WRITING THE
PRESENT PLACES OF OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT OF M/SGT.
HILARIO aka ROLLIE CASTILLO AND DONALD CAIGAS; AND
(C) CAUSE TO BE PRODUCED TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
ALL MEDICAL REPORTS, RECORDS AND CHARTS, AND
REPORTS OF ANY TREATMENT GIVEN OR RECOMMENDED
AND MEDICINES PRESCRIBED, IF ANY, TO THE MANALO
BROTHERS, TO INCLUDE A LIST OF MEDICAL PERSONNEL
(MILITARY AND CIVILIAN) WHO ATTENDED TO THEM FROM
FEBRUARY 14, 2006 UNTIL AUGUST 12, 2007.[70]

The case at bar is the first decision on the application of the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo (Amparo Rule). Let us hearken to its beginning.
The adoption of the Amparo Rule surfaced as a recurring proposition in the
recommendations that resulted from a two-day National Consultative Summit on
Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances sponsored by the Court
on July 16-17, 2007. The Summit was envisioned to provide a broad and factbased perspective on the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances,[71] hence representatives from all sides of the political and social
spectrum, as well as all the stakeholders in the justice system [72] participated in
mapping out ways to resolve the crisis.
On October 24, 2007, the Court promulgated the Amparo Rule in light of
the prevalence of extralegal killing and enforced disappearances.[73] It was an
exercise for the first time of the Courts expanded power to promulgate rules to
protect our peoples constitutional rights, which made its maiden appearance in the
1987 Constitution in response to the Filipino experience of the martial law
regime.[74] As the Amparo Rule was intended to address the intractable problem of
extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, its coverage, in its present
form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof. Extralegal killings
are killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards
or judicial proceedings.[75] On the other hand, enforced disappearances are
attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or abduction of a
person by a government official or organized groups or private individuals acting
with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of the State
to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to
acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the
protection of law.[76]
The writ of amparo originated in Mexico. Amparo literally means
protection in Spanish.[77] In 1837, de Tocquevilles Democracy in
America became available in Mexico and stirred great interest. Its description of
the practice of judicial review in the U.S. appealed to many Mexican
jurists.[78] One of them, Manuel Crescencio Rejn, drafted a constitutional
provision for his native state, Yucatan,[79] which granted judges the power to
protect all persons in the enjoyment of their constitutional and legal rights. This
idea was incorporated into the national constitution in 1847, viz:
The federal courts shall protect any inhabitant of the Republic in
the exercise and preservation of those rights granted to him by this
Constitution and by laws enacted pursuant hereto, against attacks by the

Legislative and Executive powers of the federal or state governments,


limiting themselves to granting protection in the specific case in
litigation, making no general declaration concerning the statute or
regulation that motivated the violation.[80]

Since then, the protection has been an important part of Mexican


constitutionalism.[81] If, after hearing, the judge determines that a constitutional
right of the petitioner is being violated, he orders the official, or the officials
superiors, to cease the violation and to take the necessary measures to restore the
petitioner to the full enjoyment of the right in question. Amparo thus combines the
principles of judicial review derived from the U.S. with the limitations on judicial
power characteristic of the civil law tradition which prevails in Mexico. It enables
courts to enforce the constitution by protecting individual rights in particular cases,
but prevents them from using this power to make law for the entire nation.[82]
The writ of amparo then spread throughout the Western Hemisphere,
gradually evolving into various forms, in response to the particular needs of each
country.[83] It became, in the words of a justice of theMexican Federal Supreme
Court, one piece of Mexicos self-attributed task of conveying to the worlds legal
heritage that institution which, as a shield of human dignity, her own painful
history conceived.[84] What began as a protection against acts or omissions of
public authorities in violation of constitutional rights later evolved for several
purposes: (1) amparo libertad for the protection of personal freedom, equivalent to
thehabeas corpus writ; (2) amparo contra leyes for the judicial review of the
constitutionality of statutes; (3) amparo casacion for the judicial review of the
constitutionality and legality of a judicial decision; (4) amparo administrativo for
the judicial review of administrative actions; and (5) amparo agrario for the
protection of peasants rights derived from the agrarian reform process.[85]
In Latin American countries, except Cuba, the writ of amparo has been
constitutionally adopted to protect against human rights abuses especially
committed in countries under military juntas. In general, these countries adopted
an all-encompassing writ to protect the whole gamut of constitutional rights,
including
socio-economic
rights.[86] Other
countries
like Colombia, Chile, Germany and Spain, however, have chosen to limit the
protection of the writ of amparo only to some constitutional guarantees or
fundamental rights.[87]
In the Philippines, while the 1987 Constitution does not explicitly provide
for the writ of amparo, several of the above amparo protections are guaranteed by

our charter. The second paragraph of Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987
Constitution, the Grave Abuse Clause, provides for the judicial power to
determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government. The Clause accords a similar general protection to human rights
extended by the amparo contra leyes, amparo casacion, and amparo
administrativo. Amparo libertad is comparable to the remedy of habeas
corpus found in several provisions of the 1987 Constitution.[88] The Clause is an
offspring of the U.S. common law tradition of judicial review, which finds its roots
in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison.[89]
While constitutional rights can be protected under the Grave Abuse Clause
through remedies of injunction or prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
and a petition for habeas corpus under Rule 102,[90] these remedies may not be
adequate to address the pestering problem of extralegal killings and enforced
disappearances. However, with the swiftness required to resolve a petition for a
writ of amparo through summary proceedings and the availability of appropriate
interim and permanent reliefs under the Amparo Rule, this hybrid writ of the
common law and civil law traditions - borne out of the Latin American and
Philippine experience of human rights abuses - offers a better remedy to extralegal
killings and enforced disappearances and threats thereof. The remedy provides
rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only
substantial evidence to make the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is
not an action to determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt,
or liability for damages requiring preponderance of evidence, or administrative
responsibility requiring substantial evidence that will require full and exhaustive
proceedings.[91]
The writ of amparo serves both preventive and curative roles in addressing
the problem of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. It is preventive in
that it breaks the expectation of impunity in the commission of these offenses; it is
curative in that it facilitates the subsequent punishment of perpetrators as it will
inevitably yield leads to subsequent investigation and action. In the long run, the
goal of both the preventive and curative roles is to deter the further commission of
extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.
In the case at bar, respondents initially filed an action for Prohibition,
Injunction, and Temporary Restraining Order[92] to stop petitioners and/or their
officers and agents from depriving the respondents of their right to liberty and
other basic rights on August 23, 2007,[93] prior to the promulgation of

the Amparo Rule. They also sought ancillary remedies including Protective
Custody Orders, Appointment of Commissioner, Inspection and Access Orders and
other legal and equitable remedies under Article VIII, Section 5(5) of the 1987
Constitution and Rule 135, Section 6 of the Rules of Court. When
the Amparo Rule came into effect onOctober 24, 2007, they moved to have their
petition treated as an amparo petition as it would be more effective and suitable to
the circumstances of the Manalo brothers enforced disappearance. The Court
granted their motion.
With this backdrop, we now come to the arguments of the
petitioner. Petitioners first argument in disputing the Decision of the Court of
Appeals states, viz:
The Court of Appeals seriously and grievously erred in believing
and giving full faith and credit to the incredible uncorroborated,
contradicted, and obviously scripted, rehearsed and self-serving
affidavit/testimony of herein respondent Raymond Manalo.[94]

In delving into the veracity of the evidence, we need to mine and refine the
ore of petitioners cause of action, to determine whether the evidence presented is
metal-strong to satisfy the degree of proof required.
Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides for the following
causes of action, viz:
Section 1. Petition. The petition for 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.
The writ shall cover extralegal killings
disappearances or threats thereof. (emphasis supplied)

and enforced

Sections 17 and 18, on the other hand, provide for the degree of proof
required, viz:
Sec. 17. Burden of Proof and Standard of Diligence Required.
The parties shall establish their claims by substantial evidence.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Sec. 18. Judgment. If the allegations in the petition are


proven by substantial evidence, the court shall grant the privilege of
the writ and such reliefs as may be proper and appropriate; otherwise,
the privilege shall be denied. (emphases supplied)

Substantial evidence has been defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable


mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.[95]
After careful perusal of the evidence presented, we affirm the findings of the
Court of Appeals that respondents were abducted from their houses in Sito Muzon,
Brgy. Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan onFebruary 14, 2006 and were
continuously detained until they escaped on August 13, 2007. The abduction,
detention, torture, and escape of the respondents were narrated by respondent
Raymond Manalo in a clear and convincing manner. His account is dotted with
countless candid details of respondents harrowing experience and tenacious will
to escape, captured through his different senses and etched in his memory. A few
examples are the following: Sumilip ako sa isang haligi ng kamalig at nakita kong
sinisilaban si Manuel.[96] (N)ilakasan ng mga sundalo ang tunog na galing sa
istiryo ng sasakyan. Di nagtagal, narinig ko ang hiyaw o ungol ni
Manuel.[97] May naiwang mga bakas ng dugo habang hinihila nila ang mga
bangkay. Naamoy ko iyon nang nililinis ang bakas.[98] Tumigil ako sa may
palaisdaan kung saan ginamit ko ang bato para tanggalin ang mga
kadena.[99] Tinanong ko sa isang kapit-bahay kung paano ako makakakuha ng
cell phone; sabi ko gusto kong i-text ang isang babae na nakatira sa malapit na
lugar.[100]
We affirm the factual findings of the appellate court, largely based on
respondent Raymond Manalos affidavit and testimony, viz:
the abduction was perpetrated by armed men who were sufficiently
identified by the petitioners (herein respondents) to be military personnel
and CAFGU auxiliaries. Raymond recalled that the six armed men who
barged into his house through the rear door were military men based on
their attire of fatigue pants and army boots, and the CAFGU auxiliaries,
namely: Michael de la Cruz, Madning de la Cruz, Puti de la Cruz and
Pula de la Cruz, all members of the CAFGU and residents of Muzon, San
Ildefonso, Bulacan, and the brothers Randy Mendoza and Rudy Mendoza,
also CAFGU members, served as lookouts during the
abduction. Raymond was sure that three of the six military men were
Ganata, who headed the abducting team, Hilario, who drove the van, and
George. Subsequent incidents of their long captivity, as narrated by the

petitioners, validated their assertion of the participation of the elements of


the 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, and their CAFGU auxiliaries.
We are convinced, too, that the reason for the abduction was the
suspicion that the petitioners were either members or sympathizers of the
NPA, considering that the abductors were looking for Ka Bestre, who
turned out to be Rolando, the brother of petitioners.
The efforts exerted by the Military Command to look into the
abduction were, at best, merely superficial. The investigation of the
Provost Marshall of the 7th Infantry Division focused on the one-sided
version of the CAFGU auxiliaries involved. This one-sidedness might be
due to the fact that the Provost Marshall could delve only into the
participation of military personnel, but even then the Provost Marshall
should have refrained from outrightly exculpating the CAFGU auxiliaries
he perfunctorily investigated
Gen. Palparans participation in the abduction was also
established. At the very least, he was aware of the petitioners captivity
at the hands of men in uniform assigned to his command. In fact, he or
any other officer tendered no controversion to the firm claim of Raymond
that he (Gen. Palparan) met them in person in a safehouse in Bulacan and
told them what he wanted them and their parents to do or not to be
doing. Gen. Palparans direct and personal role in the abduction might
not have been shown but his knowledge of the dire situation of the
petitioners during their long captivity at the hands of military personnel
under his command bespoke of his indubitable command policy that
unavoidably encouraged and not merely tolerated the abduction of
civilians without due process of law and without probable cause.
In the habeas proceedings, the Court, through the Former Special
Sixth Division (Justices Buzon, chairman; Santiago-Lagman, Sr.,
member; and Romilla-Lontok, Jr., member/ponente.) found no clear and
convincing evidence to establish that M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario had anything to
do with the abduction or the detention. Hilarios involvement could not,
indeed, be then established after Evangeline Francisco, who allegedly saw
Hilario drive the van in which the petitioners were boarded and ferried
following the abduction, did not testify. (See the decision of the habeas
proceedings at rollo, p. 52)
However, in this case, Raymond attested that Hilario drove the
white L-300 van in which the petitioners were brought away from their

houses on February 14, 2006. Raymond also attested that Hilario


participated in subsequent incidents during the captivity of the petitioners,
one of which was when Hilario fetched them from Fort Magsaysay on
board a Revo and conveyed them to a detachment in Pinaud, San
Ildefonso, Bulacan where they were detained for at least a week in a
house of strong materials (Exhibit D, rollo, p. 205) and then Hilario
(along with Efren) brought them to Sapang, San Miguel, Bulacan on
board the Revo, to an unfinished house inside the compound
of Kapitan where they were kept for more or less three months. (Exhibit
D, rollo, p. 205) It was there where the petitioners came face to face with
Gen. Palparan. Hilario and Efren also brought the petitioners one early
morning to the house of the petitioners parents, where only Raymond
was presented to the parents to relay the message from Gen. Palparan not
to join anymore rallies. On that occasion, Hilario warned the parents that
they would not again see their sons should they join any rallies to
denounce human rights violations. (Exhibit D, rollo, pp. 205206) Hilario was also among four Master Sergeants (the others being
Arman, Ganata and Cabalse) with whom Gen. Palparan conversed on the
occasion when Gen. Palparan required Raymond to take the medicines for
his health. (Exhibit D, rollo, p. 206) There were other occasions when
the petitioners saw that Hilario had a direct hand in their torture.
It is clear, therefore, that the participation of Hilario in the
abduction and forced disappearance of the petitioners was
established. The participation of other military personnel like Arman,
Ganata, Cabalse and Caigas, among others, was similarly established.
xxx

xxx

xxx

As to the CAFGU auxiliaries, the habeas Court found them


personally involved in the abduction. We also do, for, indeed, the
evidence of their participation is overwhelming.[101]
We reject the claim of petitioners that respondent Raymond Manalos
statements were not corroborated by other independent and credible pieces of
evidence.[102] Raymonds affidavit and testimony were corroborated by the
affidavit of respondent Reynaldo Manalo. The testimony and medical reports
prepared by forensic specialist Dr. Molino, and the pictures of the scars left by the
physical injuries inflicted on respondents,[103] also corroborate respondents
accounts of the torture they endured while in detention. Respondent Raymond
Manalos familiarity with the facilities in Fort Magsaysay such as the DTU, as
shown in his testimony and confirmed by Lt. Col. Jimenez to be the Division

Training Unit,[104] firms up respondents story that they were detained for some
time in said military facility.
In Ortiz v. Guatemala,[105] a case decided by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, the Commission considered similar evidence,
among others, in finding that complainant Sister Diana Ortiz was abducted and
tortured by agents of the Guatemalan government. In this case, Sister Ortiz was
kidnapped and tortured in early November 1989. The Commissions findings of
fact were mostly based on the consistent and credible statements, written and oral,
made by Sister Ortiz regarding her ordeal.[106] These statements were supported by
her recognition of portions of the route they took when she was being driven out of
the military installation where she was detained.[107] She was also examined by a
medical doctor whose findings showed that the 111 circular second degree burns
on her back and abrasions on her cheek coincided with her account of cigarette
burning and torture she suffered while in detention.[108]
With the secret nature of an enforced disappearance and the torture
perpetrated on the victim during detention, it logically holds that much of the
information and evidence of the ordeal will come from the victims themselves, and
the veracity of their account will depend on their credibility and candidness in their
written and/or oral statements. Their statements can be corroborated by other
evidence such as physical evidence left by the torture they suffered or landmarks
they can identify in the places where they were detained. Where powerful military
officers are implicated, the hesitation of witnesses to surface and testify against
them comes as no surprise.
We now come to the right of the respondents to the privilege of the writ
of amparo. There is no quarrel that the enforced disappearance of both
respondents Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo has now passed as they have escaped
from captivity and surfaced. But while respondents admit that they are no longer
in detention and are physically free, they assert that they are not free in every
sense of the word[109] as their movements continue to be restricted for fear that
people they have named in their Judicial Affidavits and testified against (in the
case of Raymond) are still at large and have not been held accountable in any
way. These people are directly connected to the Armed Forces of
the Philippines and are, thus, in a position to threaten respondents rights to life,
liberty and security.[110] (emphasis supplied) Respondents claim that they are
underthreat of being once again abducted, kept captive or even killed, which
constitute a direct violation of their right to security of person.[111]

Elaborating on the right to security, in general, respondents point out


that this right is often associated with liberty; it is also seen as an expansion of
rights based on the prohibition against torture and cruel and unusual
punishment. Conceding that there is no right to security expressly mentioned in
Article III of the 1987 Constitution, they submit that their rights to be kept free
from torture and from incommunicadodetention and solitary detention
places[112] fall under the general coverage of the right to security of person under
the writ of Amparo. They submit that the Court ought to give an expansive
recognition of the right to security of person in view of the State Policy under
Article II of the 1987 Constitution which enunciates that, The State values the
dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human
rights. Finally, to justify a liberal interpretation of the right to security of person,
respondents cite the teaching in Moncupa v. Enrile[113] that the right to liberty
may be made more meaningful only if there is no undue restraint by the State on
the exercise of that liberty[114] such as a requirement to report under
unreasonable restrictions that amounted to a deprivation of liberty[115] or being put
under monitoring and surveillance.[116]
In sum, respondents assert that their cause of action consists in the threat to
their right to life and liberty, and a violation of their right to security.
Let us put this right to security under the lens to determine if it has
indeed been violated as respondents assert. The right to security or the right
to security of person finds a textual hook in Article III, Section 2 of the 1987
Constitution which provides, viz:
Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of
whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search
warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be
determined personally by the judge

At the core of this guarantee is the immunity of ones person, including the
extensions of his/her person houses, papers, and effects against government
intrusion. Section 2 not only limits the states power over a persons home and
possessions, but more importantly, protects the privacy and sanctity of the person
himself.[117] The purpose of this provision was enunciated by the Court in People
v. CFI of Rizal, Branch IX, Quezon City, viz: [118]
The purpose of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches
and seizures is to prevent violations of private security in person and

property and unlawful invasion of the security of the home by officers of


the law acting under legislative or judicial sanction and to give remedy
against such usurpation when attempted. (Adams v. New York,
192 U.S. 858; Alvero v. Dizon, 76 Phil. 637 [1946]). The right to privacy
is an essential condition to the dignity and happiness and to the peace
and security of every individual, whether it be of home or of persons
and correspondence. (Taada and Carreon, Political Law of the
Philippines, Vol. 2, 139 [1962]). The constitutional inviolability of this
great fundamental right against unreasonable searches and seizures must
be deemed absolute as nothing is closer to a mans soul than the
serenity of his privacy and the assurance of his personal
security. Any interference allowable can only be for the best causes and
reasons.[119] (emphases supplied)

While the right to life under Article III, Section 1[120] guarantees essentially
the right to be alive[121] - upon which the enjoyment of all other rights is
preconditioned - the right to security of person is a guarantee of the secure quality
of this life, viz: The life to which each person has a right is not a life lived in fear
that his person and property may be unreasonably violated by a powerful
ruler. Rather, it is a life lived with the assurance that the government he
established and consented to, will protect the security of his person and property.
The ideal of security in life and property pervades the whole history of man. It
touches every aspect of mans existence.[122] In a broad sense, the right to
security of person emanates in a persons legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of
his life, his limbs, his body, his health, and his reputation. It includes the right to
exist, and the right to enjoyment of life while existing, and it is invaded not only
by a deprivation of life but also of those things which are necessary to the
enjoyment of life according to the nature, temperament, and lawful desires of the
individual.[123]
A closer look at the right to security of person would yield various
permutations of the exercise of this right.
First, the right to security of person is freedom from fear. In its
whereas clauses, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
enunciates that a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and
belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest
aspiration of the common people. (emphasis supplied) Some scholars postulate
that freedom from fear is not only an aspirational principle, but essentially an
individual international human right.[124] It is the right to security of person as

the word security itself means freedom from fear.[125] Article 3 of the UDHR
provides,viz:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.[126] (emphasis supplied)

In furtherance of this right declared in the UDHR, Article 9(1) of


the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also provides
for the right to security of person, viz:
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be
subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty
except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established
by law. (emphasis supplied)

The Philippines is a signatory to both the UDHR and the ICCPR.


In the context of Section 1 of the Amparo Rule, freedom from fear is the
right and any threat to the rights to life, liberty or security is the actionable
wrong. Fear is a state of mind, a reaction; threat is a stimulus, a cause of
action. Fear caused by the same stimulus can range from being baseless to wellfounded as people react differently. The degree of fear can vary from one person to
another with the variation of the prolificacy of their imagination, strength of
character or past experience with the stimulus. Thus, in the amparo context, it is
more correct to say that the right to security is actually the freedom from
threat. Viewed in this light, the threatened with violation Clause in the latter
part of Section 1 of the Amparo Rule is a form of violation of the right to security
mentioned in the earlier part of the provision.[127]
Second, the right to security of person is a guarantee of bodily and
psychological integrity or security. Article III, Section II of the 1987 Constitution
guarantees that, as a general rule, ones body cannot be searched or invaded without
a search warrant.[128] Physical injuries inflicted in the context of extralegal killings
and enforced disappearances constitute more than a search or invasion of the
body. It may constitute dismemberment, physical disabilities, and painful physical
intrusion. As the degree of physical injury increases, the danger to life itself
escalates. Notably, in criminal law, physical injuries constitute a crime against
persons because they are an affront to the bodily integrity or security of a
person.[129]
Physical torture, force, and violence are a severe invasion of bodily
integrity. When employed to vitiate the free will such as to force the victim to
admit, reveal or fabricate incriminating information, it constitutes an invasion of

both bodily and psychological integrity as the dignity of the human person
includes the exercise of free will. Article III, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution
more specifically proscribes bodily and psychological invasion, viz:
(2) No torture, force, violence, threat or intimidation, or any other
means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him (any person
under investigation for the commission of an offense). Secret detention
places, solitary,incommunicado or other similar forms of detention are
prohibited.

Parenthetically, under this provision, threat and intimidation that vitiate the free will
- although not involving invasion of bodily integrity - nevertheless constitute a
violation of the right to security in the sense of freedom from threat as aforediscussed.
Article III, Section 12 guarantees freedom from dehumanizing abuses of
persons under investigation for the commission of an offense. Victims of enforced
disappearances who are not even under such investigation should all the more be
protected from these degradations.
An overture to an interpretation of the right to security of person as a right
against torture was made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the
recent case of Popov v. Russia.[130] In this case, the claimant, who was lawfully
detained, alleged that the state authorities had physically abused him in prison,
thereby violating his right to security of person. Article 5(1) of the European
Convention on Human Rights provides, viz: Everyone has the right to liberty
and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the
following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law ...
(emphases supplied) Article 3, on the other hand, provides that (n)o one shall be
subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment. Although the application failed on the facts as the alleged illtreatment was found baseless, the ECHR relied heavily on the concept of security
in holding, viz:
...the applicant did not bring his allegations to the attention of
domestic authorities at the time when they could reasonably have been
expected to take measures in order to ensure his security and to
investigate the circumstances in question.
xxx

xxx

xxx

... the authorities failed to ensure his security in custody or to comply


with the procedural obligation under Art.3 to conduct an effective
investigation into his allegations.[131] (emphasis supplied)

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women


has also made a statement that the protection of the bodily integrity of women may
also be related to the right to security and liberty, viz:
gender-based violence which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by
women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general
international law or under specific human rights conventions is
discrimination within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention (on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). These
rights and freedoms include . . . the right to liberty and security of
person.[132]

Third, the right to security of person is a guarantee of protection of


ones rights by the government. In the context of the writ of amparo, this right
is built into the guarantees of the right to life and liberty under Article III,
Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution and the right to security of person (as
freedom from threat and guarantee of bodily and psychological integrity) under
Article III, Section 2. The right to security of person in this third sense is a
corollary of the policy that the State guarantees full respect for human rights
under Article II, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution.[133] As the government is the
chief guarantor of order and security, the Constitutional guarantee of the rights to
life, liberty and security of person is rendered ineffective if government does not
afford protection to these rights especially when they are under threat. Protection
includes conducting effective investigations, organization of the government
apparatus to extend protection to victims of extralegal killings or enforced
disappearances (or threats thereof) and/or their families, and bringing offenders to
the bar of justice. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights stressed the
importance of investigation in the Velasquez Rodriguez Case,[134] viz:
(The duty to investigate) must be undertaken in a serious
manner and not as a mere formality preordained to be
ineffective. An investigation must have an objective and be assumed by
the State as its own legal duty, not as a step taken by private
interests that depends upon the initiative of the victim or his
family or upon their offer of proof, without an effective search for the
truth by the government.[135]

This third sense of the right to security of person as a guarantee of


government protection has been interpreted by the United Nations Human Rights
Committee[136] in not a few cases involving Article 9[137] of the ICCPR. While the
right to security of person appears in conjunction with the right to liberty under
Article 9, the Committee has ruled that the right to security of person can exist
independently of the right to liberty. In other words, there need not necessarily
be a deprivation of liberty for the right to security of person to be
invoked. In Delgado Paez v. Colombia,[138] a case involving death threats to a
religion teacher at a secondary school in Leticia, Colombia, whose social views
differed from those of the Apostolic Prefect of Leticia, the Committee held, viz:
The first sentence of article 9 does not stand as a separate paragraph. Its
location as a part of paragraph one could lead to the view that the right to security
arises only in the context of arrest and detention. The travaux
prparatoiresindicate that the discussions of the first sentence did indeed focus on
matters dealt with in the other provisions of article 9. The Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, in article 3, refers to the right to life, the right to liberty
and the right to security of the person. These elements have been dealt with
in separate clauses in the Covenant. Although in the Covenant the only
reference to the right of security of person is to be found in article 9, there is
no evidence that it was intended to narrow the concept of the right to security
only to situations of formal deprivation of liberty. At the same time, States
parties have undertaken to guarantee the rights enshrined in the
Covenant. It cannot be the case that, as a matter of law, States can ignore
known threats to the life of persons under their jurisdiction, just because that
he or she is not arrested or otherwise detained. States parties are under an
obligation to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect them. An
interpretation of article 9 which would allow a State party to ignore threats
to the personal security of non-detained persons within its jurisdiction would
render totally ineffective the guarantees of the Covenant.[139] (emphasis
supplied)

The Paez ruling was reiterated in Bwalya v. Zambia,[140] which involved a


political activist and prisoner of conscience who continued to be intimidated,
harassed, and restricted in his movements following his release from detention. In
a catena of cases, the ruling of the Committee was of a similar
import: Bahamonde v. Equatorial Guinea,[141] involving discrimination,
intimidation and persecution of opponents of the ruling party in that
state; Tshishimbi v. Zaire,[142] involving the abduction of the complainants
husband who was a supporter of democratic reform in Zaire; Dias v.
Angola,[143] involving the murder of thecomplainants partner and the harassment
he (complainant) suffered because of his investigation of the murder;

and Chongwe v. Zambia,[144] involving an assassination attempt on the chairman


of an opposition alliance.
Similarly, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has interpreted the
right to security not only as prohibiting the State from arbitrarily depriving
liberty, but imposing a positive duty on the State to afford protection of the right to
liberty.[145] The ECHR interpreted the right to security of person under Article
5(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights in the leading case on
disappearance of persons, Kurt v.Turkey.[146] In this case, the claimants son had
been arrested by state authorities and had not been seen since. The familys
requests for information and investigation regarding his whereabouts proved
futile. The claimant suggested that this was a violation of her sons right to
security of person. The ECHR ruled, viz:
... any deprivation of liberty must not only have been effected in
conformity with the substantive and procedural rules of national law but
must equally be in keeping with the very purpose of Article 5, namely to
protect the individual from arbitrariness... Having assumed control over
that individual it is incumbent on the authorities to account for his or her
whereabouts. For this reason, Article 5 must be seen as requiring the
authorities to take effective measures to safeguard against the risk of
disappearance and to conduct a prompt effective investigation into
an arguable claim that a person has been taken into custody and has
not been seen since.[147] (emphasis supplied)

Applying the foregoing concept of the right to security of person to the case
at bar, we now determine whether there is a continuing violation of respondents
right to security.
First, the violation of the right to security as freedom from threat to
respondents life, liberty and security.
While respondents were detained, they were threatened that if they escaped,
their families, including them, would be killed. In Raymonds narration, he was
tortured and poured with gasoline after he was caught the first time he attempted to
escape from Fort Magsaysay. A call from a certain Mam, who wanted to see
him before he was killed, spared him.
This time, respondents have finally escaped. The condition of the threat to
be killed has come to pass. It should be stressed that they are now free from
captivity not because they were released by virtue of a lawful order or voluntarily

freed by their abductors. It ought to be recalled that towards the end of their
ordeal, sometime in June 2007 when respondents were detained in a camp in
Limay, Bataan, respondents captors even told them that they were still deciding
whether they should be executed. Respondent Raymond Manalo attested in his
affidavit, viz:
Kinaumagahan, naka-kadena pa kami. Tinanggal ang mga kadena mga 3
o 4 na araw pagkalipas. Sinabi sa amin na kaya kami nakakadena ay
dahil pinagdedesisyunan pa ng mga sundalo kung papatayin kami o
hindi.[148]

The possibility of respondents being executed stared them in the eye while
they were in detention. With their escape, this continuing threat to their life is
apparent, moreso now that they have surfaced and implicated specific officers in
the military not only in their own abduction and torture, but also in those of other
persons known to have disappeared such as Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeo, and
Manuel Merino, among others.
Understandably, since their escape, respondents have been under
concealment and protection by private citizens because of the threat to their life,
liberty and security. The threat vitiates their free will as they are forced to limit
their movements or activities.[149] Precisely because respondents are being
shielded from the perpetrators of their abduction, they cannot be expected to show
evidence of overt acts of threat such as face-to-face intimidation or written threats
to their life, liberty and security. Nonetheless, the circumstances of respondents
abduction, detention, torture and escape reasonably support a conclusion that there
is an apparent threat that they will again be abducted, tortured, and this time, even
executed. These constitute threats to their liberty, security, and life, actionable
through a petition for a writ of amparo.
Next, the violation of the right to security as protection by the
government. Apart from the failure of military elements to provide protection to
respondents by themselves perpetrating the abduction, detention, and torture, they
also miserably failed in conducting an effective investigation of respondents
abduction as revealed by the testimony and investigation report of petitioners own
witness, Lt. Col. Ruben Jimenez, Provost Marshall of the 7th Infantry Division.
The one-day investigation conducted by Jimenez was very limited,
superficial, and one-sided. He merely relied on the Sworn Statements of the six
implicated members of the CAFGU and civilians whom he met in the investigation
for the first time. He was present at the investigation when his subordinate Lingad

was taking the sworn statements, but he did not propound a single question to
ascertain the veracity of their statements or their credibility. He did not call for
other witnesses to test the alibis given by the six implicated persons nor for the
family or neighbors of the respondents.
In his affidavit, petitioner Secretary of National Defense attested that in a
Memorandum Directive dated October 31, 2007, he issued a policy directive
addressed to the AFP Chief of Staff, that the AFP should adopt rules of action in
the event the writ of amparo is issued by a competent court against any members
of the AFP, which should essentially include verification of the identity of the
aggrieved party; recovery and preservation of relevant evidence; identification of
witnesses and securing statements from them; determination of the cause, manner,
location and time of death or disappearance; identification and apprehension of the
person or persons involved in the death or disappearance; and bringing of the
suspected offenders before a competent court.[150] Petitioner AFP Chief of Staff
also submitted his own affidavit attesting that he received the above directive of
respondent Secretary of National Defense and that acting on this directive, he
immediately caused to be issued a directive to the units of the AFP for the purpose
of establishing the circumstances of the alleged disappearance and the recent
reappearance of the respondents, and undertook to provide results of the
investigations to respondents.[151] To this day, however, almost a year after the
policy directive was issued by petitioner Secretary of National Defense on October
31, 2007, respondents have not been furnished the results of the investigation
which they now seek through the instant petition for a writ of amparo.
Under these circumstances, there is substantial evidence to warrant the
conclusion that there is a violation of respondents right to security as a guarantee
of protection by the government.
In sum, we conclude that respondents right to security as freedom from
threat is violated by the apparent threat to their life, liberty and security of
person. Their right to security as a guarantee of protection by the government is
likewise violated by the ineffective investigation and protection on the part of the
military.
Finally, we come to the reliefs granted by the Court of Appeals, which
petitioners question.
First, that petitioners furnish respondents all official and unofficial reports
of the investigation undertaken in connection with their case, except those already
in file with the court.

Second, that petitioners confirm in writing the present places of official


assignment of M/Sgt. Hilario aka Rollie Castillo and Donald Caigas.
Third, that petitioners cause to be produced to the Court of Appeals
all medical reports, records and charts, and reports of any treatment given or
recommended and medicines prescribed, if any, to the Manalo brothers, to
include a list of medical personnel (military and civilian) who attended to
them from February 14, 2006 until August 12, 2007.
With respect to the first and second reliefs, petitioners argue that the
production order sought by respondents partakes of the characteristics of a search
warrant. Thus, they claim that the requisites for the issuance of a search warrant
must be complied with prior to the grant of the production order, namely: (1) the
application must be under oath or affirmation; (2) the search warrant must
particularly describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized; (3) there
exists probable cause with one specific offense; and (4) the probable cause must be
personally determined by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of
the complainant and the witnesses he may produce.[152] In the case at bar, however,
petitioners point out that other than the bare, self-serving and vague allegations
made by respondent Raymond Manalo in his unverified declaration and affidavit,
the documents respondents seek to be produced are only mentioned generally by
name, with no other supporting details. They also argue that the relevancy of the
documents to be produced must be apparent, but this is not true in the present case
as the involvement of petitioners in the abduction has not been shown.
Petitioners arguments do not hold water. The production order under
the Amparo Rule should not be confused with a search warrant for law
enforcement under Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. This
Constitutional provision is a protection of the people from the unreasonable
intrusion of the government, not a protection of the government from the demand
of the people such as respondents.
Instead, the amparo production order may be likened to the production of
documents or things under Section 1, Rule 27 of the Rules of Civil Procedure
which provides in relevant part, viz:
Section 1. Motion for production or inspection order.
Upon motion of any party showing good cause therefor, the court
in which an action is pending may (a) order any party to produce and
permit the inspection and copying or photographing, by or on behalf of

the moving party, of any designated documents, papers, books of


accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, not privileged,
which constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in
the action and which are in his possession, custody or control

In Material Distributors (Phil.) Inc. v. Judge Natividad,[153] the


respondent judge, under authority of Rule 27, issued a subpoena duces tecum for
the production and inspection of among others, the books and papers of Material
Distributors (Phil.) Inc. The company questioned the issuance of the subpoena on
the ground that it violated the search and seizure clause. The Court struck down
the argument and held that thesubpoena pertained to a civil procedure that cannot
be identified or confused with unreasonable searches prohibited by the
Constitution
Moreover, in his affidavit, petitioner AFP Chief of Staff himself undertook
to provide results of the investigations conducted or to be conducted by the
concerned unit relative to the circumstances of the alleged disappearance of the
persons in whose favor the Writ of Amparo has been sought for as soon as the
same has been furnished Higher headquarters.
With respect to the second and third reliefs, petitioners assert that the
disclosure of the present places of assignment of M/Sgt. Hilario aka Rollie Castillo
and Donald Caigas, as well as the submission of a list of medical personnel, is
irrelevant, improper, immaterial, and unnecessary in the resolution of the petition
for a writ of amparo. They add that it will unnecessarily compromise and
jeopardize the exercise of official functions and duties of military officers and even
unwittingly and unnecessarily expose them to threat of personal injury or even
death.
On the contrary, the disclosure of the present places of assignment of M/Sgt.
Hilario aka Rollie Castillo and Donald Caigas, whom respondents both directly
implicated as perpetrators behind their abduction and detention, is relevant in
ensuring the safety of respondents by avoiding their areas of territorial
jurisdiction. Such disclosure would also help ensure that these military officers
can be served with notices and court processes in relation to any investigation and
action for violation of the respondents rights. The list of medical personnel is also
relevant in securing information to create the medical history of respondents and
make appropriate medical interventions, when applicable and necessary.

In blatant violation of our hard-won guarantees to life, liberty and security,


these rights are snuffed out from victims of extralegal killings and enforced
disappearances. The writ of amparo is a tool that gives voice to preys of silent
guns and prisoners behind secret walls.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED. The
Decision of the Court of Appeals dated December 26, 2007 is affirmed.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
GEN. AVELINO I. RAZON,
JR., Chief, Philippine
National Police (PNP); Police
Chief Superintendent RAUL
CASTAEDA, Chief,
Criminal Investigation and
Detection Group (CIDG);
Police Senior Superintendent
LEONARDO A. ESPINA,
Chief, Police Anti-Crime and
Emergency Response
(PACER); and GEN. JOEL
R. GOLTIAO, Regional
Director of ARMM, PNP,
Petitioners,

G.R. No. 182498


Present:

PUNO, C.J.,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,

- versus -

NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,

MARY JEAN B. TAGITIS, herein


represented by ATTY. FELIPE
P. ARCILLA, JR., Attorney-inFact,
Respondent.

PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:

December 3, 2009

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BRION, J.:

We review in this petition for review on certiorari[1] the decision dated


March 7, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in C.A-G.R. AMPARO No. 00009.[2] This
CA decision confirmed the enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis
(Tagitis) and granted the Writ of Amparo at the petition of his wife, Mary Jean B.
Tagitis (respondent). The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE,
premises
considered,
petition
is
hereby GRANTED. The Court hereby FINDS that this is an enforced
disappearance within the meaning of the United Nations instruments,

as used in the Amparo Rules. Theprivileges of the writ of amparo are


hereby extended to Engr. Morced Tagitis.

Consequently: (1) respondent GEN. EDGARDO M. DOROMAL,


Chief, Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) who should
order COL. JOSE VOLPANE PANTE, CIDG-9 Chief, Zamboanga City, to aid
him; (2) respondent GEN. AVELINO I. RAZON, Chief, PNP, who should
order his men, namely: (a) respondent GEN. JOEL GOLTIAO, Regional
Director of ARMM PNP, (b) COL. AHIRON AJIRIM, both head of TASK
FORCE TAGITIS, and (c) respondent SR. SUPERINTENDENT LEONARDO
A. ESPINA, Chief, Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response, to aid
him as their superior- are hereby DIRECTED to exert extraordinary
diligence and efforts, not only to protect the life, liberty and security of
Engr. Morced Tagitis, but also to extend the privileges of the writ
of amparo to Engr. Morced Tagitis and his family, and to submit a
monthly report of their actions to this Court, as a way of PERIODIC
REVIEW to enable this Court to monitor the action of respondents.

This amparo case is hereby DISMISSED as to respondent LT. GEN.


ALEXANDER YANO, Commanding General, Philippine Army, and as to
respondent GEN. RUBEN RAFAEL, Chief Anti-Terror Task Force Comet,
Zamboanga City, both being with the military, which is a separate and
distinct organization from the police and the CIDG, in terms of
operations, chain of command and budget.

This Decision reflects the nature of the Writ of Amparo a protective


remedy against violations or threats of violation against the rights to life,
liberty and security.[3] It embodies, as a remedy, the courts directive to police
agencies to undertake specified courses of action to address the disappearance
of an individual, in this case, Engr. Morced N. Tagitis. It does not determine
guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the disappearance; rather, it
determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced

disappearance for purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address


the disappearance. Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been
established by substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way, by
action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a measure of the
remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the
appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in the
proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of
remedies that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the
enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity to the
level of responsibility defined above; or who are imputed with knowledge
relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of
disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of
extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. In
all these cases, the issuance of the Writ of Amparo is justified by our primary
goal of addressing the disappearance, so that the life of the victim is preserved
and his liberty and security are restored.
We highlight this nature of a Writ of Amparo case at the outset to stress
that the unique situations that call for the issuance of the writ, as well as the
considerations and measures necessary to address these situations, may not at
all be the same as the standard measures and procedures in ordinary court
actions and proceedings. In this sense, the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo[4] (Amparo Rule) issued by this Court is unique. The AmparoRule
should be read, too, as a work in progress, as its directions and finer points
remain to evolve through time and jurisprudence and through the substantive
laws that Congress may promulgate.
THE FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS
The background facts, based on the petition and the records of the case,
are summarized below.
The established facts show that Tagitis, a consultant for the World Bank
and the Senior Honorary Counselor for the Islamic Development Bank (IDB)
Scholarship Programme, was last seen in Jolo, Sulu. Together with Arsimin
Kunnong (Kunnong), an IDB scholar, Tagitis arrived in Jolo by boat in the early
morning of October 31, 2007 from a seminar in Zamboanga City. They

immediately checked-in at ASY Pension House. Tagitis asked Kunnong to buy


him a boat ticket for his return trip the following day to Zamboanga. When
Kunnong returned from this errand, Tagitis was no longer around.[5] The
receptionist related that Tagitis went out to buy food at around 12:30 in the
afternoon and even left his room key with the desk.[6] Kunnong looked for
Tagitis and even sent a text message to the latters Manila-based secretary
who did not know of Tagitis whereabouts and activities either; she advised
Kunnong to simply wait.[7]
On November 4, 2007, Kunnong and Muhammad Abdulnazeir N. Matli, a
UP professor of Muslim studies and Tagitis fellow student counselor at the
IDB, reported Tagitis disappearance to the Jolo Police Station.[8] On November
7, 2007, Kunnong executed a sworn affidavit attesting to what he knew of the
circumstances surrounding Tagitis disappearance.[9]
More than a month later (on December 28, 2007), the respondent filed a
Petition for the Writ of Amparo (petition) with the CA through her Attorney-inFact, Atty. Felipe P. Arcilla.[10] The petition was directed against Lt. Gen.
Alexander Yano, Commanding General, Philippine Army; Gen. Avelino I. Razon,
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP); Gen. Edgardo M. Doromal, Chief,
Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG); Sr. Supt. Leonardo A.
Espina, Chief, Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response; Gen. Joel Goltiao,
Regional Director, ARMM-PNP; and Gen. Ruben Rafael, Chief, Anti-Terror Task
Force Comet [collectively referred to as petitioners+. After reciting Tagitis
personal circumstances and the facts outlined above, the petition went on to
state:
xxxx

7.

Soon after the student left the room, Engr. Tagitis went out of the pension house to take his early lunch but while

out on the street, a couple of burly men believed to be police intelligence operatives, forcibly took him and boarded
the latter on a motor vehicle then sped away without the knowledge of his student, Arsimin Kunnong;
8.

As instructed, in the late afternoon of the same day, Kunnong returned to the pension house, and was surprised to find
out that subject Engr. Tagitis cannot [sic] be contacted by phone and was not also around and his room was closed and
locked;

9.

Kunnong requested for the key from the desk of the pension house who [sic] assisted him to open the room of Engr.
Tagitis, where they discovered that the personal belongings of Engr. Tagitis, including cell phones, documents and other
personal belongings were all intact inside the room;

10.

When Kunnong could not locate Engr. Tagitis, the former sought the help of another IDB scholar and reported the
matter to the local police agency;

11.

Arsimin Kunnong including his friends and companions in Jolo, exerted efforts in trying to locate the whereabouts of
Engr. Tagitis and when he reported the matter to the police authorities in Jolo, he was immediately given a ready answer
that Engr. Tagitis could have been abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group and other groups known to be fighting against the
government;

12.

Being scared with [sic] these suggestions and insinuations of the police officers, Kunnong reported the matter to the
[respondent, wife of Engr. Tagitis] by phone and other responsible officers and coordinators of the IDB Scholarship
Programme in the Philippines, who alerted the office of the Governor of ARMM who was then preparing to attend the
OIC meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;

13.

[Respondent], on the other hand, approached some of her co-employees with the Land Bank in Digos branch, Digos
City, Davao del Sur who likewise sought help from some of their friends in the military who could help them find/locate
the whereabouts of her husband;

14.

All of these efforts of the [respondent] did not produce any positive results except the information from persons in the
military who do not want to be identified that Engr. Tagitis is in the hands of the uniformed men;

15. According to reliable information received by the [respondent], subject Engr. Tagitis is in the custody of police
intelligence operatives, specifically with the CIDG, PNP Zamboanga City, being held against his will in an earnest
attempt of the police to involve and connect Engr. Tagitis with the different terrorist groups;
xxxx
17.

[Respondent] filed her complaint with the PNP Police Station in the ARMM in Cotobato and in Jolo, as suggested by her
friends, seeking their help to find her husband, but *respondents+ request and pleadings failed to produce any positive
results;

18.

Instead of helping the [respondent], she [sic] was told of an intriguing tale by the police that her husband, subject of
the petition, was not missing but was with another woman having good time somewhere, which is a clear indication of
the *petitioners+ refusal to help and provide police assistance in locating her missing husband;

19.

The continued failure and refusal of the [petitioners] to release and/or turn-over subject Engr. Tagitis to his family or
even to provide truthful information to [the respondent] of the subjects whereabouts, and/or allow *the respondent+ to
visit her husband Engr. Morced Tagitis, caused so much sleepless nights and serious anxieties;

20.

Lately, [the respondent] was again advised by one of the [petitioners] to go to the ARMM Police Headquarters again in
Cotobato City and also to the different Police Headquarters including [those] in Davao City, in Zamboanga City, in Jolo,
and in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and all these places have been visited by the [respondent] in search for her husband,
which entailed expenses for her trips to these places thereby resorting her to borrowings and beggings [sic] for financial
help from friends and relatives only to try complying [sic] to the different suggestions of these police officers, despite of
which, her efforts produced no positive results up to the present time;

21.

In fact at times, some police officers, who [sympathized with] the sufferings undergone by the [respondent], informed
her that they are not the proper persons that she should approach, but assured her not to worry because her husband is
[sic] in good hands;

22.

The unexplained uncooperative behavior of the *petitioners+ to the *respondents+ request for help and failure and
refusal of the [petitioners] to extend the needed help, support and assistance in locating the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis
who had been declared missing since October 30, 2007 which is almost two (2) months now, clearly indicates that the
[petitioners] are actually in physical possession and custody of [respondents+ husband, Engr. Tagitis;
xxxx

25.
[The respondent] has exhausted all administrative avenues and remedies but to no avail, and under the
circumstances, [the respondent] has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to protect and get the release of
subject Engr. Morced Tagitis from the illegal clutches of the [petitioners], their intelligence operatives and the like which
are in total violation of the subjects human and constitutional rights, except the issuance of a WRIT OF AMPARO.
[Emphasis supplied]

On the same day the petition was filed, the CA immediately issued the
Writ of Amparo, set the case for hearing on January 7, 2008, and directed the
petitioners to file their verified return within seventy-two (72) hours from
service of the writ.[11]
In their verified Return filed during the hearing of January 27, 2008, the
petitioners denied any involvement in or knowledge of Tagitis alleged
abduction. They argued that the allegations of the petition were incomplete
and did not constitute a cause of action against them; were baseless, or at best
speculative; and were merely based on hearsay evidence. [12]
The affidavit of PNP Chief Gen. Avelino I. Razon, attached to the Return,
stated that: he did not have any personal knowledge of, or any participation in,
the alleged disappearance; that he had been designated by President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo as the head of a special body called TASK FORCE USIG, to
address concerns about extralegal killings and enforced disappearances; the
Task Force, inter alia, coordinated with the investigators and local police, held
case conferences, rendered legal advice in connection to these cases; and gave
the following summary:[13]
xxxx
4.
a)
On November 5, 2007, the Regional Director, Police Regional Office ARMM submitted a report on
the alleged disappearance of one Engr. Morced Tagitis. According to the said report, the victim checked-in at ASY
Pension House on October 30, 2007 at about 6:00 in the morning and then roamed around Jolo, Sulu with an unidentified
companion. It was only after a few days when the said victim did not return that the matter was reported to Jolo
MPS. Afterwards, elements of Sulu PPO conducted a thorough investigation to trace and locate the whereabouts of the
said missing person, but to no avail. The said PPO is still conducting investigation that will lead to the immediate findings
of the whereabouts of the person.
b)
Likewise, the Regional Chief, 9RCIDU submitted a Progress Report to the Director, CIDG. The said
report stated among others that: subject person attended an Education Development Seminar set on October 28, 2007
conducted at Ateneo de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City together with a Prof. Matli. On October 30, 2007, at around 5:00
oclock in the morning, Engr. Tagitis reportedly arrived at Jolo Sulu wharf aboard M/V Bounty Cruise, he was then billeted
at ASY Pension House. At about 6:15 oclock in the morning of the same date, he instructed his student to purchase a fast
craft ticket bound for Zamboanga City and will depart from Jolo, Sulu on October 31, 2007. That on or about 10:00
oclock in the morning, Engr. Tagitis left the premises of ASY Pension House as stated by the cashier of the said pension
house. Later in the afternoon, the student instructed to purchase the ticket arrived at the pension house and waited for

Engr. Tagitis, but the latter did not return. On its part, the elements of 9RCIDU is now conducting a continuous case build
up and information gathering to locate the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis.
c)
That the Director, CIDG directed the conduct of the search in all divisions of the CIDG to find Engr.
Tagitis who was allegedly abducted or illegally detained by covert CIDG-PNP Intelligence Operatives since October 30,
2007, but after diligent and thorough search, records show that no such person is being detained in CIDG or any of its
department or divisions.
5.
On this particular case, the Philippine National Police exhausted all possible efforts, steps and actions available
under the circumstances and continuously search and investigate [sic] the instant case. This immense mandate,
however, necessitates the indispensable role of the citizenry, as the PNP cannot stand alone without the cooperation of
the victims and witnesses to identify the perpetrators to bring them before the bar of justice and secure their conviction
in court.

The petitioner PNP-CIDG Chief, Gen. Edgardo M. Doromal, submitted as


well his affidavit, also attached to the Return of the Writ, attesting that upon
receipt of the Writ of Amparo, he caused the following:[14]
xxxx
That immediately upon receipt on December 29, 2007 of the Resolution of the Honorable Special Fourth Division
of the Court of Appeals, I immediately directed the Investigation Division of this Group [CIDG] to conduct urgent
investigation on the alleged enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced Tagitis.
That based on record, Engr. Morced N. Tagitis attended an Education Development Seminar on October 28, 2007
at Ateneo de Zamboanga at Zamboanga City together with Prof. Abdulnasser Matli. On October 30, 2007, at around six
oclock in the morning he arrived at Jolo, Sulu. He was assisted by his student identified as Arsimin Kunnong of the
Islamic Development Bank who was also one of the participants of the said seminar. He checked in at ASY pension house
located [sic] Kakuyagan, Patikul, Sulu on October 30, 2007 with [sic] unidentified companion. At around six oclock in the
morning of even date, Engr. Tagitis instructed his student to purchase a fast craft ticket for Zamboanga City. In the
afternoon of the same date, Kunnong arrived at the pension house carrying the ticket he purchased for Engr. Tagitis, but
the latter was nowhere to be found anymore. Kunnong immediately informed Prof. Abdulnasser Matli who reported the
incident to the police. The CIDG is not involved in the disappearance of Engr. Morced Tagitis to make out a case of an
enforced disappearance which presupposes a direct or indirect involvement of the government.
That herein [petitioner] searched all divisions and departments for a person named Engr. Morced N. Tagitis, who
was allegedly abducted or illegally detained by covert CIDG-PNP Intelligence Operatives since October 30, 2007 and after
a diligent and thorough research records show that no such person is being detained in CIDG or any of its department or
divisions.
That nevertheless, in order to determine the circumstances surrounding Engr. Morced Tagitis [sic] alleged enforced
disappearance, the undersigned had undertaken immediate investigation and will pursue investigations up to its full
completion in order to aid in the prosecution of the person or persons responsible therefore.

Likewise attached to the Return of the Writ was PNP-PACER[15] Chief PS


Supt. Leonardo A. Espinas affidavit which alleged that:[16]
xxxx

That, I and our men and women in PACER vehemently deny any participation in the alleged abduction or illegally
[sic] detention of ENGR. MORCED N. TAGITS on October 30, 2007. As a matter of fact, nowhere in the writ was
mentioned that the alleged abduction was perpetrated by elements of PACER nor was there any indication that the
alleged abduction or illegal detention of ENGR. TAGITIS was undertaken jointly by our men and by the alleged covert
CIDG-PNP intelligence operatives alleged to have abducted or illegally detained ENGR. TAGITIS.
That I was shocked when I learned that I was implicated in the alleged disappearance of ENGR. MORCED in my
capacity as the chief PACER [sic] considering that our office, the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER), a
special task force created for the purpose of neutralizing or eradicating kidnap-for-ransom groups which until now
continue to be one of the menace of our society is a respondent in kidnapping or illegal detention case. Simply put, our
task is to go after kidnappers and charge them in court and to abduct or illegally detain or kidnap anyone is anathema to
our mission.
That right after I learned of the receipt of the WRIT OF AMPARO, I directed the Chief of PACER Mindanao Oriental
(PACER-MOR) to conduct pro-active measures to investigate, locate/search the subject, identify and apprehend the
persons responsible, to recover and preserve evidence related to the disappearance of ENGR. MORCED TAGITIS, which
may aid in the prosecution of the person or persons responsible, to identify witnesses and obtain statements from them
concerning the disappearance and to determine the cause, manner, location and time of disappearance as well as any
pattern or practice that may have brought about the disappearance.
That I further directed the chief of PACER-MOR, Police Superintendent JOSE ARNALDO BRIONES JR., to submit a
written report regarding the disappearance of ENGR. MORCED.
That in compliance with my directive, the chief of PACER-MOR sent through fax his written report.
That the investigation and measures being undertaken to locate/search the subject in coordination with Police
Regional Office, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM) and Jolo Police Provincial Office (PPO) and other
AFP and PNP units/agencies in the area are ongoing with the instruction not to leave any stone unturned so to speak in
the investigation until the perpetrators in the instant case are brought to the bar of justice.
That I have exercised EXTRAORDINARY DILIGENCE in dealing with the WRIT OF AMPARO just issued.

Finally, the PNP PRO ARMM Regional Director PC Supt. Joel R. Goltiao
(Gen. Goltiao), also submitted his affidavit detailing the actions that he had
taken upon receipt of the report on Tagitis disappearance, viz:[17]
xxxx
3) For the record:
1.

I am the Regional Director of Police Regional Office ARMM now and during the time of the incident;
xxxx

4.
It is my duty to look into and take appropriate measures on any cases of reported enforced
disappearances and when they are being alluded to my office;
5.
On November 5, 2007, the Provincial Director of Sulu Police Provincial Office reported to me through Radio
Message Cite No. SPNP3-1105-07-2007 that on November 4, 2007 at around 3:30 p.m., a certain Abdulnasser Matli, an
employee of Islamic Development Bank, appeared before the Office of the Chief of Police, Jolo Police Station, and
reported the disappearance of Engr. Morced Tagitis, scholarship coordinator of Islamic Development Bank, Manila;

6.
There was no report that Engr. Tagibis was last seen in the company of or taken by any member of the
Philippine National Police but rather he just disappeared from ASY Pension House situated at Kakuyagan Village, Village,
Patikul, Sulu, on October 30, 2007, without any trace of forcible abduction or arrest;
7.
The last known instance of communication with him was when Arsimin Kunnong, a student scholar, was
requested by him to purchase a vessel ticket at the Office of Weezam Express, however, when the student returned back
to ASY Pension House, he no longer found Engr. Tagitis there and when he immediately inquired at the information
counter regarding his whereabouts [sic], the person in charge in the counter informed him that Engr. Tagitis had left the
premises on October 30, 2007 around 1 oclock p.m. and never returned back to his room;
8.
Immediately after learning the incident, I called and directed the Provincial Director of Sulu Police Provincial
Office and other units through phone call and text messages to conduct investigation [sic] to determine the whereabouts
of the aggrieved party and the person or persons responsible for the threat, act or omission, to recover and preserve
evidence related to the disappearance of Engr. Tagitis, to identify witnesses and obtain statements from them concerning
his disappearance, to determine the cause and manner of his disappearance, to identify and apprehend the person or
persons involved in the disappearance so that they shall be brought before a competent court;
9.
Thereafter, through my Chief of the Regional Investigation and Detection Management Division, I have
caused the following directives:
a)

Radio Message Cite No. RIDMD-1122-07-358 dated November 22, 2007 directing PD Sulu PPO to conduct joint
investigation with CIDG and CIDU ARMM on the matter;

b) Radio Message Cite No. RIDMD-1128-07-361 dated November 28, 2007 directing PD Sulu PPO to expedite
compliance to my previous directive;
c)

Memorandum dated December 14, 2007 addressed to PD Sulu PPO reiterating our series of directives for
investigation and directing him to undertake exhaustive coordination efforts with the owner of ASY Pension
House and student scholars of IDB in order to secure corroborative statements regarding the disappearance
and whereabouts of said personality;

d) Memorandum dated December 24, 2007 addressed to PD Sulu PPO directing him to maximize efforts to
establish clues on the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis by seeking the cooperation of Prof. Abdulnasser Matli and
Arsimin Kunnong and/or whenever necessary, for them to voluntarily submit for polygraph examination with
the NBI so as to expunge all clouds of doubt that they may somehow have knowledge or idea to his
disappearance;
e)

Memorandum dated December 27, 2007 addressed to the Regional Chief, Criminal Investigation and Detection
Group, Police Regional Office 9, Zamboanga City, requesting assistance to investigate the cause and unknown
disappearance of Engr. Tagitis considering that it is within their area of operational jurisdiction;

f)

Memorandum from Chief, Intelligence Division, PRO ARMM dated December 30, 2007 addressed to PD Sulu
PPO requiring them to submit complete investigation report regarding the case of Engr. Tagitis;

10.
In compliance to our directives, PD Sulu PPO has exerted his [sic] efforts to conduct investigation [sic] on
the matter to determine the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis and the circumstances related to his disappearance and
submitted the following:
a)

Progress Report dated November 6, 2007 through Radio Message Cite No. SPNP3-1106-10-2007;

b)

Radio Message Cite No. SPIDMS-1205-47-07 informing this office that they are still monitoring the whereabouts of
Engr. Tagitis;

c)

Investigation Report dated December 31, 2007 from the Chief of Police, Jolo Police Station, Sulu PPO;
11.

This incident was properly reported to the PNP Higher Headquarters as shown in the following:

a)

Memorandum dated November 6, 2007 addressed to the Chief, PNP informing him of the facts of the disappearance
and the action being taken by our office;

b)

Memorandum dated November 6, 2007 addressed to the Director, Directorate for Investigation and Detection
Management, NHQ PNP;

c)

Memorandum dated December 30, 2007 addressed to the Director, DIDM;

4)
In spite of our exhaustive efforts, the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis cannot be determined but our office is
continuously intensifying the conduct of information gathering, monitoring and coordination for the immediate solution
of the case.

Since the disappearance of Tagistis was practically admitted and taking


note of favorable actions so far taken on the disappearance, the CA directed
Gen. Goltiao as the officer in command of the area of disappearance to
form TASK FORCE TAGITIS.[18]
Task Force Tagitis
On January 11, 2008, Gen. Goltiao designated PS Supt. Ahiron Ajirim (PS
Supt. Ajirim) to head TASK FORCE TAGITIS.[19] The CA subsequently set three
hearings to monitor whether TASK FORCE TAGITIS was exerting extraordinary
efforts in handling the disappearance of Tagitis.[20] As planned, (1) the first
hearing would be to mobilize the CIDG, Zamboanga City; (2) the second
hearing would be to mobilize intelligence with Abu Sayyaf and ARMM; and (3)
the third hearing would be to mobilize the Chief of Police of Jolo, Sulu and the
Chief of Police of Zamboanga City and other police operatives.[21]
In the hearing on January 17, 2008, TASK FORCE TAGITIS submitted to the
CA an intelligence report from PSL Usman S. Pingay, the Chief of Police of the
Jolo Police Station, stating a possible motive for Tagitis disappearance.[22] The
intelligence report was apparently based on the sworn affidavit dated January
4, 2008 of Muhammad Abdulnazeir N. Matli (Prof. Matli), Professor of Islamic
Studies at the University of the Philippines and an Honorary Student Counselor
of the IDB Scholarship Program in the Philippines, who told the Provincial
Governor of Sulu that:[23]
[Based] on reliable information from the Office of Muslim Affairs in Manila, Tagitis has reportedly taken and carried
away more or less Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00) deposited and entrusted to his *personal+ bank accounts by the
Central Office of IDB, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which *was+ intended for the IDB Scholarship Fund.

In the same hearing, PS Supt. Ajirim testified that since the CIDG was
alleged to be responsible, he personally went to the CIDG office in Zamboanga
City to conduct an ocular inspection/investigation, particularly of their
detention cells.[24] PS Supt. Ajirim stated that the CIDG, while helping TASK
FORCE TAGITIS investigate the disappearance of Tagitis, persistently denied
any knowledge or complicity in any abduction.[25] He further testified that prior
to the hearing, he had already mobilized and given specific instructions to their
supporting units to perform their respective tasks; that they even talked to,
but failed to get any lead from the respondent in Jolo.[26] In his submitted
investigation report dated January 16, 2008, PS Supt. Ajirim concluded:[27]
9.

Gleaned from the undersigned inspection and observation at the Headquarters 9 RCIDU and the documents at hand, it
is my own initial conclusion that the 9RCIDU and other PNP units in the area had no participation neither [sic] something
to do with [sic] mysterious disappearance of Engr. Morced Tagitis last October 30, 2007. Since doubt has been raised
regarding the emolument on the Islamic Development Bank Scholar program of IDB that was reportedly deposited in the
personal account of Engr. Tagitis by the IDB central office in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Secondly, it could might
[sic] be done by resentment or sour grape among students who are applying for the scholar [sic] and were denied which
was allegedly conducted/screened by the subject being the coordinator of said program.

20.

It is also premature to conclude but it does or it may and [sic] presumed that the motive behind the disappearance of
the subject might be due to the funds he maliciously spent for his personal interest and wanted to elude responsibilities
from the institution where he belong as well as to the Islamic student scholars should the statement of Prof. Matli be true
or there might be a professional jealousy among them.
xxxx

It is recommended that the Writ of Amparo filed against the respondents be dropped and dismissed considering
on [sic] the police and military actions in the area particularly the CIDG are exerting their efforts and religiously doing
their tasked [sic] in the conduct of its intelligence monitoring and investigation for the early resolution of this instant
case. But rest assured, our office, in coordination with other law-enforcement agencies in the area, are continuously and
religiously conducting our investigation for the resolution of this case.

On February 4, 2008, the CA issued an ALARM WARNING that TASK


FORCE TAGITIS did not appear to be exerting extraordinary efforts in resolving
Tagitis disappearance on the following grounds:[28]
(1)
This Court FOUND that it was only as late as January 28, 2008, after the hearing, that GEN. JOEL
GOLTIAO and COL. AHIRON AJIRIM had requested for clear photographs when it should have been standard operating
procedure in kidnappings or disappearances that the first agenda was for the police to secure clear pictures of the
missing person, Engr. Morced Tagitis, for dissemination to all parts of the country and to neighboring countries. It had
been three (3) months since GEN. JOEL GOLTIAO admitted having been informed on November 5, 2007 of the alleged
abduction of Engr. Morced Tagitis by alleged bad elements of the CIDG. It had been more than one (1) month since
the Writ of Amparo had been issued on December 28, 2007. It had been three (3) weeks when battle formation was
ordered through Task Force Tagitis, on January 17, 2008. It was only on January 28, 2008 when the Task Force Tagitis
requested for clear and recent photographs of the missing person, Engr. Morced Tagitis, despite the Task Force Tagitis
claim that they already had an all points bulletin, since November 5, 2007, on the missing person, Engr. Morced
Tagitis. How could the police look for someone who disappeared if no clear photograph had been disseminated?

(2)
Furthermore, Task Force Tagitis COL. AHIROM AJIRIM informed this Court that P/Supt KASIM was
designated as Col. Ahirom Ajirims replacement in the latters official designated post. Yet, P/Supt KASIMs subpoena was
returned to this Court unserved. Since this Court was made to understand that it was P/Supt KASIM who was the
petitioners unofficial source of the military intelligence information that Engr. Morced Tagitis was abducted by bad
elements of the CIDG (par. 15 of the Petition), the close contact between P/Supt KASIM and Col. Ahirom Ajirim of TASK
FORCE TAGITIS should have ensured the appearance of Col. KASIM in response to this courts subpoena and COL. KASIM
could have confirmed the military intelligence information that bad elements of the CIDG had abducted Engr. Morced
Tagitis.

Testimonies for the Respondent


On January 7, 2008, the respondent, Mary Jean B. Tagitis, testified on
direct examination that she went to Jolo and Zamboanga in her efforts to
locate her husband. She said that a friend from Zamboanga holding a high
position in the military (whom she did not then identify) gave her information
that allowed her to specify her allegations, particularly paragraph 15 of the
petition.[29] This friend also told her that her husband *was+ in good
hands.[30] The respondent also testified that she sought the assistance of her
former boss in Davao City, Land Bank Bajada Branch Manager Rudy Salvador,
who told her that PNP CIDG is holding *her husband+, Engineer Morced
Tagitis.[31] The respondent recounted that she went to Camp Katitipan in
Davao City where she met Col. Julasirim Ahadin Kasim (Col. Kasim/Sr. Supt
Kasim) who read to her and her friends (who were then with her) a highly
confidential report that contained the alleged activities of Engineer Tagitis
and informed her that her husband was abducted because he is under
custodial investigation for being a liaison for J.I. or Jemaah Islamiah.[32]
On January 17, 2008, the respondent on cross-examination testified that
she is Tagitis second wife, and they have been married for thirteen years;
Tagitis was divorced from his first wife.[33] She last communicated with her
husband on October 29, 2007 at around 7:31 p.m. through text messaging;
Tagitis was then on his way to Jolo, Sulu, from Zamboanga City.[34]
The respondent narrated that she learned of her husbands
disappearance on October 30, 2007 when her stepdaughter, Zaynah Tagitis
(Zaynah), informed her that she had not heard from her father since the time
they arranged to meet in Manila on October 31, 2007.[35] The respondent
explained that it took her a few days (or on November 5, 2007) to personally

ask Kunnong to report her husbands disappearance to the Jolo Police Station,
since she had the impression that her husband could not communicate with
her because his cellular phones battery did not have enough power, and that
he would call her when he had fully-charged his cellular phones battery.[36]
The respondent also identified the high-ranking military friend, who gave
her the information found in paragraph 15 of her petition, as Lt. Col. Pedro L.
Ancanan, Jr (Col. Ancanan). She met him in Camp Karingal, Zamboanga
through her boss.[37] She also testified that she was with three other people,
namely, Mrs. Marydel Martin Talbin and her two friends from Mati City, Davao
Oriental, when Col. Kasim read to them the contents of the highly
confidential report at Camp Katitipan, Davao City. The respondent further
narrated that the report indicated that her husband met with people
belonging to a terrorist group and that he was under custodial
investigation. She then told Col. Kasim that her husband was a diabetic taking
maintenance medication, and asked that the Colonel relay to the persons
holding him the need to give him his medication.[38]
On February 11, 2008, TASK FORCE TAGITIS submitted two narrative
reports,[39] signed by the respondent, detailing her efforts to locate her
husband which led to her meetings with Col. Ancanan of the Philippine
Army and Col. Kasim of the PNP. In her narrative report concerning her
meeting with Col. Ancanan, the respondent recounted, viz:[40]
On November 11, 2007, we went to Zamboanga City with my friend Mrs. Marydel Talbin. Our flight from Davao
City is 9:00 oclock in the morning; we arrived at Zamboanga Airport at around 10:00 oclock. We [were] fetched by the
two staffs of Col. Ancanan. We immediately proceed [sic] to West Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM).
On that same day, we had private conversation with Col. Ancanan. He interviewed me and got information about
the personal background of Engr. Morced N. Tagitis. After he gathered all information, he revealed to us the contents of
text messages they got from the cellular phone of the subject Engr. Tagitis. One of the very important text messages of
Engr. Tagitis sent to his daughter Zaynah Tagitis was that she was not allowed to answer any telephone calls in his
condominium unit.
While we were there he did not tell us any information of the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis. After the said meeting
with Col. Ancanan, he treated us as guests to the city. His two staffs accompanied us to the mall to purchase our plane
ticket going back to Davao City on November 12, 2007.
When we arrived in Davao City on November 12, 2007 at 9:00 in the morning, Col. Ancanan and I were discussing
some points through phone calls. He assured me that my husband is alive and hes last looked *sic] in Talipapao, Jolo,
Sulu. Yet I did not believe his given statements of the whereabouts of my husband, because I contacted some of my
friends who have access to the groups of MILF, MNLF and ASG. I called up Col. Ancanan several times begging to tell me
the exact location of my husband and who held him but he refused.

While I was in Jolo, Sulu on November 30, 2007, I called him up again because the PNP, Jolo did not give me any
information of the whereabouts of my husband. Col. Ancanan told me that Sana ngayon alam mo na kung saan ang
kinalalagyan ng asawa mo. When I was in Zamboanga, I was thinking of dropping by the office of Col. Ancanan, but I was
hesitant to pay him a visit for the reason that the Chief of Police of Jolo told me not to contact any AFP officials and he
promised me that he can solve the case of my husband (Engr. Tagitis) within nine days.
I appreciate the effort of Col. Ancanan on trying to solve the case of my husband Engr. Morced Tagitis, yet failed to
do so.

The respondent also narrated her encounter with Col. Kasim, as


follows:[41]
On November 7, 2007, I went to Land Bank of the Philippines, Bajada Branch, Davao City to meet Mr. Rudy
Salvador. I told him that my husband, Engineer Morced Tagitis was presumed to be abducted in Jolo, Sulu on October 30,
2007. I asked him a favor to contact his connections in the military in Jolo, Sulu where the abduction of Engr. Tagitis took
place. Mr. Salvador immediately called up Camp Katitipan located in Davao City looking for high-ranking official who can
help me gather reliable information behind the abduction of subject Engineer Tagitis.
On that same day, Mr. Salvador and my friend, Anna Mendoza, Executive Secretary, accompanied me to Camp
Katitipan to meet Col. Kasim. Mr. Salvador introduced me to Col. Kasim and we had a short conversation. And he
assured me that hell do the best he can to help me find my husband.
After a few weeks, Mr. Salvador called me up informing me up informing me that I am to go to Camp Katitipan to
meet Col. Kasim for he has an urgent, confidential information to reveal.
On November 24, 2007, we went back to Camp Katitipan with my three friends. That was the time that Col. Kasim
read to us the confidential report that Engr. Tagitis was allegedly connected [with] different terrorist [groups], one of
which he mentioned in the report was OMAR PATIK and a certain SANTOS - a Balik Islam.
It is also said that Engr. Tagitis is carrying boxes of medicines for the injured terrorists as a supplier. These are the
two information that I can still remember. It was written in a long bond paper with PNP Letterhead. It was not shown to
us, yet Col. Kasim was the one who read it for us.
He asked a favor to me that Please dont quote my Name! Because this is a raw report. He assured me that my
husband is alive and he is in the custody of the military for custodial investigation. I told him to please take care of my
husband because he has aliments and he recently took insulin for he is a diabetic patient.
In my petition for writ of amparo, I emphasized the information that I got from Kasim.

On February 11, 2008, the respondent presented Mrs. Marydel Martin


Talbin (Mrs. Talbin) to corroborate her testimony regarding her efforts to
locate her husband, in relation particularly with the information she received
from Col. Kasim. Mrs. Talbin testified that she was with the respondent when
she went to Zamboanga to see Col. Ancanan, and to Davao City at Camp
Katitipan to meet Col. Kasim.[42]
In Zamboanga, Mrs. Talbin recounted that they met with Col. Ancanan,
who told them that there was a report and that he showed them a series of

text messages from Tagitis cellular phone, which showed that Tagitis and his
daughter would meet in Manila on October 30, 2007.[43]
She further narrated that sometime on November 24, 2007, she went
with the respondent together with two other companions, namely, Salvacion
Serrano and Mini Leong, to Camp Katitipan to talk to Col. Kasim.[44] The
respondent asked Col. Kasim if he knew the exact location of Engr. Tagitis. Col.
Kasim told them that Tagitis was in good hands, although he was not certain
whether he was with the PNP or with the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP). She further recounted that based on the report Col. Kasim read in their
presence, Tagitis was under custodial investigation because he was being
charged with terrorism; Tagitis in fact had been under surveillance since
January 2007 up to the time he was abducted when he was seen talking to
Omar Patik and a certain Santos of Bulacan, a Balik Islam charged with
terrorism. Col. Kasim also told them that he could not give a copy of the
report because it was a raw report.[45] She also related that the Col. Kasim
did not tell them exactly where Tagitis was being kept, although he mentioned
Talipapao, Sulu.Prof.,lalabas din yan.[50] Prof. Matli also emphasized that despite
what his January 4, 2008 affidavit indicated,[51] he never told PS Supt. Pingay,
or made any accusation, that Tagitis took away money entrusted to
him.[52] Prof. Matli confirmed, however, that that he had received an e-mail
report[53] from Nuraya Lackian of the Office of Muslim Affairs in Manila that
the IDB was seeking assistance of the office in locating the funds of IDB
scholars deposited in Tagitis personal account.[54]
On cross-examination by the respondents counsel, Prof. Matli testified
that his January 4, 2008 affidavit was already prepared when PS Supt. Pingay
asked him to sign it.[55] Prof Matli clarified that although he read the affidavit
before signing it, he was not so much aware of *its+ contents.[56]
On February 11, 2008, the petitioners presented Col. Kasim to rebut
material portions of the respondents testimony, particularly the allegation
that he had stated that Tagitis was in the custody of either the military or the
PNP.[57] Col. Kasim categorically denied the statements made by the
respondent in her narrative report, specifically: (1) that Tagitis was seen
carrying boxes of medicines as supplier for the injured terrorists; (2) that
Tagitis was under the custody of the military, since he merely said to the

respondent that your husband is in good hands and is probably taken


cared of by his armed abductors; and (3) that Tagitis was under custodial
investigation by the military, the PNP or the CIDG Zamboanga City.[58] Col.
Kasim emphasized that the informal letter he received from his informant in
Sulu did not indicate that Tagitis was in the custody of the CIDG.[59] He also
stressed that the information he provided to the respondent was merely a raw
report sourced from barangay intelligence that still needed confirmation
and follow-up as to its veracity.[60]
On cross-examination, Col. Kasim testified that the information he gave
the respondent was given to him by his informant, who was a civilian asset,
through a letter which he considered as unofficial.[61] Col. Kasim stressed
that the letter was only meant for his consumption and not for reading by
others.[62] He testified further that he destroyed the letter right after he read it
to the respondent and her companions because it was not important to him
and also because the information it contained had no importance in relation
with the abduction of Tagitis.[63] He explained that he did not keep the letter
because it did not contain any information regarding the whereabouts of
Tagitis and the person(s) responsible for his abduction.[64]
In the same hearing on February 11, 2008, the petitioners also presented
Police Senior Superintendent Jose Volpane Pante (Col. Pante), Chief of the
CIDG-9, to disprove the respondents allegation that Tagitis was in the custody
of CIDG-Zamboanga City.[65] Col. Pante clarified that the CIDG was the
investigative arm of the PNP, and that the CIDG investigates and prosecutes
all cases involving violations in the Revised Penal Code particularly those
considered as heinous crimes.[66] Col. Pante further testified that the
allegation that 9 RCIDU personnel were involved in the disappearance of
Tagitis was baseless, since they did not conduct any operation in Jolo, Sulu
before or after Tagitis reported disappearance.[67] Col. Pante added that the
four (4) personnel assigned to the Sulu CIDT had no capability to conduct any
operation, since they were only assigned to investigate matters and to
monitor the terrorism situation.[68] He denied that his office conducted any
surveillance on Tagitis prior to the latters disappearance.[69] Col. Pante further
testified that his investigation of Tagitis disappearance was unsuccessful; the
investigation was still facing a blank wall on the whereabouts of Tagitis.[70]

THE CA RULING
On March 7, 2008, the CA issued its decision[71] confirming that the
disappearance of Tagitis was an enforced disappearance under the United
Nations (UN) Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearances.[72] The CA ruled that when military intelligence pinpointed
the investigative arm of the PNP (CIDG) to be involved in the abduction, the
missing-person case qualified as an enforced disappearance. The conclusion
that the CIDG was involved was based on the respondents testimony,
corroborated by her companion, Mrs. Talbin. The CA noted that the
information that the CIDG, as the police intelligence arm, was involved in
Tagitis abduction came from no less than the military an independent
agency of government. The CA thus greatly relied on the raw report from
Col. Kasims asset, pointing to the CIDGs involvement in Tagitis
abduction. The CA held that raw reports from an asset carried great
weight in the intelligence world. It also labeled as suspect Col. Kasims
subsequent and belated retraction of his statement that the military, the
police, or the CIDG was involved in the abduction of Tagitis.
The CA characterized as too farfetched and unbelievable and a bedlam
of speculation police theories painting the disappearance as intentional on
the part of Tagitis. He had no previous brushes with the law or any record of
overstepping the bounds of any trust regarding money entrusted to him; no
student of the IDB scholarship program ever came forward to complain that he
or she did not get his or her stipend. The CA also found no basis for the police
theory that Tagitis was trying to escape from the clutches of his second wife,
on the basis of the respondents testimony that Tagitis was a Muslim who
could have many wives under the Muslim faith, and that there was no issue
at all when the latter divorced his first wife in order to marry the second.
Finally, the CA also ruled out kidnapping for ransom by the Abu Sayyaf or by
the ARMM paramilitary as the cause for Tagitis disappearance, since the
respondent, the police and the military noted that there was no
acknowledgement of Tagitis abduction or demand for payment of ransom
the usual modus operandi of these terrorist groups.
Based on these considerations, the CA thus extended the privilege of the
writ to Tagitis and his family, and directed the CIDG Chief, Col. Jose Volpane

Pante, PNP Chief Avelino I. Razon, TASK FORCE TAGITISheads Gen. Joel Goltiao
and Col. Ahiron Ajirim, and PACER Chief Sr. Supt. Leonardo A. Espina to exert
extraordinary diligence and efforts to protect the life, liberty and security of
Tagitis, with the obligation to provide monthly reports of their actions to the
CA. At the same time, the CA dismissed the petition against the then
respondents from the military, Lt. Gen Alexander Yano and Gen. Ruben Rafael,
based on the finding that it was PNP-CIDG, not the military, that was involved.
On March 31, 2008, the petitioners moved to reconsider the CA decision,
but the CA denied the motion in its Resolution of April 9, 2008.[73]
THE PETITION
In this Rule 45 appeal questioning the CAs March 7, 2008 decision, the
petitioners mainly dispute the sufficiency in form and substance of
the Amparo petition filed before the CA; the sufficiency of the legal remedies
the respondent took before petitioning for the writ; the finding that the rights
to life, liberty and security of Tagitis had been violated; the sufficiency of
evidence supporting the conclusion that Tagitis was abducted; the conclusion
that the CIDG Zamboanga was responsible for the abduction; and, generally,
the ruling that the respondent discharged the burden of proving the
allegations of the petition by substantial evidence.[74]
THE COURTS RULING
We do not find the petition meritorious.
Sufficiency in Form and Substance
In questioning the sufficiency in form and substance of the
respondents Amparo petition, the petitioners contend that the petition violated
Section 5(c), (d), and (e) of the Amparo Rule. Specifically, the petitioners allege
that the respondent failed to:
1) allege any act or omission the petitioners committed in violation of
Tagitis rights to life, liberty and security;

2) allege in a complete manner how Tagitis was abducted, the persons


responsible for his disappearance, and the respondents source
of information;
3) allege that the abduction was committed at the petitioners instructions or
with their consent;
4) implead the members of CIDG regional office in Zamboanga alleged to
have custody over her husband;
5) attach the affidavits of witnesses to support her accusations;
6) allege any action or inaction attributable to the petitioners in the
performance of their duties in the investigation of Tagitis disappearance;
and
7) specify what legally available efforts she took to determine the fate or
whereabouts of her husband.
A petition for the Writ of Amparo shall be signed and verified and shall
allege, among others (in terms of the portions the petitioners cite):[75]

(c) The right to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party
violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission
of the respondent, and how such threat or violation is committed
with the attendant circumstances detailed in supporting affidavits;

(d) The investigation conducted, if any, specifying the names,


personal circumstances, and addresses of the investigating authority
or individuals, as well as the manner and conduct of the
investigation, together with any report;

(e) The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to determine the
fate or whereabouts of the aggrieved party and the identity of the
person responsible for the threat, act or omission; and

The framers of the Amparo Rule never intended Section 5(c) to be complete
in every detail in stating the threatened or actual violation of a victims rights. As
in any other initiatory pleading, the pleader must of course state the ultimate facts
constituting the cause of action, omitting the evidentiary details. [76] In
an Amparo petition, however, this requirement must be read in light of the nature
and purpose of the proceeding, which addresses a situation of uncertainty; the
petitioner may not be able to describe with certainty how the victim exactly
disappeared, or who actually acted to kidnap, abduct or arrest him or her, or where
the victim is detained, because these information may purposely be hidden or
covered up by those who caused the disappearance. In this type of situation, to
require the level of specificity, detail and precision that the petitioners apparently
want to read into the Amparo Rule is to make this Rule a token gesture of judicial
concern for violations of the constitutional rights to life, liberty and security.
To read the Rules of Court requirement on pleadings while addressing the
unique Amparo situation, the test in reading the petition should be to determine
whether it contains the details available to the petitioner under the
circumstances, while presenting a cause of action showing a violation of the
victims rights to life, liberty and security through State or private party
action. The petition should likewise be read in its totality, rather than in terms of
its isolated component parts, to determine if the required elements namely, of the
disappearance, the State or private action, and the actual or threatened violations of
the rights to life, liberty or security are present.
In the present case, the petition amply recites in its paragraphs 4 to 11 the
circumstances under which Tagitis suddenly dropped out of sight after engaging in
normal activities, and thereafter was nowhere to be found despite efforts to locate
him. The petition alleged, too, under its paragraph 7, in relation to paragraphs 15
and 16, that according to reliable information, police operatives were the
perpetrators of the abduction. It also clearly alleged how Tagitis rights to life,
liberty and security were violated when he was forcibly taken and boarded on a

motor vehicle by a couple of burly men believed to be police intelligence


operatives, and then taken into custody by the respondents police intelligence
operatives since October 30, 2007, specifically by the CIDG, PNP Zamboanga
City, x x x held against his will in an earnest attempt of the police to involve and
connect [him] with different terrorist groups.[77]
These allegations, in our view, properly pleaded ultimate facts within the
pleaders knowledge about Tagitis disappearance, the participation by agents of
the State in this disappearance, the failure of the State to release Tagitis or to
provide sufficient information about his whereabouts, as well as the actual
violation of his right to liberty. Thus, the petition cannot be faulted for any failure
in its statement of a cause of action.
If a defect can at all be attributed to the petition, this defect is its lack of
supporting affidavit, as required by Section 5(c) of the Amparo Rule. Owing to the
summary nature of the proceedings for the writ and to facilitate the resolution of
the petition, the Amparo Rule incorporated the requirement for supporting
affidavits, with the annotation that these can be used as the affiants direct
testimony.[78] This requirement, however, should not be read as an absolute one
that necessarily leads to the dismissal of the petition if not strictly
followed. Where, as in this case, the petitioner has substantially complied with the
requirement by submitting averified petition sufficiently detailing the facts relied
upon, the strict need for the sworn statement that an affidavit represents is
essentially fulfilled. We note that the failure to attach the required affidavits was
fully cured when the respondent and her witness (Mrs. Talbin) personally testified
in the CA hearings held on January 7 and 17 and February 18, 2008 to swear to
and flesh out the allegations of the petition. Thus, even on this point, the petition
cannot be faulted.
Section 5(d) of the Amparo Rule requires that prior investigation of an
alleged disappearance must have been made, specifying the manner and results of
the investigation. Effectively, this requirement seeks to establish at the earliest
opportunity the level of diligence the public authorities undertook in relation with
the reported disappearance.[79]

We reject the petitioners argument that the respondents petition did not
comply with the Section 5(d) requirements of the Amparo Rule, as the petition
specifies in its paragraph 11 that Kunnong and his companions immediately
reported Tagitis disappearance to the police authorities in Jolo, Sulu as soon as
they were relatively certain that he indeed had disappeared. The police, however,
gave them the ready answer that Tagitis could have been abducted by the Abu
Sayyaf group or other anti-government groups. The respondent also alleged in
paragraphs 17 and 18 of her petition that she filed a complaint with the PNP
Police Station in Cotobato and in Jolo, but she was told of an intriguing tale by
the police that her husband was having a good time with another woman. The
disappearance was alleged to have been reported, too, to no less than the Governor
of the ARMM, followed by the respondents personal inquiries that yielded the
factual bases for her petition.[80]
These allegations, to our mind, sufficiently specify that reports have been
made to the police authorities, and that investigations should have followed. That
the petition did not state the manner and results of the investigation that
the Amparo Rule requires, but rather generally stated the inaction of the police,
their failure to perform their duty to investigate, or at the very least, their reported
failed efforts, should not be a reflection on the completeness of the petition. To
require the respondent to elaborately specify the names, personal circumstances,
and addresses of the investigating authority, as well the manner and conduct of the
investigation is an overly strict interpretation of Section 5(d), given the
respondents frustrations in securing an investigation with meaningful results.
Under these circumstances, we are more than satisfied that the allegations of the
petition on the investigations undertaken are sufficiently complete for purposes of
bringing the petition forward.
Section 5(e) is in the Amparo Rule to prevent the use of a petition that
otherwise is not supported by sufficient allegations to constitute a proper cause of
action as a means to fish for evidence.[81] The petitioners contend that the
respondents petition did not specify what legally available efforts were taken by
the respondent, and that there was an undue haste in the filing of the petition

when, instead of cooperating with authorities, the respondent immediately invoked


the Courts intervention.
We do not see the respondents petition as the petitioners view it.
Section 5(e) merely requires that the Amparo petitioner (the respondent in
the present case) allege the actions and recourses taken to determine the fate or
whereabouts of the aggrieved party and the identity of the person responsible for
the threat, act or omission. The following allegations of the respondents petition
duly outlined the actions she had taken and the frustrations she encountered, thus
compelling her to file her petition.
xxxx

7.

Soon after the student left the room, Engr. Tagitis went out of the pension house to take his early lunch but while

out on the street, a couple of burly men believed to be police intelligence operatives, forcibly took him and boarded the
latter on a motor vehicle then sped away without the knowledge of his student, Arsimin Kunnong;
xxxx
10.

When Kunnong could not locate Engr. Tagitis, the former sought the help of another IDB scholar and reported the
matter to the local police agency;

11.

Arsimin Kunnong, including his friends and companions in Jolo, exerted efforts in trying to locate the whereabouts of
Engr. Tagitis and when he reported the matter to the police authorities in Jolo, he was immediately given a ready answer
that Engr. Tagitis could [have been] abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group and other groups known to be fighting against the
government;

12.

Being scared with these suggestions and insinuations of the police officers, Kunnong reported the matter to the
[respondent](wife of Engr. Tagitis) by phone and other responsible officers and coordinators of the IDB Scholarship
Programme in the Philippines who alerted the office of the Governor of ARMM who was then preparing to attend the OIC
meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;
13.
[The respondent], on the other hand, approached some of her co-employees with the Land Bank in Digos branch,
Digos City, Davao del Sur, who likewise sought help from some of their friends in the military who could help them
find/locate the whereabouts of her husband;

xxxx
15. According to reliable information received by the [respondent], subject Engr. Tagitis is in the custody of police intelligence
operatives, specifically with the CIDG, PNP Zamboanga City, being held against his will in an earnest attempt of the police
to involve and connect Engr. Tagitis with the different terrorist groups;

xxxx
17.

[The respondent] filed her complaint with the PNP Police Station at the ARMM in Cotobato and in Jolo, as suggested by
her friends, seeking their help to find her husband, but *the respondents+ request and pleadings failed to produce any
positive results

20.

xxxx
Lately, [respondent] was again advised by one of the [petitioners] to go to the ARMM Police Headquarters again in
Cotobato City and also to the different Police Headquarters including the police headquarters in Davao City, in
Zamboanga City, in Jolo, and in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and all these places have been visited by the [respondent] in
search for her husband, which entailed expenses for her trips to these places thereby resorting her to borrowings and
beggings [sic] for financial help from friends and relatives only to try complying to the different suggestions of these
police officers, despite of which, her efforts produced no positive results up to the present time;

xxxx
25.
[The respondent] has exhausted all administrative avenues and remedies
but to no avail, and under the circumstances, [respondent] has no other plain,
speedy and adequate remedy to protect and get the release of subject Engr.
Morced Tagitis from the illegal clutches of [the petitioners], their intelligence
operatives and the like which are in total violation of the subjects human and
constitutional rights, except the issuance of a WRIT OF AMPARO.

Based on these considerations, we rule that the respondents petition for the
Writ of Amparo is sufficient in form and substance and that the Court of Appeals
had every reason to proceed with its consideration of the case.

The Desaparecidos
The present case is one of first impression in the use and application of the
Rule on the Writ of Amparo in an enforced disappearance situation. For a deeper
appreciation of the application of this Rule to an enforced disappearance situation,
a brief look at the historical context of the writ and enforced disappearances would
be very helpful.
The phenomenon of enforced disappearance arising from State action first
attracted notice in Adolf Hitlers Nact und Nebel Erlass or Night and Fog Decree
of December 7, 1941.[82] The Third Reichs Night and Fog Program, a State
policy, was directed at persons in occupied territories endangering German
security; they were transported secretly to Germany where they disappeared
without a trace. In order to maximize the desired intimidating effect, the policy
prohibited government officials from providing information about the fate of these
targeted persons.[83]

In the mid-1970s, the phenomenon of enforced disappearances resurfaced,


shocking and outraging the world when individuals, numbering anywhere from
6,000 to 24,000, were reported to have disappeared during the military regime in
Argentina. Enforced disappearances spread in Latin America, and the issue
became an international concern when the world noted its widespread and
systematic use by State security forces in that continent under Operation
Condor[84] and during the Dirty War[85] in the 1970s and 1980s. The escalation of
the practice saw political activists secretly arrested, tortured, and killed as part of
governments counter-insurgency campaigns. As this form of political brutality
became routine elsewhere in the continent, the Latin American media standardized
the term disappearance to describe the phenomenon. The victims of enforced
disappearances were called the desaparecidos,[86] which literally means the
disappeared ones.[87] In general, there are three different kinds of
disappearance cases:
1) those of people arrested without witnesses or without positive identification
of the arresting agents and are never found again;
2) those of prisoners who are usually arrested without an appropriate warrant
and held in complete isolation for weeks or months while their families are
unable to discover their whereabouts and the military authorities deny having
them in custody until they eventually reappear in one detention center or
another; and
3) those of victims of salvaging who have disappeared until their lifeless
bodies are later discovered.[88]

In the Philippines, enforced disappearances generally fall within the first


two categories,[89] and 855 cases were recorded during the period of martial law
from 1972 until 1986. Of this number, 595 remained missing, 132 surfaced alive
and 127 were found dead. During former President Corazon C. Aquinos term, 820
people were reported to have disappeared and of these, 612 cases were
documented. Of this number, 407 remain missing, 108 surfaced alive and 97 were
found dead. The number of enforced disappearances dropped during former
President Fidel V. Ramos term when only 87 cases were reported, while the threeyear term of former President Joseph E. Estrada yielded 58 reported

cases. KARAPATAN, a local non-governmental organization, reports that as of


March 31, 2008, the records show that there were a total of 193 victims of enforced
disappearance under incumbent President Gloria M. Arroyos administration. The
Commission on Human Rights records show a total of 636 verified cases of
enforced disappearances from 1985 to 1993. Of this number, 406 remained
missing, 92 surfaced alive, 62 were found dead, and 76 still have undetermined
status.[90] Currently, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearance[91] reports 619 outstanding cases of enforced or
involuntary disappearances covering the period December 1, 2007 to November
30, 2008.[92]
Enforced Disappearances
Under Philippine Law
The Amparo Rule expressly provides that the writ shall cover extralegal
killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.[93] We note that although
the writ specifically covers enforced disappearances, this concept is neither
defined nor penalized in this jurisdiction. The records of the Supreme Court
Committee on the Revision of Rules (Committee) reveal that the drafters of
the Amparo Rule initially considered providing an elemental definition of the
concept of enforced disappearance:[94]
JUSTICE MARTINEZ: I believe that first and foremost we should come up or
formulate a specific definition [for] extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances. From that definition, then we can proceed to formulate the rules,
definite rules concerning the same.
CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO: As things stand, there is no law penalizing
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances so initially also we have
to [come up with] the nature of these extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances [to be covered by the Rule] because our concept of killings
and disappearances will define the jurisdiction of the courts. So well have to
agree among ourselves about the nature of killings and disappearances for
instance, in other jurisdictions, the rules only cover state actors. That is an
element incorporated in their concept of extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances. In other jurisdictions, the concept includes acts and omissions
not only of state actors but also of non state actors. Well, more specifically in the
case of the Philippines for instance, should these rules include the killings, the
disappearances which may be authored by let us say, the NPAs or the leftist

organizations and others. So, again we need to define the nature of the
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances that will be covered by these
rules. [Emphasis supplied] [95]

In the end, the Committee took cognizance of several bills filed in the House
of Representatives[96] and in the Senate[97] on extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances, and resolved to do away with a clear textual definition of these
terms in the Rule. The Committee instead focused on the nature and scope of the
concerns within its power to address and provided the appropriate remedy therefor,
mindful that an elemental definition may intrude into the ongoing legislative
efforts.[98]
As the law now stands, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in
this jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately from the component criminal
acts undertaken to carry out these killings and enforced disappearances and are
now penalized under the Revised Penal Code and special laws.[99] The simple
reason is that the Legislature has not spoken on the matter; the determination of
what acts are criminal and what the corresponding penalty these criminal acts
should carry are matters of substantive law that only the Legislature has the power
to enact under the countrys constitutional scheme and power structure.
Even without the benefit of directly applicable substantive laws on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, however, the Supreme Court is not
powerless to act under its own constitutional mandate to promulgate rules
concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
practice and procedure in all courts,[100] since extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances, by their nature and purpose, constitute State or private party
violation of the constitutional rights of individuals to life, liberty and
security. Although the Courts power is strictly procedural and as such does not
diminish, increase or modify substantive rights, the legal protection that the Court
can provide can be very meaningful through the procedures it sets in addressing
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The Court, through its
procedural rules, can set the procedural standards and thereby directly compel the
public authorities to act on actual or threatened violations of constitutional rights.

To state the obvious, judicial intervention can make a difference even if only
procedurally in a situation when the very same investigating public authorities
may have had a hand in the threatened or actual violations of constitutional rights.
Lest this Court intervention be misunderstood, we clarify once again that we
do not rule on any issue of criminal culpability for the extrajudicial killing or
enforced disappearance. This is an issue that requires criminal action before our
criminal courts based on our existing penal laws. Our intervention is in
determining whether an enforced disappearance has taken place and who is
responsible or accountable for this disappearance, and to define and impose the
appropriate remedies to address it. The burden for the public authorities to
discharge in these situations, under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, is
twofold. The first is to ensure that all efforts at disclosure and investigation are
undertaken under pain of indirect contempt from this Court when governmental
efforts are less than what the individual situations require. The second is to
address the disappearance, so that the life of the victim is preserved and his or her
liberty and security restored. In these senses, our orders and directives relative to
the writ are continuing efforts that are not truly terminated until the extrajudicial
killing or enforced disappearance is fully addressed by the complete determination
of the fate and the whereabouts of the victim, by the production of the disappeared
person and the restoration of his or her liberty and security, and, in the proper case,
by the commencement of criminal action against the guilty parties.

Enforced Disappearance
Under International Law
From the International Law perspective, involuntary or enforced
disappearance is considered a flagrant violation of human rights.[101] It does not
only violate the right to life, liberty and security of thedesaparecido; it affects their
families as well through the denial of their right to information regarding the
circumstances of the disappeared family member. Thus, enforced disappearances
have been said to be a double form of torture, with doubly paralyzing impact
for the victims, as they are kept ignorant of their own fates, while family

members are deprived of knowing the whereabouts of their detained loved ones
and suffer as well the serious economic hardship and poverty that in most cases
follow the disappearance of the household breadwinner.[102]
The UN General Assembly first considered the issue of Disappeared
Persons in December 1978 under Resolution 33/173. The Resolution expressed
the General Assemblys deep concern arising from reports from various parts of
the world relating to enforced or involuntary disappearances, and requested the
UN Commission on Human Rights to consider the issue of enforced
disappearances with a view to making appropriate recommendations.[103]
In 1992, in response to the reality that the insidious practice of enforced
disappearance had become a global phenomenon, the UN General Assembly
adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance (Declaration).[104] This Declaration, for the first time, provided in
its third preambular clause a working description of enforced disappearance, as
follows:
Deeply concerned that in many countries, often in a persistent manner,
enforced disappearances occur, in the sense that persons are arrested, detained
or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by
officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized
groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct
or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal
to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to
acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside
the protection of the law. [Emphasis supplied]

Fourteen years after (or on December 20, 2006), the UN General Assembly
adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from
Enforced Disappearance (Convention).[105] The Convention was opened for
signature in Paris, France on February 6, 2007.[106] Article 2 of the Convention
defined enforced disappearance as follows:
For the purposes of this Convention, enforced disappearance is
considered to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation
of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the

authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to


acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or
whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the
protection of the law. [Emphasis supplied]

The Convention is the first universal human rights instrument to assert that
there is a right not to be subject to enforced disappearance[107] and that this right is
non-derogable.[108] It provides that no one shall be subjected to enforced
disappearance under any circumstances, be it a state of war, internal political
instability, or any other public emergency. It obliges State Parties to codify
enforced disappearance as an offense punishable with appropriate penalties under
their criminal law.[109] It also recognizes the right of relatives of the disappeared
persons and of the society as a whole to know the truth on the fate and
whereabouts of the disappeared and on the progress and results of the
investigation.[110] Lastly, it classifies enforced disappearance as a continuing
offense, such that statutes of limitations shall not apply until the fate and
whereabouts of the victim are established.[111]

Binding Effect of UN
Action on the Philippines
To date, the Philippines has neither signed nor ratified the Convention, so
that the country is not yet committed to enact any law penalizing enforced
disappearance as a crime. The absence of a specific penal law, however, is not a
stumbling block for action from this Court, as heretofore mentioned; underlying
every enforced disappearance is a violation of the constitutional rights to life,
liberty and security that the Supreme Court is mandated by the Constitution to
protect through its rule-making powers.
Separately from the Constitution (but still pursuant to its terms), the Court is
guided, in acting on Amparo cases, by the reality that the Philippines is a member
of the UN, bound by its Charter and by the various conventions we signed and
ratified, particularly the conventions touching on humans rights. Under the UN
Charter, the Philippines pledged to promote universal respect for, and observance
of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions as to race,
sex, language or religion.[112] Although no universal agreement has been reached

on the precise extent of the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed
to all by the Charter,[113] it was the UN itself that issued the Declaration on
enforced disappearance, and this Declaration states:[114]
Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to dignity. It is condemned as
a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and as a grave
and flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms
proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed and
developed in international instruments in this field. [Emphasis supplied]

As a matter of human right and fundamental freedom and as a policy matter made
in a UN Declaration, the ban on enforced disappearance cannot but have its effects
on the country, given our own adherence togenerally accepted principles of
international law as part of the law of the land.[115]
In the recent case of Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the
Philippines v. Duque III,[116] we held that:
Under the 1987 Constitution, international law can become part of the
sphere of domestic law either by transformation or incorporation. The
transformation method requires that an international law be transformed into a
domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as local legislation. The
incorporation method applies when, by mere constitutional declaration,
international law is deemed to have the force of domestic law. [Emphasis
supplied]

We characterized generally accepted principles of international law as norms of


general or customary international law that are binding on all states. We held
further:[117]
[G]enerally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the
incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if
they do not derive from treaty obligations. The classical formulation in
international law sees those customary rules accepted as binding result from
the combination [of] two elements: the established, widespread, and
consistent practice on the part of States; and a psychological element known
as theopinion juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in
the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered
obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it. [Emphasis in the
original]

The most widely accepted statement of sources of international law today is


Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which provides
that the Court shall apply international custom, as evidence of a general practice
accepted as law.[118] The material sources of custom include State practice, State
legislation, international and national judicial decisions, recitals in treaties and
other international instruments, a pattern of treaties in the same form, the practice
of international organs, and resolutions relating to legal questions in the UN
General Assembly.[119] Sometimes referred to as evidence of international
law,[120] these sources identify the substance and content of the obligations of
States and are indicative of the State practice and opinio juris requirements of
international law.[121] We note the following in these respects:
First, barely two years from the adoption of the Declaration, the
Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly adopted the InterAmerican Convention on Enforced Disappearance of Persons in June
1994.[122] State parties undertook under this Convention not to practice, permit, or
tolerate the forced disappearance of persons, even in states of emergency or
suspension of individual guarantees.[123] One of the key provisions includes the
States obligation to enact the crime of forced disappearance in their respective
national criminal laws and to establish jurisdiction over such cases when the crime
was committed within their jurisdiction, when the victim is a national of that State,
and when the alleged criminal is within its territory and it does not proceed to
extradite him, which can be interpreted as establishing universal jurisdiction
among the parties to the Inter-American Convention.[124] At present, Colombia,
Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela have enacted separate laws in
accordance with the Inter-American Convention and have defined activities
involving enforced disappearance to be criminal.[125]

Second, in Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights has no


explicit provision dealing with the protection against enforced disappearance. The
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), however, has applied the Convention in
a way that provides ample protection for the underlying rights affected by enforced
disappearance through the Conventions Article 2 on the right to life; Article 3 on

the prohibition of torture; Article 5 on the right to liberty and security; Article 6,
paragraph 1 on the right to a fair trial; and Article 13 on the right to an effective
remedy. A leading example demonstrating the protection afforded by the
European Convention is Kurt v. Turkey,[126] where the ECHR found a violation of
the right to liberty and security of the disappeared person when the applicants son
disappeared after being taken into custody by Turkish forces in the Kurdish village
of Agilli in November 1993. It further found the applicant (the disappeared
persons mother) to be a victim of a violation of Article 3, as a result of the silence
of the authorities and the inadequate character of the investigations
undertaken. The ECHR also saw the lack of any meaningful investigation by the
State as a violation of Article 13.[127]
Third, in the United States, the status of the prohibition on enforced
disappearance as part of customary international law is recognized in the most
recent edition of Restatement of the Law: The Third,[128] which provides that [a]
State violates international law if, as a matter of State policy, it practices,
encourages, or condones (3) the murder or causing the disappearance of
individuals.[129] We significantly note that in a related matter that finds close
identification with enforced disappearance the matter of torture the United
States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Court held in Filartiga v. PenaIrala[130] that the prohibition on torture had attained the status of customary
international law. The court further elaborated on the significance of UN
declarations, as follows:
These U.N. declarations are significant because they specify with great
precision the obligations of member nations under the Charter. Since their
adoption, "(m)embers can no longer contend that they do not know what human
rights they promised in the Charter to promote. Moreover, a U.N. Declaration is,
according to one authoritative definition, "a formal and solemn instrument,
suitable for rare occasions when principles of great and lasting importance are
being enunciated. Accordingly, it has been observed that the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights "no longer fits into the dichotomy of binding
treaty against non-binding pronouncement,' but is rather an authoritative
statement of the international community." Thus, a Declaration creates an
expectation of adherence, and "insofar as the expectation is gradually justified by
State practice, a declaration may by custom become recognized as laying down
rules binding upon the States." Indeed, several commentators have concluded that

the Universal Declaration has become, in toto, a part of binding, customary


international law. [Citations omitted]

Fourth, in interpreting Article 2 (right to an effective domestic remedy) of


the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the
Philippines is both a signatory and a State Party, the UN Human Rights
Committee, under the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has
stated that the act of enforced disappearance violates Articles 6 (right to life), 7
(prohibition on torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and
9 (right to liberty and security of the person) of the ICCPR, and the act may also
amount to a crime against humanity.[131]
Fifth, Article 7, paragraph 1 of the 1998 Rome Statute establishing the
International Criminal Court (ICC) also covers enforced disappearances insofar as
they are defined as crimes against humanity,[132] i.e., crimes committed as part of
a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population, with knowledge
of the attack. While more than 100 countries have ratified the Rome
Statute,[133] the Philippines is still merely a signatory and has not yet ratified it. We
note that Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute has been incorporated in the statutes
of other international and hybrid tribunals, including Sierra Leone Special Court,
the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in Timor-Leste, and the Extraordinary
Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.[134] In addition, the implementing
legislation of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC has given rise to a
number of national criminal provisions also covering enforced disappearance.[135]

While the Philippines is not yet formally bound by the terms of the
Convention on enforced disappearance (or by the specific terms of the Rome
Statute) and has not formally declared enforced disappearance as a specific crime,
the above recital shows that enforced disappearance as a State practice has
been repudiated by the international community, so that the ban on it is now
a generally accepted principle of international law, which we should consider a
part of the law of the land, and which we should act upon to the extent already
allowed under our laws and the international conventions that bind us.

The following civil or political rights under the Universal Declaration of


Human Rights, the ICCPR and the International Convention on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (ICESR) may be infringed in the course of a disappearance:[136]

1) the right to recognition as a person before the law;


2) the right to liberty and security of the person;
3) the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment;
4) the right to life, when the disappeared person is killed;
5) the right to an identity;
6) the right to a fair trial and to judicial guarantees;
7) the right to an effective remedy, including reparation and
compensation;
8) the right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of a
disappearance.
9) the right to protection and assistance to the family;
10) the right to an adequate standard of living;
11) the right to health; and
12) the right to education [Emphasis supplied]

Article 2 of the ICCPR, which binds the Philippines as a state party, provides:
Article 2
3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein
recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy,

notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons


acting in an official capacity;
(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his
right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or
legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided
for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of
judicial remedy;
(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such
remedies when granted. [Emphasis supplied]

In General Comment No. 31, the UN Human Rights Committee opined that
the right to an effective remedy under Article 2 of the ICCPR includes the
obligation of the State to investigate ICCPR violations promptly, thoroughly, and
effectively, viz:[137]

15. Article 2, paragraph 3, requires that in addition to effective


protection of Covenant rights, States Parties must ensure that
individuals also have accessible and effective remedies to vindicate
those rights The Committee attaches importance to States Parties'
establishing appropriate judicial and administrative mechanisms for
addressing
claims
of
rights
violations
under
domestic
law Administrative mechanisms are particularly required to give
effect to thegeneral obligation to investigate allegations of violations
promptly, thoroughly and effectively through independent and
impartial bodies. A failure by a State Party to investigate allegations of
violations could in and of itself give rise to a separate breach of the
Covenant. Cessation of an ongoing violation is an essential element of
the right to an effective remedy. [Emphasis supplied]

The UN Human Rights Committee further stated in the same General


Comment No. 31 that failure to investigate as well as failure to bring to justice the
perpetrators of ICCPR violations could in and of itself give rise to a separate
breach of the Covenant, thus:[138]

18. Where the investigations referred to in paragraph 15 reveal


violations of certain Covenant rights, States Parties must ensure that
those responsible are brought to justice. As with failure to investigate,
failure to bring to justice perpetrators of such violations could in and
of itself give rise to a separate breach of the Covenant. These
obligations arise notably in respect of those violations recognized as
criminal under either domestic or international law, such as torture
and similar cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (article 7),
summary and arbitrary killing (article 6) and enforced disappearance
(articles 7 and 9 and, frequently, 6). Indeed, the problem of impunity
for these violations, a matter of sustained concern by the Committee,
may well be an important contributing element in the recurrence of the
violations. When committed as part of a widespread or systematic
attack on a civilian population, these violations of the Covenant are
crimes against humanity (see Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court, article 7). [Emphasis supplied]

In Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo,[139] this Court, in ruling that the


right to security of persons is a guarantee of the protection of ones right by the
government, held that:

The right to security of person in this third sense is a corollary of the


policy that the State guarantees full respect for human rights under
Article II, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution. As the government is the
chief guarantor of order and security, the Constitutional guarantee of
the rights to life, liberty and security of person is rendered ineffective if

government does not afford protection to these rights especially when


they are under threat. Protection includes conducting effective
investigations, organization of the government apparatus to extend
protection to victims of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances
(or threats thereof) and/or their families, and bringing offenders to
the bar of justice. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights stressed
the importance of investigation in the Velasquez Rodriguez Case, viz:
(The duty to investigate) must be undertaken in
a serious manner and not as a mere formality
preordained to be ineffective. An investigation must have
an objective and be assumed by the State as its own legal
duty, not as a step taken by private interests that
depends upon the initiative of the victim or his family or
upon their offer of proof, without an effective search for
the truth by the government. [Emphasis supplied]

Manalo significantly cited Kurt v. Turkey,[140] where the ECHR interpreted the
right to security not only as a prohibition on the State against arbitrary
deprivation of liberty, but also as the imposition of a positive duty to afford
protection to the right to liberty. The Court notably quoted the following ECHR
ruling:

[A]ny deprivation of liberty must not only have been effected in


conformity with the substantive and procedural rules of national law
but must equally be in keeping with the very purpose of Article 5,
namely to protect the individual from arbitrariness... Having assumed
control over that individual, it is incumbent on the authorities to
account for his or her whereabouts. For this reason, Article 5 must be
seen as requiring the authorities to take effective measures to
safeguard against the risk of disappearance and to conduct a prompt
effective investigation into an arguable claim that a person has been
taken into custody and has not been seen since. [Emphasis supplied]

These rulings effectively serve as the backdrop for the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo, which the Court made effective on October 24, 2007. Although
the Amparo Rule still has gaps waiting to be filled through substantive law, as
evidenced primarily by the lack of a concrete definition of enforced
disappearance, the materials cited above, among others, provide ample
guidance and standards on how, through the medium of the Amparo Rule, the
Court can provide remedies and protect the constitutional rights to life,
liberty and security that underlie every enforced disappearance.
Evidentiary Difficulties Posed
by the Unique Nature of an
Enforced Disappearance
Before going into the issue of whether the respondent has discharged the
burden of proving the allegations of the petition for the Writ of Amparo by the
degree of proof required by the Amparo Rule, we shall discuss briefly the unique
evidentiary difficulties presented by enforced disappearance cases; these
difficulties form part of the setting that the implementation of the Amparo Rule
shall encounter.
These difficulties largely arise because the State itself the party whose
involvement is alleged investigates enforced disappearances. Past experiences in
other jurisdictions show that the evidentiary difficulties are generally threefold.
First, there may be a deliberate concealment of the identities of the direct
perpetrators.[141] Experts note that abductors are well organized, armed and
usually members of the military or police forces, thus:
The victim is generally arrested by the security forces or by persons
acting under some form of governmental authority. In many countries
the units that plan, implement and execute the program are generally
specialized, highly-secret bodies within the armed or security forces.
They are generally directed through a separate, clandestine chain of

command, but they have the necessary credentials to avoid or prevent


any interference by the "legal" police forces. These authorities take
their victims to secret detention centers where they subject them to
interrogation and torture without fear of judicial or other controls.[142]

In addition, there are usually no witnesses to the crime; if there are, these
witnesses are usually afraid to speak out publicly or to testify on the disappearance
out of fear for their own lives.[143] We have had occasion to note this difficulty
in Secretary of Defense v. Manalo[144] when we acknowledged that where
powerful military officers are implicated, the hesitation of witnesses to surface and
testify against them comes as no surprise.
Second, deliberate concealment of pertinent evidence of the
disappearance is a distinct possibility; the central piece of evidence in an
enforced disappearance i.e., the corpus delicti or the victims body is usually
concealed to effectively thwart the start of any investigation or the progress of
one that may have begun.[145] The problem for the victims family is the States
virtual monopoly of access to pertinent evidence. The Inter-American Court of
Human Rights (IACHR) observed in the landmark case of Velasquez
Rodriguez[146] that inherent to the practice of enforced disappearance is the
deliberate use of the States power to destroy the pertinent evidence. The IACHR
described the concealment as a clear attempt by the State to commit the perfect
crime.[147]

Third is the element of denial; in many cases, the State authorities


deliberately
deny
that
the
enforced
disappearance
ever
[148]
occurred.
Deniability is central to the policy of enforced disappearances, as
the absence of any proven disappearance makes it easier to escape the
application of legal standards ensuring the victims human rights.[149] Experience
shows that government officials typically respond to requests for information
about desaparecidos by saying that they are not aware of any disappearance, that
the missing people may have fled the country, or that their names have merely
been invented.[150]

These considerations are alive in our minds, as these are the difficulties we
confront, in one form or another, in our consideration of this case.
Evidence and Burden of Proof in
Enforced Disappearances Cases
Sections 13, 17 and 18 of the Amparo Rule define the nature of
an Amparo proceeding and the degree and burden of proof the parties to the
case carry, as follows:
Section 13. Summary Hearing. The hearing on the petition shall
be summary. However, the court, justice or judge may call for a
preliminary conference to simplify the issues and determine the
possibility of obtaining stipulations and admissions from the parties.
xxxx
Section 17. Burden of Proof and Standard of Diligence Required. The
parties shall establish their claims by substantial evidence.
The respondent who is a private individual must prove that
ordinary diligence as required by applicable laws, rules and regulations
was observed in the performance of duty.
The respondent who is a public official or employee must prove
that extraordinary diligence as required by applicable laws, rules and
regulations was observed in the performance of duty.
The respondent public official or employee cannot invoke the
presumption that official duty has been regularly performed or evade
responsibility or liability.
Section 18. Judgment. If the allegations in the petition are proven
by substantial evidence, the court shall grant the privilege of the
writ and such reliefs as may be proper and appropriate; otherwise, the
privilege shall be denied. [Emphasis supplied]

These characteristics namely, of being summary and the use of substantial


evidence as the required level of proof (in contrast to the usual preponderance of
evidence or proof beyond reasonable doubt in court proceedings) reveal the clear
intent of the framers of the Amparo Rule to have the equivalent of an
administrative
proceeding,
albeit
judicially
conducted,
in
addressing Amparo situations. The standard of diligence required the duty of
public officials and employees to observe extraordinary diligence point, too, to
the extraordinary measures expected in the protection of constitutional rights and
in the consequent handling and investigation of extra-judicial killings and enforced
disappearance cases.
Thus, in these proceedings, the Amparo petitioner needs only to properly
comply with the substance and form requirements of a Writ of Amparo petition, as
discussed above, and prove the allegations by substantial evidence. Once a
rebuttable case has been proven, the respondents must then respond and prove their
defenses based on the standard of diligence required. The rebuttable case, of
course, must show that an enforced disappearance took place under circumstances
showing a violation of the victims constitutional rights to life, liberty or security,
and the failure on the part of the investigating authorities to appropriately respond.
The landmark case of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations[151] provided
the Court its first opportunity to define the substantial evidence required to arrive
at a valid decision in administrative proceedings. To directly quote Ang Tibay:
Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support
a conclusion. [citations omitted] The statute provides that the rules of evidence
prevailing in courts of law and equity shall not be controlling. The obvious
purpose of this and similar provisions is to free administrative boards from the
compulsion of technical rules so that the mere admission of matter which would
be deemed incompetent in judicial proceedings would not invalidate the
administrative order. [citations omitted] But this assurance of a desirable
flexibility in administrative procedure does not go so far as to justify orders
without a basis in evidence having rational probative force. [Emphasis supplied]

In Secretary of Defense v. Manalo,[152] which was the Courts first petition


for a Writ of Amparo, we recognized that the full and exhaustive proceedings that
the substantial evidence standard regularly requires do not need to apply due to the
summary nature of Amparo proceedings. We said:
The remedy [of the writ of amparo] provides rapid judicial relief as it
partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only substantial evidence to make
the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is not an action to determine
criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages
requiring preponderance of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring
substantial
evidence
that
will
require
full
and
exhaustive
proceedings.[Emphasis supplied]

Not to be forgotten in considering the evidentiary aspects


of Amparo petitions are the unique difficulties presented by the nature of enforced
disappearances, heretofore discussed, which difficulties this Court must frontally
meet if the Amparo Rule is to be given a chance to achieve its objectives. These
evidentiary difficulties compel the Court to adopt standards appropriate and
responsive to the circumstances, without transgressing the due process
requirements that underlie every proceeding.
In the seminal case of Velasquez Rodriguez,[153] the IACHR faced with a
lack of direct evidence that the government of Honduras was involved in
Velasquez Rodriguez disappearance adopted a relaxed and informal evidentiary
standard, and established the rule that presumes governmental responsibility for a
disappearance if it can be proven that the government carries out a general practice
of enforced disappearances and the specific case can be linked to that
practice.[154] The IACHR took note of the realistic fact that enforced
disappearances could be proven only through circumstantial or indirect evidence
or by logical inference; otherwise, it was impossible to prove that an individual
had been made to disappear. It held:
130. The practice of international and domestic courts shows that direct
evidence, whether testimonial or documentary, is not the only type of
evidence that may be legitimately considered in reaching a
decision. Circumstantial evidence, indicia, and presumptions may be

considered, so long as they lead to conclusions consistent with the


facts.
131. Circumstantial or presumptive evidence is especially important in
allegations of disappearances, because this type of repression is
characterized by an attempt to suppress all information about the
kidnapping or the whereabouts and fate of the victim. [Emphasis
supplied]

In concluding that the disappearance of Manfredo Velsquez (Manfredo)


was carried out by agents who acted under cover of public authority, the IACHR
relied on circumstantial evidence including the hearsay testimony of Zenaida
Velsquez, the victims sister, who described Manfredos kidnapping on the basis
of conversations she had with witnesses who saw Manfredo kidnapped by men in
civilian clothes in broad daylight. She also told the Court that a former Honduran
military official had announced that Manfredo was kidnapped by a special military
squadron acting under orders of the Chief of the Armed Forces.[155] The IACHR
likewise considered the hearsay testimony of a second witness who asserted that
he had been told by a Honduran military officer about the disappearance, and a
third witness who testified that he had spoken in prison to a man who identified
himself as Manfredo.[156]

Velasquez stresses the lesson that flexibility is necessary under the unique
circumstances that enforced disappearance cases pose to the courts; to have an
effective remedy, the standard of evidence must be responsive to the evidentiary
difficulties faced. On the one hand, we cannot be arbitrary in the admission and
appreciation of evidence, as arbitrariness entails violation of rights and cannot be
used as an effective counter-measure; we only compound the problem if a wrong
is addressed by the commission of another wrong. On the other hand, we cannot
be very strict in our evidentiary rules and cannot consider evidence the way we
do in the usual criminal and civil cases; precisely, the proceedings before us are
administrative in nature where, as a rule, technical rules of evidence are not
strictly observed. Thus, while we must follow the substantial evidence rule, we
must observe flexibility in considering the evidence we shall take into account.

The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to consider all the pieces of evidence
adduced in their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible
under our usual rules to be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible
evidence adduced. In other words, we reduce our rules to the most basic test of
reason i.e., to the relevance of the evidence to the issue at hand and its
consistency with all other pieces of adduced evidence. Thus, even hearsay
evidence can be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum test.

We note in this regard that the use of flexibility in the consideration of


evidence is not at all novel in the Philippine legal system. In child abuse cases,
Section 28 of the Rule on Examination of a Child Witness[157]is expressly
recognized as an exception to the hearsay rule. This Rule allows the admission of
the hearsay testimony of a child describing any act or attempted act of sexual abuse
in any criminal or non-criminal proceeding, subject to certain prerequisites and the
right of cross-examination by the adverse party. The admission of the statement is
determined by the court in light of specified subjective and objective
considerations that provide sufficient indicia of reliability of the child
witness.[158] These requisites for admission find their counterpart in the present
case under the above-described conditions for the exercise of flexibility in the
consideration of evidence, including hearsay evidence, in extrajudicial killings and
enforced disappearance cases.
Assessment of the Evidence
The threshold question for our resolution is: was there an enforced
disappearance within the meaning of this term under the UN Declaration we have
cited?
The Convention defines enforced disappearance as the arrest, detention,
abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by
persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence
of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by

concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place


such a person outside the protection of the law.[159] Under this definition, the
elements that constitute enforced disappearance are essentially fourfold:[160]
(a) arrest, detention, abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty;
(b) carried out by agents of the State or persons or groups of persons acting
with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State;
(c) followed by a refusal to acknowledge the detention, or a concealment of the
fate of the disappeared person; and
(d) placement of the disappeared person outside the protection of the law.
[Emphasis supplied]

We find no direct evidence indicating how the victim actually


disappeared. The direct evidence at hand only shows that Tagitis went out of the
ASY Pension House after depositing his room key with the hotel desk and was
never seen nor heard of again. The undisputed conclusion, however, from all
concerned the petitioner, Tagitis colleagues and even the police authorities is
that Tagistis disappeared under mysterious circumstances and was never seen
again. The respondent injected the causal element in her petition and testimony, as
we shall discuss below.
We likewise find no direct evidence showing that operatives of PNP CIDG
Zamboanga abducted or arrested Tagitis. If at all, only the respondents allegation
that Tagistis was under CIDG Zamboanga custody stands on record, but it is not
supported by any other evidence, direct or circumstantial.
In her direct testimony, the respondent pointed to two sources of information
as her bases for her allegation that Tagistis had been placed under government
custody (in contrast with CIDG Zamboanga custody). The first was an unnamed
friend in Zamboanga (later identified as Col. Ancanan), who occupied a high
position in the military and who allegedly mentioned that Tagitis was in good
hands. Nothing came out of this claim, as both the respondent herself and her
witness, Mrs. Talbin, failed to establish that Col. Ancanan gave them any
information that Tagitis was in government custody. Col. Ancanan, for his part,

admitted the meeting with the respondent but denied giving her any information
about the disappearance.
The more specific and productive source of information was Col.
Kasim, whom the respondent, together with her witness Mrs. Talbin, met in Camp
Katitipan in Davao City. To quote the relevant portions of the respondents
testimony:
Q:

Were you able to speak to other military officials regarding the


whereabouts of your husband particularly those in charge of any
records or investigation?

A:

I went to Camp Katitipan in Davao City. Then one military officer,


Col. Casim, told me that my husband is being abducted
[sic] because he is under custodial investigation because he is
allegedly parang liason ng J.I., sir.

Q:

What is J.I.?

A:

Jemaah Islamiah, sir.

Q:

Was there any information that was read to you during one of
those visits of yours in that Camp?

A:

Col. Casim did not furnish me a copy of his report because he


said those reports are highly confidential, sir.

Q:

Was it read to you then even though you were not furnished a
copy?

A:

Yes, sir. In front of us, my friends.

Q:

And what was the content of that highly confidential report?

A:

Those alleged activities of Engineer Tagitis, sir.[161] [Emphasis supplied]

She confirmed this testimony in her cross-examination:


Q:

You also mentioned that you went to Camp Katitipan in Davao


City?

A:

Yes, maam.

Q:

And a certain Col. Kasim told you that your husband was
abducted and under custodial investigation?

A:

Yes, maam.

Q:

And you mentioned that he showed you a report?

A:

Yes, maam.

Q:

Were you able to read the contents of that report?

A:

He did not furnish me a copy of those [sic] report because those


[sic] were highly confidential. That is a military report, maam.

Q:

But you were able to read the contents?

A:

No. But he read it in front of us, my friends, maam.

Q:

How many were you when you went to see Col. Kasim?

A:

There were three of us, maam.

Q:

Who were your companions?

A:

Mrs. Talbin, tapos yung dalawang friends nya from Mati City,
Davao Oriental, maam.[162]

Q:

When you were told that your husband is in good hands, what
was your reaction and what did you do?

A:

May binasa kasi sya that my husband has a parang meeting


with other people na parang mga terorista na mga
tao. Tapos at the end of the report is [sic] under custodial
investigation. So I told him Colonel, my husband is sick. He is
diabetic at nagmemaintain yun ng gamot. Pakisabi lang sa
naghohold sa asawa ko na bigyan siya ng gamot, maam.[163]

xxxx

Q:

You mentioned that you received information that Engineer


Tagitis is being held by the CIDG in Zamboanga, did you go to
CIDG Zamboanga to verify that information?

A:

I did not go to CIDG Zamboanga. I went to Camp Karingal


instead. Enough na yun na effort ko because I know that they
would deny it, maam.[164]

On February 11, 2008, the respondent presented Mrs. Talbin to corroborate


her testimony that her husband was abducted and held under custodial
investigation by the PNP-CIDG Zamboanga City, viz:

Q:

You said that you went to Camp Katitipan in Davao City


sometime November 24, 2007, who was with you when you went
there?

A:

Mary Jean Tagitis, sir.

Q:

Only the two of you?

A:

No. We have some other companions. We were four at that time, sir.

Q:

Who were they?

A:

Salvacion Serrano, Mini Leong, Mrs. Tagitis and me, sir.

Q:

Were you able to talk, see some other officials at Camp Katitipan
during that time?

A:

Col. Kasim (PS Supt. Julasirim Ahadin Kasim) only, sir.

Q:

Were you able to talk to him?

A:

Yes, sir.

Q:

The four of you?

A:

Yes, sir.

Q:

What information did you get from Col. Kasim during that time?

A:

The first time we met with [him] I asked him if he knew of the
exact location, if he can furnish us the location of Engr.
Tagitis. And he was reading this report. He told us that Engr.
Tagitis is in good hands. He is with the military, but he is not
certain whether he is with the AFP or PNP. He has this serious
case. He was charged of terrorism because he was under
surveillance from January 2007 up to the time that he was
abducted. He told us that he was under custodial
investigation. As Ive said earlier, he was seen under
surveillance from January. He was seen talking to Omar Patik, a
certain Santos of Bulacan who is also a Balik Islam and charged
with terrorism. He was seen carrying boxes of medicines. Then
we asked him how long will he be in custodial investigation. He
said until we can get some information. But he also told us that
he cannot give us that report because it was a raw report. It was
not official, sir.

Q:

You said that he was reading a report, was that report in


document form, in a piece of paper or was it in the computer or
what?

A:

As far as I can see it, sir, it is written in white bond paper. I dont
know if it was computerized but Im certain that it was
typewritten. Im not sure if it used computer, fax or what, sir.

Q:

When he was reading it to you, was he reading it line by line or


he was reading in a summary form?

A:

Sometimes he was glancing to the report and talking to us, sir.[165]

x
Q:

Were you informed as to the place where he was being kept


during that time?

A:

He did not tell us where he [Tagitis] was being kept. But he


mentioned this Talipapao, Sulu, sir.

Q:

After that incident, what did you do if any?

A:

We just left and as Ive mentioned, we just waited because that


raw information that he was reading to us [sic] after the custodial
investigation, Engineer Tagitis will be released. [Emphasis
supplied][166]

Col. Kasim never denied that he met with the respondent and her friends,
and that he provided them information based on the input of an unnamed asset. He
simply claimed in his testimony that the informal letter he received from his
informant in Sulu did not indicate that Tagitis was in the custody of the CIDG. He
also stressed that the information he provided the respondent was merely a raw
report from barangayintelligence that still needed confirmation and follow up
as to its veracity.[167]
To be sure, the respondents and Mrs. Talbins testimonies were far from
perfect, as the petitioners pointed out. The respondent mistakenly characterized
Col. Kasim as a military officer who told her that her husband is being abducted

because he is under custodial investigation because he is allegedly parang liason


ng J.I. The petitioners also noted that Mrs. Talbins testimony imputing certain
statements to Sr. Supt. Kasim that Engr. Tagitis is with the military, but he is not
certain whether it is the PNP or AFP is not worthy of belief, since Sr. Supt. Kasim
is a high ranking police officer who would certainly know that the PNP is not part
of the military.
Upon deeper consideration of these inconsistencies, however, what appears
clear to us is that the petitioners never really steadfastly disputed or presented
evidence to refute the credibility of the respondent and her witness, Mrs.
Talbin. The inconsistencies the petitioners point out relate, more than anything
else, to details that should not affect the credibility of the respondent and Mrs.
Talbin; the inconsistencies are not on material points.[168] We note, for example,
that these witnesses are lay people in so far as military and police matters are
concerned, and confusion between the police and the military is not unusual. As a
rule, minor inconsistencies such as these indicate truthfulness rather than
prevarication[169]and only tend to strengthen their probative value, in contrast to
testimonies from various witnesses dovetailing on every detail; the latter cannot
but generate suspicion that the material circumstances they testified to were
integral parts of a well thought of and prefabricated story.[170]
Based on these considerations and the unique evidentiary situation in
enforced disappearance cases, we hold it duly established that Col. Kasim
informed the respondent and her friends, based on the informants letter, that
Tagitis, reputedly a liaison for the JI and who had been under surveillance
since January 2007, was in good hands and under custodial investigation
for complicity with the JI after he was seen talking to one Omar Patik and a
certain Santos of Bulacan, a Balik Islam charged with terrorism. The
respondents and Mrs. Talbins testimonies cannot simply be defeated by Col.
Kasims plain denial and his claim that he had destroyed his informants letter, the
critical piece of evidence that supports or negates the parties conflicting claims.
Col. Kasims admitted destruction of this letter effectively, a suppression of this
evidence raises the presumption that the letter, if produced, would be proof of

what the respondent claimed.[171] For brevity, we shall call the evidence of what
Col. Kasim reported to the respondent to be the Kasim evidence.
Given this evidence, our next step is to decide whether we can accept this
evidence, in lieu of direct evidence, as proof that the disappearance of Tagitis was
due to action with government participation, knowledge or consent and that he was
held for custodial investigation. We note in this regard that Col. Kasim was never
quoted to have said that the custodial investigation was by the CIDG
Zamboanga. The Kasim evidence only implies government intervention through
the use of the term custodial investigation, and does not at all point to CIDG
Zamboanga as Tagitis custodian.
Strictly speaking, we are faced here with a classic case of hearsay evidence
i.e., evidence whose probative value is not based on the personal knowledge of the
witnesses (the respondent, Mrs. Talbin and Col. Kasim himself) but on the
knowledge of some other person not on the witness stand (the informant).[172]
To say that this piece of evidence is incompetent and inadmissible evidence
of what it substantively states is to acknowledge as the petitioners effectively
suggest that in the absence of any direct evidence, we should simply dismiss the
petition. To our mind, an immediate dismissal for this reason is no different from a
statement that the Amparo Rule despite its terms is ineffective, as it cannot
allow for the special evidentiary difficulties that are unavoidably present
in Amparo situations, particularly in extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances. The Amparo Rule was not promulgated with this intent or with the
intent to make it a token gesture of concern for constitutional rights. It was
promulgated to provide effective and timely remedies, using and profiting from
local and international experiences in extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances, as the situation may require. Consequently, we have no choice but
to meet the evidentiary difficulties inherent in enforced disappearances with the
flexibility that these difficulties demand.
To give full meaning to our Constitution and the rights it protects, we hold
that, as in Velasquez, we should at least take a close look at the available evidence

to determine the correct import of every piece of evidence even of those usually
considered inadmissible under the general rules of evidence taking into account
the surrounding circumstances and the test of reason that we can use as basic
minimum admissibility requirement. In the present case, we should at least
determine whether the Kasim evidence before us is relevant and meaningful to the
disappearance of Tagistis and reasonably consistent with other evidence in the
case.
The evidence about Tagitis personal circumstances surrounded him with an
air of mystery. He was reputedly a consultant of the World Bank and a Senior
Honorary Counselor for the IDB who attended a seminar in Zamboanga and
thereafter proceded to Jolo for an overnight stay, indicated by his request to
Kunnong for the purchase of a return ticket to Zamboanga the day after he arrived
in Jolo. Nothing in the records indicates the purpose of his overnight sojourn in
Jolo. A colleague in the IDB, Prof. Matli, early on informed the Jolo police that
Tagitis may have taken funds given to him in trust for IDB scholars. Prof Matli
later on stated that he never accused Tagitis of taking away money held in trust,
although he confirmed that the IDB was seeking assistance in locating funds of
IDB scholars deposited in Tagitis personal account. Other than these pieces of
evidence, no other information exists in the records relating to the personal
circumstances of Tagitis.
The actual disappearance of Tagitis is as murky as his personal
circumstances. While the Amparo petition recited that he was taken away by
burly men believed to be police intelligence operatives, no evidence whatsoever
was introduced to support this allegation. Thus, the available direct evidence is
that Tagitis was last seen at 12.30 p.m. of October 30, 2007 the day he arrived in
Jolo and was never seen again.
The Kasim evidence assumes critical materiality given the dearth of direct
evidence on the above aspects of the case, as it supplies the gaps that were never
looked into and clarified by police investigation. It is the evidence, too, that colors
a simple missing person report into an enforced disappearance case, as it injects the

element of participation by agents of the State and thus brings into question how
the State reacted to the disappearance.
Denials on the part of the police authorities, and frustration on the part of the
respondent, characterize the attempts to locate Tagitis. Initially in Jolo, the police
informed Kunnong that Tagitis could have been taken by the Abu Sayyaf or other
groups fighting the government. No evidence was ever offered on whether there
was active Jolo police investigation and how and why the Jolo police arrived at
this conclusion. The respondents own inquiry in Jolo yielded the answer that he
was not missing but was with another woman somewhere. Again, no evidence
exists that this explanation was arrived at based on an investigation. As already
related above, the inquiry with Col. Ancanan in Zamboanga yielded ambivalent
results not useful for evidentiary purposes. Thus, it was only the inquiry from Col.
Kasim that yielded positive results. Col. Kasims story, however, confirmed only
the fact of his custodial investigation (and, impliedly, his arrest or abduction),
without identifying his abductor/s or the party holding him in custody. The more
significant part of Col. Kasims story is that the abduction came after Tagitis was
seen talking with Omar Patik and a certain Santos of Bulacan, a Balik Islam
charged with terrorism. Mrs. Talbin mentioned, too, that Tagitis was being held at
Talipapao, Sulu. None of the police agencies participating in the investigation ever
pursued these leads. Notably, TASK FORCE TAGITIS to which this information
was relayed did not appear to have lifted a finger to pursue these aspects of the
case.
More denials were manifested in the Returns on the writ to the CA made by
the petitioners. Then PNP Chief Gen. Avelino I. Razon merely reported the
directives he sent to the ARMM Regional Director and the Regional Chief of the
CIDG on Tagitis, and these reports merely reiterated the open-ended initial report
of the disappearance. The CIDG directed a search in all of its divisions with
negative results. These, to the PNP Chief, constituted the exhaustion of all
possible efforts. PNP-CIDG Chief General Edgardo M. Doromal, for his part,
also reported negative results after searching all divisions and departments [of the
CIDG] for a person named Engr. Morced N. Tagitis . . . and after a diligent and
thorough research, records show that no such person is being detained in the CIDG

or any of its department or divisions. PNP-PACER Chief PS Supt. Leonardo A.


Espina and PNP PRO ARMM Regional Director PC Superintendent Joel R.
Goltiao did no better in their affidavits-returns, as they essentially reported the
results of their directives to their units to search for Tagitis.
The extent to which the police authorities acted was fully tested when the
CA constituted TASK FORCE TAGITIS, with specific directives on what to
do. The negative results reflected in the Returns on the writ were again replicated
during the three hearings the CA scheduled. Aside from the previously mentioned
retraction that Prof. Matli made to correct his accusation that Tagitis took money
held in trust for students, PS Supt. Ajirim reiterated in his testimony that the CIDG
consistently denied any knowledge or complicity in any abduction and said that
there was no basis to conclude that the CIDG or any police unit had anything to do
with the disappearance of Tagitis; he likewise considered it premature to conclude
that Tagitis simply ran away with the money in his custody. As already noted
above, the TASK FORCE notably did not pursue any investigation about the
personal circumstances of Tagitis, his background in relation to the IDB and the
background and activities of this Bank itself, and the reported sighting of Tagistis
with terrorists and his alleged custody in Talipapao, Sulu. No attempt appears to
have ever been made to look into the alleged IDB funds that Tagitis held in trust,
or to tap any of the assets who are indispensable in investigations of this nature.
These omissions and negative results were aggravated by the CA findings that it
was only as late as January 28, 2008 or three months after the disappearance that
the police authorities requested for clear pictures of Tagitis. Col. Kasim could not
attend the trial because his subpoena was not served, despite the fact that he was
designated as Ajirims replacement in the latters last post. Thus, Col. Kasim was
not then questioned. No investigation even an internal one appeared to have
been made to inquire into the identity of Col. Kasims asset and what he indeed
wrote.
We glean from all these pieces of evidence and developments a
consistency in the governments denial of any complicity in the disappearance
of Tagitis, disrupted only by the report made by Col. Kasim to the respondent
at Camp Katitipan. Even Col. Kasim, however, eventually denied that he ever

made the disclosure that Tagitis was under custodial investigation for complicity in
terrorism. Another distinctive trait that runs through these developments is
the governments dismissive approach to the disappearance, starting from the
initial response by the Jolo police to Kunnongs initial reports of the
disappearance, to the responses made to the respondent when she herself reported
and inquired about her husbands disappearance, and even at TASK FORCE
TAGITIS itself.
As the CA found through TASK FORCE TAGITIS, the investigation was at
best haphazard since the authorities were looking for a man whose picture they
initially did not even secure. The returns and reports made to the CA fared no
better, as the CIDG efforts themselves were confined to searching for custodial
records of Tagitis in their various departments and divisions. To point out the
obvious, if the abduction of Tagitis was a black operation because it was
unrecorded or officially unauthorized, no record of custody would ever appear in
the CIDG records; Tagitis, too, would not be detained in the usual police or CIDG
detention places. In sum, none of the reports on record contains any
meaningful results or details on the depth and extent of the investigation
made. To be sure, reports of top police officials indicating the personnel and units
they directed to investigate can never constitute exhaustive and meaningful
investigation, or equal detailed investigative reports of the activities undertaken to
search for Tagitis. Indisputably, the police authorities from the very beginning
failed to come up to the extraordinary diligence that the Amparo Rule requires.

CONCLUSIONS AND THE AMPARO REMEDY


Based on these considerations, we conclude that Col. Kasims disclosure,
made in an unguarded moment, unequivocally point to some government
complicity in the disappearance. The consistent but unfounded denials and the
haphazard investigations cannot but point to this conclusion. For why would the
government and its officials engage in their chorus of concealment if the intent had
not been to deny what they already knew of the disappearance? Would not an indepth and thorough investigation that at least credibly determined the fate of

Tagitis be a feather in the governments cap under the circumstances of the


disappearance? From this perspective, the evidence and developments, particularly
the Kasim evidence, already establish a concrete case of enforced disappearance
that the Amparo Rule covers. From the prism of the UN Declaration, heretofore
cited and quoted,[173] the evidence at hand and the developments in this case
confirm the fact of the enforced disappearance and government complicity, under a
background of consistent and unfounded government denials and haphazard
handling. The disappearance as well effectively placed Tagitis outside the
protection of the law a situation that will subsist unless this Court acts.
This kind of fact situation and the conclusion reached are not without
precedent in international enforced disappearance rulings. While the facts are not
exactly the same, the facts of this case run very close to those of Timurtas v.
Turkey,[174] a case decided by ECHR. The European tribunal in that case acted on
the basis of the photocopy of a post-operation report in finding that Abdulvahap
Timurtas (Abdulvahap) was abducted and later detained by agents (gendarmes) of
the government of Turkey. The victim's father in this case brought a claim against
Turkey for numerous violations of the European Convention, including the right to
life (Article 2) and the rights to liberty and security of a person (Article 5). The
applicant contended that on August 14, 1993, gendarmes apprehended his son,
Abdulvahap for being a leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in the Silopi
region. The petition was filed in southeast Turkey nearly six and one half years
after the apprehension. According to the father, gendarmes first detained
Abdulvahap and then transferred him to another detainment facility. Although
there was no eyewitness evidence of the apprehension or subsequent
detainment, the applicant presented evidence corroborating his version of
events, including a photocopy of a post-operation report signed by the
commander of gendarme operations in Silopi, Turkey. The report included a
description of Abdulvahap's arrest and the result of a subsequent interrogation
during detention where he was accused of being a leader of the PKK in the Silopi
region. On this basis, Turkey was held responsible for Abdulvahaps enforced
disappearance.

Following the lead of this Turkish experience - adjusted to the


Philippine legal setting and the Amparo remedy this Court has established, as
applied to the unique facts and developments of this case we believe and so
hold that the government in general, through the PNP and the PNP-CIDG,
and in particular, the Chiefs of these organizations together with Col. Kasim,
should be held fully accountable for the enforced disappearance of Tagitis.
The PNP and CIDG are accountable because Section 24 of Republic Act No.
6975, otherwise known as the PNP Law,[175] specifies the PNP as the
governmental office with the mandate to investigate and prevent crimes, effect
the arrest of criminal offenders, bring offenders to justice and assist in their
prosecution. The PNP-CIDG, as Col. Jose Volpane Pante (then Chief of CIDG
Region 9) testified, is the investigative arm of the PNP and is mandated to
investigate and prosecute all cases involving violations of the Revised Penal
Code, particularly those considered as heinous crimes.[176] Under the PNP
organizational structure, the PNP-CIDG is tasked to investigate all major crimes
involving violations of the Revised Penal Code and operates against organized
crime groups, unless the President assigns the case exclusively to the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI).[177] No indication exists in this case showing that
the President ever directly intervened by assigning the investigation of Tagitis
disappearance exclusively to the NBI.
Given their mandates, the PNP and PNP-CIDG officials and members were
the ones who were remiss in their duties when the government completely failed to
exercise the extral'>To fully enforce the Amparoremedy, we refer this case back to
the CA for appropriate proceedings directed at the monitoring of the PNP and the
PNP-CIDG investigations and actions, and the validation of their results through
hearings the CA may deem appropriate to conduct. For purposes of these
investigations, the PNP/PNP-CIDG shall initially present to the CA a plan of
action for further investigation, periodically reporting the detailed results of its
investigation to the CA for its consideration and action. On behalf of this Court,
the CA shall pass upon: the need for the PNP and the PNP-CIDG to make
disclosures of matters known to them as indicated in this Decision and as further
CA hearings may indicate; the petitioners submissions; the sufficiency of their

investigative efforts; and submit to this Court a quarterly report containing its
actions and recommendations, copy furnished the petitioners and the respondent,
with the first report due at the end of the first quarter counted from the finality of
this Decision. The PNP and the PNP-CIDG shall have one (1) full year to
undertake their investigation. The CA shall submit its full report for the
consideration of this Court at the end of the 4th quarter counted from the finality of
this Decision.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petitioners petition
for review on certiorari for lack of merit, and AFFIRM the decision of the Court
of Appeals dated March 7, 2008 under the following terms:
a.

b.

c.
d.

e.

f.

Recognition that the disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis is


an enforced disappearance covered by the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo;
Without any specific pronouncement on exact authorship and
responsibility, declaring the government (through the PNP and the
PNP-CIDG) and Colonel Julasirim Ahadin Kasim accountable for the
enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis;
Confirmation of the validity of the Writ of Amparo the Court of
Appeals issued;
Holding the PNP, through the PNP Chief, and the PNP-CIDG,
through its Chief, directly responsible for the disclosure of material
facts known to the government and to their offices regarding the
disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis, and for the conduct of
proper investigations using extraordinary diligence, with the
obligation to show investigation results acceptable to this Court;
Ordering Colonel Julasirim Ahadin Kasim impleaded in this case and
holding him accountable with the obligation to disclose information
known to him and to his assets in relation with the enforced
disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis;
Referring this case back to the Court of Appeals for appropriate
proceedings directed at the monitoring of the PNP and PNP-CIDG
investigations, actions and the validation of their results; the PNP and

g.

h.

the PNP-CIDG shall initially present to the Court of Appeals a plan of


action for further investigation, periodically reporting their results to
the Court of Appeals for consideration and action;
Requiring the Court of Appeals to submit to this Court a quarterly
report with its recommendations, copy furnished the incumbent PNP
and PNP-CIDG Chiefs as petitioners and the respondent, with the first
report due at the end of the first quarter counted from the finality of
this Decision;
The PNP and the PNP-CIDG shall have one (1) full year to undertake
their investigations; the Court of Appeals shall submit its full report
for the consideration of this Court at the end of the 4 th quarter counted
from the finality of this Decision;

These directives and those of the Court of Appeals made pursuant to this
Decision shall be given to, and shall be directly enforceable against, whoever may
be the incumbent Chiefs of the Philippine National Police and its Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group, under pain of contempt from this Court when
the initiatives and efforts at disclosure and investigation constitute less than the
extraordinary diligence that the Rule on the Writ of Amparo and the circumstances
of this case demand. Given the unique nature of Amparo cases and their varying
attendant circumstances, these directives particularly, the referral back to and
monitoring by the CA are specific to this case and are not standard remedies that
can be applied to every Amparo situation.
The dismissal of the Amparo petition with respect to General Alexander
Yano, Commanding General, Philippine Army, and General Ruben Rafael, Chief,
Anti-Terrorism Task Force Comet, Zamboanga City, is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

LOURDES D. RUBRICO, JEAN


RUBRICO APRUEBO, and MARY JOY
RUBRICO CARBONEL,
Petitioners,
- versus -

G.R. No. 183871

Present:

PUNO, C.J.,

GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GEN.


HERMOGENES ESPERON, P/DIR.
GEN. AVELINO RAZON, MAJ.
DARWIN SY a.k.a. DARWIN REYES,
JIMMY SANTANA, RUBEN ALFARO,
CAPT. ANGELO CUARESMA, a certain
JONATHAN, P/SUPT. EDGAR B.
ROQUERO, ARSENIO C. GOMEZ, and
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN,
Respondents.

CARPIO,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,*
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:

February 18, 2010


x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

In this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court in relation to
Section 19[1] of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo[2] (Amparo Rule), Lourdes D.
Rubrico, Jean Rubrico Apruebo, and Mary Joy Rubrico Carbonel assail and seek to
set aside the Decision[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated July 31, 2008 in CAG.R. SP No. 00003, a petition commenced under the Amparo Rule.

The petition for the writ of amparo dated October 25, 2007 was originally
filed before this Court. After issuing the desired writ and directing the
respondents to file a verified written return, the Court referred the petition to the
CA for summary hearing and appropriate action. The petition and its attachments
contained, in substance, the following allegations:

1. On April 3, 2007, armed men belonging to the 301 st Air


Intelligence and Security Squadron (AISS, for short) based in Fernando
Air Base in Lipa City abducted Lourdes D. Rubrico (Lourdes), then
attending a Lenten pabasa in Bagong Bayan, Dasmarias, Cavite, and
brought to, and detained at, the air base without charges. Following a
week of relentless interrogation - conducted alternately by hooded
individuals - and what amounts to verbal abuse and mental harassment,
Lourdes, chair of the Ugnayan ng Maralita para sa Gawa Adhikan, was
released at Dasmarias, Cavite, her hometown, but only after being
made to sign a statement that she would be a military asset.
After Lourdes release, the harassment, coming in the form of
being tailed on at least two occasions at different places, i.e.,
Dasmarias, Cavite and Baclaran in Pasay City, by motorcycle-riding
men in bonnets, continued;
2. During the time Lourdes was missing, P/Sr. Insp. Arsenio
Gomez (P/Insp. Gomez), then sub-station commander of Bagong Bayan,
Dasmarias, Cavite, kept sending text messages to Lourdes daughter,
Mary Joy R. Carbonel (Mary Joy), bringing her to beaches and asking
her questions about Karapatan, an alliance of human rights
organizations. He, however, failed to make an investigation even
after Lourdes disappearance had been made known to him;

3. A week after Lourdes release, another daughter, Jean R.


Apruebo (Jean), was constrained to leave their house because of the
presence of men watching them;

4. Lourdes has filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a criminal


complaint for kidnapping and arbitrary detention and administrative
complaint for gross abuse of authority and grave misconduct against
Capt. Angelo Cuaresma (Cuaresma), Ruben Alfaro (Alfaro), Jimmy
Santana (Santana) and a certain Jonathan, c/o Headquarters 301st AISS,
Fernando Air Base and Maj. Sy/Reyes with address at No. 09

Amsterdam Ext., Merville Subd., Paraaque City, but nothing has


happened; and the threats and harassment incidents have been
reported to the Dasmarias municipal and Cavite provincial police
stations, but nothing eventful resulted from their respective
investigations.

Two of the four witnesses to Lourdes abduction went into hiding


after being visited by government agents in civilian clothes; and

5. Karapatan conducted an investigation on the incidents. The


investigation would indicate that men belonging to the Armed Forces of
the Philippines (AFP), namely Capt. Cuaresma of the Philippine Air Force
(PAF), Alfaro, Santana, Jonathan and Maj. Darwin Sy/Reyes, led the
abduction of Lourdes; that unknown to the abductors, Lourdes was able
to pilfer a mission order which was addressed to CA Ruben Alfaro and
signed by Capt. Cuaresma of the PAF.

The petition prayed that a writ of amparo issue, ordering the individual
respondents to desist from performing any threatening act against the security of
the petitioners and for the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) to immediately file
an information for kidnapping qualified with the aggravating circumstance of
gender of the offended party. It also prayed for damages and for respondents to
produce documents submitted to any of them on the case of Lourdes.

Before the CA, respondents President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Gen.


Hermogenes Esperon, then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff,
Police Director-General (P/Dir. Gen.) Avelino Razon, then Philippine National
Police (PNP) Chief, Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Roquero of the Cavite Police
Provincial Office, Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Gomez, now retired, and the OMB
(answering respondents, collectively) filed, through the Office of the Solicitor

General (OSG), a joint return on the writ specifically denying the material
inculpatory averments against them. The OSG also denied the allegations against
the following impleaded persons, namely: Cuaresma, Alfaro, Santana, Jonathan,
and Sy/Reyes, for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as
to the allegations truth. And by way of general affirmative defenses, answering
respondents interposed the following defenses: (1) the President may not be sued
during her incumbency; and (2) the petition is incomplete, as it fails to indicate
the matters required by Sec. 5(d) and (e) of the Amparo Rule.[4]

Attached to the return were the affidavits of the following, among other
public officials, containing their respective affirmative defenses and/or
statements of what they had undertaken or committed to undertake regarding
the claimed disappearance of Lourdes and the harassments made to bear on her
and her daughters:

1. Gen. Esperon attested that, pursuant to a directive of then


Secretary of National Defense (SND) Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr., he ordered
the Commanding General of the PAF, with information to all concerned
units, to conduct an investigation to establish the circumstances behind
the disappearance and the reappearance of Lourdes insofar as the
involvement of alleged personnel/unit is concerned. The Provost
Marshall General and the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAGO),
AFP, also undertook a parallel action.

Gen. Esperon manifested his resolve to provide the CA with


material results of the investigation; to continue with the probe on the
alleged abduction of Lourdes and to bring those responsible, including
military personnel, to the bar of justice when warranted by the findings
and the competent evidence that may be gathered in the investigation
process by those mandated to look into the matter;[5]

2. P/Dir. Gen. Razon - stated that an investigation he


immediately ordered upon receiving a copy of the petition is on-going
vis--vis Lourdes abduction, and that a background verification with the
PNP Personnel Accounting and Information System disclosed that the
names Santana, Alfaro, Cuaresma and one Jonathan do not appear in
the police personnel records, although the PNP files carry the name of
Darwin Reyes Y. Muga.

Per the initial investigation report of the Dasmarias municipal


police station, P/Dir. Gen. Razon disclosed, Lourdes was abducted by six
armed men in the afternoon of April 3, 2007 and dragged aboard a
Toyota Revo with plate number XRR 428, which plate was issued for a
Mitsubishi van to AK Cottage Industry with address at 9 Amsterdam St.,
Merville Subd., Paraaque City. The person residing in the apartment
on that given address is one Darius/Erwin See @ Darius Reyes allegedly
working, per the latters house helper, in Camp Aguinaldo.

P/Dir. Gen. Razon, however, bemoaned the fact that Mrs.


Rubrico never contacted nor coordinated with the local police or other
investigating units of the PNP after her release, although she is in the
best position to establish the identity of her abductors and/or provide
positive description through composite sketching. Nonetheless, he
manifested that the PNP is ready to assist and protect the petitioners
and the key witnesses from threats, harassments and intimidation from
whatever source and, at the same time, to assist the Court in the
implementation of its orders.[6]

3. P/Supt. Roquero stated conducting, upon receipt of Lourdes


complaint, an investigation and submitting the corresponding report to
the PNP Calabarzon, observing that neither Lourdes nor her relatives
provided the police with relevant information;

4. P/Insp. Gomez alleged that Lourdes, her kin and witnesses


refused to cooperate with the investigating Cavite PNP; and

5. Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro - alleged that


cases for violation of Articles 267 and 124, or kidnapping and arbitrary
detention, respectively, have been filed with, and are under preliminary
investigation by the OMB against those believed to be involved in
Lourdes kidnapping; that upon receipt of the petition for a writ
of amparo, proper coordination was made with the Office of the
Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and other Law Enforcement
Offices (MOLEO) where the subject criminal and administrative
complaints were filed.

Commenting on the return, petitioners pointed out that the return was no
more than a general denial of averments in the petition. They, thus, pleaded to be
allowed to present evidence ex parte against the President, Santana, Alfaro, Capt.
Cuaresma, Darwin Sy, and Jonathan. And with leave of court, they also asked to
serve notice of the petition through publication, owing to their failure to secure
the current address of the latter five and thus submit, as the CA required, proof of
service of the petition on them.
The hearing started on November 13, 2007.[7] In that setting, petitioners
counsel prayed for the issuance of a temporary protection order (TPO) against the
answering respondents on the basis of the allegations in the petition. At the hearing
of November 20, 2007, the CA granted petitioners motion that the petition and
writ be served by the courts process server on Darwin Sy/Reyes, Santana, Alfaro,
Capt. Cuaresma, and Jonathan.

The legal skirmishes that followed over the propriety of excluding President
Arroyo from the petition, petitioners motions for service by publication, and the
issuance of a TPO are not of decisive pertinence in this recital. The bottom line is
that, by separate resolutions, the CA dropped the President as respondent in the
case; denied the motion for a TPO for the courts want of authority to issue it in
the tenor sought by petitioners; and effectively denied the motion for notice by
publication owing to petitioners failure to submit the affidavit required under
Sec. 17, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court.[8]

After due proceedings, the CA rendered, on July 31, 2008, its partial
judgment, subject of this review, disposing of the petition but only insofar as the
answering respondents were concerned. The fallo of the CA decision reads as
follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, partial judgment is hereby


rendered DISMISSING the instant petition with respect to respondent
Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, P/Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon, Supt. Edgar B.
Roquero, P/Sr. Insp. Arsenio C. Gomez (ret.) and the Office of the
Ombudsman.

Nevertheless, in order that petitioners complaint will not end up


as another unsolved case, the heads of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are directed to ensure
that the investigations already commenced are diligently pursued to
bring the perpetrators to justice. The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines and P/Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon are directed to
regularly update petitioners and this Court on the status of their
investigation.

SO ORDERED.

In this recourse, petitioners formulate the issue for resolution in the


following wise:

WHETHER OR NOT the [CA] committed reversible error in


dismissing [their] Petition and dropping President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo as party respondent.

Petitioners first take issue on the Presidents purported lack of immunity


from suit during her term of office. The 1987 Constitution, so they claim, has
removed such immunity heretofore enjoyed by the chief executive under the 1935
and 1973 Constitutions.
Petitioners are mistaken. The presidential immunity from suit remains
preserved under our system of government, albeit not expressly reserved in the
present constitution. Addressing a concern of his co-members in the 1986
Constitutional Commission on the absence of an express provision on the matter,
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J. observed that it was already understood in jurisprudence
that the President may not be sued during his or her tenure.[9] The Court
subsequently made it abundantly clear in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, a case
likewise resolved under the umbrella of the 1987 Constitution, that indeed the
President enjoys immunity during her incumbency, and why this must be so:
Settled is the doctrine that the President, during his tenure of
office or actual incumbency, may not be sued in any civil or criminal
case, and there is no need to provide for it in the Constitution or law. It
will degrade the dignity of the high office of the President, the Head of
State, if he can be dragged into court litigations while serving as such.
Furthermore, it is important that he be freed from any form of
harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the
performance of his official duties and functions. Unlike the legislative

and judicial branch, only one constitutes the executive branch and
anything which impairs his usefulness in the discharge of the many great
and important duties imposed upon him by the Constitution necessarily
impairs the operation of the Government.[10] x x x

And lest it be overlooked, the petition is simply bereft of any allegation as


to what specific presidential act or omission violated or threatened to violate
petitioners protected rights.
This brings us to the correctness of the assailed dismissal of the petition with
respect to Gen. Esperon, P/Dir. Gen. Razon, P/Supt. Roquero, P/Insp. Gomez, and
the OMB.
None of the four individual respondents immediately referred to above has
been implicated as being connected to, let alone as being behind, the alleged
abduction and harassment of petitioner Lourdes. Their names were not even
mentioned in Lourdes Sinumpaang Salaysay[11] of April 2007. The same goes for
the respective Sinumpaang Salaysay and/or Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay of
Jean[12] and Mary Joy.[13]
As explained by the CA, Gen. Esperon and P/Dir. Gen. Razon were included
in the case on the theory that they, as commanders, were responsible for the
unlawful acts allegedly committed by their subordinates against petitioners. To the
appellate court, the privilege of the writ of amparo must be denied as against Gen.
Esperon and P/Dir. Gen. Razon for the simple reason that petitioners have not
presented evidence showing that those who allegedly abducted and illegally
detained Lourdes and later threatened her and her family were, in fact, members of
the military or the police force. The two generals, the CAs holding broadly
hinted, would have been accountable for the abduction and threats if the actual
malefactors were members of the AFP or PNP.
As regards the three other answering respondents, they were impleaded
because they allegedly had not exerted the required extraordinary diligence in
investigating and satisfactorily resolving Lourdes disappearance or bringing to
justice the actual perpetrators of what amounted to a criminal act, albeit there were
allegations against P/Insp. Gomez of acts constituting threats against Mary Joy.
While in a qualified sense tenable, the dismissal by the CA of the case as
against Gen. Esperon and P/Dir. Gen. Razon is incorrect if viewed against the

backdrop of the stated rationale underpinning the assailed decision vis--vis the
two generals, i.e., command responsibility. The Court assumes the latter stance
owing to the fact that command responsibility, as a concept defined, developed,
and applied under international law, has little, if at all, bearing in amparo
proceedings.
The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds its context in the
development of laws of war and armed combats. According to Fr. Bernas,
command responsibility, in its simplest terms, means the responsibility of
commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces or
other persons subject to their control in international wars or domestic
conflict.[14] In this sense, command responsibility is properly a form of criminal
complicity. The Hague Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of command
responsibility,[15] foreshadowing the present-day precept of holding a superior
accountable for the atrocities committed by his subordinates should he be remiss in
his duty of control over them. As then formulated, command responsibility is an
omission mode of individual criminal liability, whereby the superior is made
responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or
punish the perpetrators[16] (as opposed to crimes he ordered).
The doctrine has recently been codified in the Rome Statute[17] of the
International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the Philippines is signatory. Sec. 28
of the Statute imposes individual responsibility on military commanders for crimes
committed by forces under their control. The country is, however, not yet formally
bound by the terms and provisions embodied in this treaty-statute, since the Senate
has yet to extend concurrence in its ratification.[18]
While there are several pending bills on command responsibility,[19] there is
still no Philippine law that provides for criminal liability under that doctrine. [20]
It may plausibly be contended that command responsibility, as legal basis to
hold military/police commanders liable for extra-legal killings, enforced
disappearances, or threats, may be made applicable to this jurisdiction on the
theory that the command responsibility doctrine now constitutes a principle of
international law or customary international law in accordance with the
incorporation clause of the Constitution.[21] Still, it would be inappropriate to
apply to these proceedings the doctrine of command responsibility, as the CA
seemed to have done, as a form of criminal complicity through omission, for
individual respondents criminal liability, if there be any, is beyond the reach

of amparo. In other words, the Court does not rule in such proceedings on any
issue of criminal culpability, even if incidentally a crime or an infraction of an
administrative rule may have been committed. As the Court stressed in Secretary
of National Defense v. Manalo (Manalo),[22] the writ of amparo was conceived to
provide expeditious and effective procedural relief against violations or threats of
violation of the basic rights to life, liberty, and security of persons; the
corresponding amparo suit, however, is not an action to determine criminal guilt
requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt x x x or administrative liability requiring
substantial evidence that will require full and exhaustive proceedings.[23] Of the
same tenor, and by way of expounding on the nature and role of amparo, is what
the Court said in Razon v. Tagitis:
It does not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for
the disappearance [threats thereof or extra-judicial killings]; it
determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced
disappearance [threats thereof or extra-judicial killings] for purposes of
imposing the appropriate remedies to address the disappearance [or
extra-judicial killings].
xxxx
As the law now stands, extra-judicial killings and enforced
disappearances in this jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately
from the component criminal acts undertaken to carry out these killings
and enforced disappearances and are now penalized under the Revised
Penal Code and special laws. The simple reason is that the Legislature
has not spoken on the matter; the determination of what acts are criminal
x x x are matters of substantive law that only the Legislature has the
power to enact.[24] x x x

If command responsibility were to be invoked and applied to these


proceedings, it should, at most, be only to determine the author who, at the first
instance, is accountable for, and has the duty to address, the disappearance and
harassments complained of, so as to enable the Court to devise remedial measures
that may be appropriate under the premises to protect rights covered by the writ
of amparo. As intimated earlier, however, the determination should not be pursued
to fix criminal liability on respondents preparatory to criminal prosecution, or as a
prelude to administrative disciplinary proceedings under existing administrative
issuances, if there be any.

Petitioners, as the CA has declared, have not adduced substantial evidence


pointing to government involvement in the disappearance of Lourdes. To a
concrete point, petitioners have not shown that the actual perpetrators of the
abduction and the harassments that followed formally or informally formed part of
either the military or the police chain of command. A preliminary police
investigation report, however, would tend to show a link, however hazy, between
the license plate (XRR 428) of the vehicle allegedly used in the abduction of
Lourdes and the address of Darwin Reyes/Sy, who was alleged to be working in
Camp Aguinaldo.[25] Then, too, there were affidavits and testimonies on events that
transpired which, if taken together, logically point to military involvement in the
alleged disappearance of Lourdes, such as, but not limited to, her abduction in
broad daylight, her being forcibly dragged to a vehicle blindfolded and then being
brought to a place where the sounds of planes taking off and landing could be
heard. Mention may also be made of the fact thatLourdes was asked about her
membership in the Communist Party and of being released when she agreed to
become an asset.
Still and all, the identities and links to the AFP or the PNP of the alleged
abductors, namely Cuaresma, Alfaro, Santana, Jonathan, and Sy/Reyes, have yet to
be established.
Based on the separate sworn statements of Maj. Paul Ciano[26] and Technical
Sergeant John N. Romano,[27] officer-in-charge and a staff of the 301st AISS,
respectively, none of the alleged abductors of Lourdesbelonged to the 301st AISS
based in San Fernando Air Base. Neither were they members of any unit of the
Philippine Air Force, per the certification[28] of Col. Raul Dimatactac, Air Force
Adjutant. And as stated in the challenged CA decision, a verification with the
Personnel Accounting and Information System of the PNP yielded the information
that, except for a certain Darwin Reyes y Muga, the other alleged abductors, i.e.,
Cuaresma, Alfaro, Santana and Jonathan, were not members of the PNP.
Petitioners, when given the opportunity to identify Police Officer 1 Darwin Reyes
y Muga, made no effort to confirm if he was the same Maj. Darwin
Reyes a.k.a. Darwin Sy they were implicating in Lourdes abduction.

Petitioners, to be sure, have not successfully controverted answering


respondents documentary evidence, adduced to debunk the formers allegations
directly linking Lourdes abductors and tormentors to the military or the police

establishment. We note, in fact, that Lourdes, when queried on cross-examination,


expressed the belief that Sy/Reyes was an NBI agent.[29] The Court is, of course,
aware of what was referred to inRazon[30] as the evidentiary difficulties presented
by the nature of, and encountered by petitioners in, enforced disappearance cases.
But it is precisely for this reason that the Court should take care too that no wrong
message is sent, lest one conclude that any kind or degree of evidence, even the
outlandish, would suffice to secure amparo remedies and protection.
Sec. 17, as complemented by Sec. 18 of the Amparo Rule, expressly
prescribes the minimum evidentiary substantiation requirement and norm to
support a cause of action under the Rule, thus:
Sec. 17. Burden of Proof and Standard of Diligence Required.
The parties shall establish their claims by substantial evidence.
xxxx
Sec. 18. Judgment.x x x If the allegations in the petition are
proven by substantial evidence, the court shall grant the privilege of the
writ and such reliefs as may be proper and appropriate; otherwise, the
privilege shall be denied. (Emphasis added.)

Substantial evidence is more than a mere imputation of wrongdoing or


violation that would warrant a finding of liability against the person charged; [31] it
is more than a scintilla of evidence. It means such amount of relevant evidence
which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, even if
other equally reasonable minds might opine otherwise.[32] Per the CAs evaluation
of their evidence, consisting of the testimonies and affidavits of the three Rubrico
women and five other individuals, petitioners have not satisfactorily hurdled the
evidentiary bar required of and assigned to them under the Amparo Rule. In a very
real sense, the burden of evidence never even shifted to answering
respondents. The Court finds no compelling reason to disturb the appellate courts
determination of the answering respondents role in the alleged enforced
disappearance of petitioner Lourdes and the threats to her familys security.
Notwithstanding the foregoing findings, the Court notes that both Gen.
Esperon and P/Dir. Gen. Razon, per their separate affidavits, lost no time, upon
their receipt of the order to make a return on the writ, in issuing directives to the
concerned units in their respective commands for a thorough probe of the case and

in providing the investigators the necessary support. As of this date, however, the
investigations have yet to be concluded with some definite findings and
recommendation.
As regards P/Supt. Romero and P/Insp. Gomez, the Court is more than
satisfied that they have no direct or indirect hand in the alleged enforced
disappearance of Lourdes and the threats against her daughters. As police officers,
though, theirs was the duty to thoroughly investigate the abduction of Lourdes, a
duty that would include looking into the cause, manner, and like details of the
disappearance; identifying witnesses and obtaining statements from them; and
following evidentiary leads, such as the Toyota Revo vehicle with plate number
XRR 428, and securing and preserving evidence related to the abduction and the
threats that may aid in the prosecution of the person/s responsible. As we said
in Manalo,[33] the right to security, as a guarantee of protection by the government,
is breached by the superficial and one-sidedhence, ineffectiveinvestigation by
the military or the police of reported cases under their jurisdiction. As found by
the CA, the local police stations concerned, including P/Supt. Roquero and P/Insp.
Gomez, did conduct a preliminary fact-finding on petitioners complaint. They
could not, however, make any headway, owing to what was perceived to be the
refusal of Lourdes, her family, and her witnesses to cooperate. Petitioners
counsel, Atty. Rex J.M.A. Fernandez, provided a plausible explanation for his
clients and their witnesses attitude, [They] do not trust the government
agencies to protect them.[34] The difficulty arising from a situation where the
party whose complicity in extra-judicial killing or enforced disappearance, as the
case may be, is alleged to be the same party who investigates it is understandable,
though.
The seeming reluctance on the part of the Rubricos or their witnesses to
cooperate ought not to pose a hindrance to the police in pursuing, on its own
initiative, the investigation in question to its natural end. To repeat what the Court
said in Manalo, the right to security of persons is a guarantee of the protection of
ones right by the government. And this protection includes conducting effective
investigations of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, or threats of the
same kind. The nature and importance of an investigation are captured in
the Velasquez Rodriguez case,[35] in which the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights pronounced:
[The duty to investigate] must be undertaken in a serious manner
and not as a mere formality preordained to be ineffective. An

investigation must have an objective and be assumed by the State as its


own legal duty, not a step taken by private interests that depends
upon the initiative of the victim or his family or upon offer of proof,
without an effective search for the truth by the government. (Emphasis
added.)

This brings us to Mary Joys charge of having been harassed by respondent


P/Insp. Gomez. With the view we take of this incident, there is nothing concrete to
support the charge, save for Mary Joys bare allegations of harassment. We cite
with approval the following self-explanatory excerpt from the appealed CA
decision:
In fact, during her cross-examination, when asked what specific
act or threat P/Sr. Gomez (ret) committed against her or her mother and
sister, Mary Joy replied None [36]

Similarly, there appears to be no basis for petitioners allegations about the


OMB failing to act on their complaint against those who allegedly abducted and
illegally detained Lourdes. Contrary to petitioners contention, the OMB has taken
the necessary appropriate action on said complaint. As culled from the
affidavit[37] of the Deputy Overall Ombudsman and the joint affidavits[38] of the
designated investigators, all dated November 7, 2007, the OMB had, on the basis
of said complaint, commenced criminal[39] and administrative[40] proceedings,
docketed as OMB-P-C-07-0602-E and OMB-P-A 07-567-E, respectively, against
Cuaresma, Alfaro, Santana, Jonathan, and Sy/Reyes. The requisite orders for the
submission of counter-affidavits and verified position papers had been sent out.
The privilege of the writ of amparo, to reiterate, is a remedy available to
victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances or threats of similar
nature, regardless of whether the perpetrator of the unlawful act or omission is a
public official or employee or a private individual.
At this juncture, it bears to state that petitioners have not provided the CA
with the correct addresses of respondents Cuaresma, Alfaro, Santana, Jonathan,
and Sy/Reyes. The mailed envelopes containing the petition for a writ of amparo
individually addressed to each of them have all been returned unopened. And
petitioners motion interposed before the appellate court for notice or
service via publication has not been accompanied by supporting affidavits as

required by the Rules of Court. Accordingly, the appealed CA partial judgment


disposing of the underlying petition for a writ of amparo without (1)
pronouncement as to the accountability, or lack of it, of the four non-answering
respondents or (2) outright dismissal of the same petition as to themhews to the
prescription of Sec. 20 of the Amparo Rule on archiving and reviving
cases.[41]Parenthetically, petitioners have also not furnished this Court with
sufficient data as to where the afore-named respondents may be served a copy of
their petition for review.
Apart from the foregoing considerations, the petition did not allege ultimate
facts as would link the OMB in any manner to the violation or threat of violation of
the petitioners rights to life, liberty, or personal security.
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.[42] It is an extraordinary writ
conceptualized and adopted in light of and in response to the prevalence of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.[43] 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.
In their petition for a writ of amparo, petitioners asked, as their main prayer,
that the Court order the impleaded respondents to immediately desist from doing
any acts that would threaten or seem to threaten the security of the Petitioners and
to desist from approaching Petitioners, x x x their residences and offices where
they are working under pain of contempt of [this] Court. Petitioners, however,
failed to adduce the threshold substantive evidence to establish the predicate facts
to support their cause of action, i.e., the adverted harassments and threats to their
life, liberty, or security, against responding respondents, as responsible for the
disappearance and harassments complained of. This is not to say, however, that
petitioners allegation on the fact of the abduction incident or harassment is
necessarily contrived. The reality on the ground, however, is that the military or
police connection has not been adequately proved either by identifying the
malefactors as components of the AFP or PNP; or in case identification is not
possible, by showing that they acted with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the
government. For this reason, the Court is unable to ascribe the authorship of and
responsibility for the alleged enforced disappearance of Lourdes and the

harassment and threats on her daughters to individual respondents. To this extent,


the dismissal of the case against them is correct and must, accordingly, be
sustained.
Prescinding from the above considerations, the Court distinctly notes that the
appealed decision veritably extended the privilege of the writ of amparo to
petitioners when it granted what to us are amparo reliefs. Consider: the appellate
court decreed, and rightly so, that the police and the military take specific measures
for the protection of petitioners right or threatened right to liberty or security. The
protection came in the form of directives specifically to Gen. Esperon and P/Dir.
Gen. Razon, requiring each of them (1) to ensure that the investigations already
commenced by the AFP and PNP units, respectively, under them on the complaints
of Lourdes and her daughters are being pursued with urgency to bring to justice the
perpetrators of the acts complained of; and (2) to submit to the CA, copy furnished
the petitioners, a regular report on the progress and status of the
investigations. The directives obviously go to Gen. Esperon in his capacity as head
of the AFP and, in a sense, chief guarantor of order and security in the country. On
the other hand, P/Dir. Gen. Razon is called upon to perform a duty pertaining to
the PNP, a crime-preventing, investigatory, and arresting institution.
As the CA, however, formulated its directives, no definitive time frame was
set in its decision for the completion of the investigation and the reportorial
requirements. It also failed to consider Gen. Esperon and P/Dir. Gen. Razons
imminent compulsory retirement from the military and police services,
respectively. Accordingly, the CA directives, as hereinafter redefined and
amplified to fully enforce the amparo remedies, are hereby given to, and shall be
directly enforceable against, whoever sits as the commanding general of the AFP
and the PNP.
At this stage, two postulates and their implications need highlighting for a
proper disposition of this case.
First, a criminal complaint for kidnapping and, alternatively, for arbitrary
detention rooted in the same acts and incidents leading to the filing of the subject
amparo petition has been instituted with the OMB, docketed as OMB-P-C-O70602-E. The usual initial steps to determine the existence of a prima facie case
against the five (5) impleaded individuals suspected to be actually involved in the
detention of Lourdes have been set in motion. It must be pointed out, though, that

the filing[44] of the OMB complaint came before the effectivity of the Amparo Rule
on October 24, 2007.
Second, Sec. 22[45] of the Amparo Rule proscribes the filing of an amparo
petition should a criminal action have, in the meanwhile, been commenced. The
succeeding Sec. 23,[46] on the other hand, provides that when the criminal suit is
filed subsequent to a petition for amparo, the petition shall be consolidated with
the criminal action where the Amparo Rule shall nonetheless govern the
disposition of the relief under the Rule. Under the terms of said Sec. 22, the present
petition ought to have been dismissed at the outset. But as things stand, the outright
dismissal of the petition by force of that section is no longer technically feasible in
light of the interplay of the following factual mix: (1) the Court has, pursuant to
Sec. 6[47] of the Rule, already issued ex parte the writ of amparo; (2) the CA, after a
summary hearing, has dismissed the petition, but not on the basis of Sec. 22; and
(3) the complaint in OMB-P-C-O7-0602-E named as respondents only those
believed to be the actual abductors of Lourdes, while the instant petition
impleaded, in addition, those tasked to investigate the kidnapping and detention
incidents and their superiors at the top. Yet, the acts and/or omissions subject of
the criminal complaint and the amparo petition are so linked as to call for the
consolidation of both proceedings to obviate the mischief inherent in a
multiplicity-of-suits situation.
Given the above perspective and to fully apply the beneficial nature of the
writ of amparo as an inexpensive and effective tool to protect certain rights
violated or threatened to be violated, the Court hereby adjusts to a degree the literal
application of Secs. 22 and 23 of the Amparo Rule to fittingly address the situation
obtaining under the premises. [48] Towards this end, two things are at once
indicated: (1) the consolidation of the probe and fact-finding aspects of the instant
petition with the investigation of the criminal complaint before the OMB; and (2)
the incorporation in the same criminal complaint of the allegations in this petition
bearing on the threats to the right to security. Withal, the OMB should be furnished
copies of the investigation reports to aid that body in its own investigation and
eventual resolution of OMB-P-C-O7-0602-E. Then, too, the OMB shall be given
easy access to all pertinent documents and evidence, if any, adduced before the
CA. Necessarily, Lourdes, as complainant in OMB-P-C-O7-0602-E, should be
allowed, if so minded, to amend her basic criminal complaint if the consolidation
of cases is to be fully effective.

WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS this petition for review and
makes a decision:

(1) Affirming the dropping of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the


petition for a writ of amparo;

(2) Affirming the dismissal of the amparo case as against Gen. Hermogenes
Esperon, and P/Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon, insofar as it tended, under the command
responsibility principle, to attach accountability and responsibility to them, as
then AFP Chief of Staff and then PNP Chief, for the alleged enforced
disappearance of Lourdes and the ensuing harassments allegedly committed
against petitioners. The dismissal of the petition with respect to the OMB is also
affirmed for failure of the petition to allege ultimate facts as to make out a case
against that body for the enforced disappearance of Lourdes and the threats and
harassment that followed; and

(3) Directing the incumbent Chief of Staff, AFP, or his successor, and the
incumbent Director-General of the PNP, or his successor, to ensure that the
investigations already commenced by their respective units on the alleged
abduction of Lourdes Rubrico and the alleged harassments and threats she and
her daughters were made to endure are pursued with extraordinary diligence as
required by Sec. 17[49] of the Amparo Rule. They shall order their subordinate
officials, in particular, to do the following:

(a) Determine based on records, past and present, the identities and
locations of respondents Maj. Darwin Sy, a.k.a. Darwin Reyes, Jimmy
Santana, Ruben Alfaro, Capt. Angelo Cuaresma, and one Jonathan; and
submit certifications of this determination to the OMB with copy furnished
to petitioners, the CA, and this Court;
(b) Pursue with extraordinary diligence the evidentiary leads relating
to Maj. Darwin Sy and the Toyota Revo vehicle with Plate No. XRR 428;
and

(c) Prepare, with the assistance of petitioners and/or witnesses,


cartographic sketches of respondents Maj. Sy/Reyes, Jimmy Santana, Ruben
Alfaro, Capt. Angelo Cuaresma, and a certain Jonathan to aid in positively
identifying and locating them.
The investigations shall be completed not later than six (6) months from
receipt of this Decision; and within thirty (30) days after completion of the
investigations, the Chief of Staff of the AFP and the Director-General of the PNP
shall submit a full report of the results of the investigations to the Court, the CA,
the OMB, and petitioners.

This case is accordingly referred back to the CA for the purpose of


monitoring the investigations and the actions of the AFP and the PNP.
Subject to the foregoing modifications, the Court AFFIRMS the partial
judgment dated July 31, 2008 of the CA.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
LT. COL. ROGELIO BOAC, LT. G.R. Nos. 184461-62
COL. FELIPE ANOTADO AND
LT. FRANCIS MIRABELLE
SAMSON,
Petitioners,

- versus -

ERLINDA T. CADAPAN AND


CONCEPCION E. EMPEO,
Respondents.

x-------------------------------x
ERLINDA T. CADAPAN AND G.R. No. 184495
CONCEPCION E. EMPEO,
Petitioners,

- versus -

GEN.
HERMOGENES
ESPERON,
P/DIR.GEN.
AVELINO RAZON, (RET.) GEN.
ROMEO TOLENTINO, (RET.)
GEN. JOVITO PALPARAN, LT.
COL. ROGELIO BOAC, LT.
COL. FELIPE ANOTADO, ET
AL.,
Respondents.

x------------------------------------x
ERLINDA T. CADAPAN AND
CONCEPCION E. EMPEO,
Petitioners,

G.R. No. 187109


Present:

- versus -

GLORIA
MACAPAGALARROYO, GEN. HERMOGENES
ESPERON,
P/DIR.GEN.
AVELINO RAZON, (RET.) GEN.
ROMEO TOLENTINO, (RET.)
GEN. JOVITO PALPARAN, LT.
COL. ROGELIO BOAC, LT.
COL.
FELIPE
ANOTADO,
DONALD CAIGAS, A.K.A. ALAN
OR ALVIN, ARNEL ENRIQUEZ
AND
LT.
FRANCIS
MIRABELLE SAMSON,
Respondents.

CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,*
ABAD,**
VILLARAMA,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA,** JJ.
Promulgated:

May 31, 2011


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
At 2:00 a.m. of June 26, 2006, armed men abducted Sherlyn Cadapan
(Sherlyn), Karen Empeo (Karen) and Manuel Merino (Merino) from a house in
San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan. The three were herded onto a jeep bearing license
plate RTF 597 that sped towards an undisclosed location.
Having thereafter heard nothing from Sherlyn, Karen and Merino, their
respective families scoured nearby police precincts and military camps in the hope
of finding them but the same yielded nothing.

On July 17, 2006, spouses Asher and Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion
Empeo filed a petition for habeas corpus[1] before the Court, docketed as G.R.
No. 173228, impleading then Generals Romeo Tolentino and Jovito Palparan (Gen.
Palparan), Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac (Lt. Col. Boac), Arnel Enriquez and Lt. Francis
Mirabelle Samson (Lt. Mirabelle) as respondents. By Resolution of July 19,

2006,[2] the Court issued a writ ofhabeas corpus, returnable to the Presiding Justice
of the Court of Appeals.
The habeas corpus petition was docketed at the appellate court as CA-G.R.
SP No. 95303.
By Return of the Writ dated July 21, 2006,[3] the respondents in the habeas
corpus petition denied that Sherlyn, Karen and Merino are in the custody of the
military. To the Return were attached affidavits from the respondents, except
Enriquez, who all attested that they do not know Sherlyn, Karen and Merino; that
they had inquired from their subordinates about the reported abduction and
disappearance of the three but their inquiry yielded nothing; and that the military
does not own nor possess a stainless steel jeep with plate number RTF 597. Also
appended to the Return was a certification from the Land Transportation Office
(LTO) that plate number RTF 597 had not yet been manufactured as of July 26,
2006.
Trial thereupon ensued at the appellate court.
Witness Wilfredo Ramos, owner of the house where the three were
abducted, recounted that on June 26, 2006, while he was inside his house in
Hagonoy, he witnessed armed men wearing bonnets abduct Sherlyn and Karen
from his house and also abduct Merino on their way out; and that tied and
blindfolded, the three were boarded on a jeep and taken towards Iba in Hagonoy.[4]
Witness Alberto Ramirez (Ramirez) recalled that on June 28, 2006, while
he was sleeping in his house, he was awakened by Merino who, in the company of
a group of unidentified armed men, repaired to his house; that onboard a stainless
jeep bearing plate number RTF 597, he (Ramirez) was taken to a place in Mercado,
Hagonoy and was asked by one Enriquez if he knew Sierra, Tanya, Vincent
and Lisa; and that Enriquez described the appearance of two ladies which
matched those of Sherlyn and Karen, whom he was familiar with as the two had
previously slept in his house.[5]
Another witness, Oscar Leuterio, who was himself previously abducted by
armed men and detained for five months, testified that when he was detained
in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, he saw two women fitting the descriptions of
Sherlyn and Karen, and also saw Merino, his kumpare.[6]

Lt. Col. Boac, the then commander of Task Force Malolos, a special
operations team tasked to neutralize the intelligence network of communists and
other armed groups, declared that he conducted an inquiry on the abduction of
Sherlyn, Karen and Merino but his subordinates denied knowledge thereof.[7]
While he denied having received any order from Gen. Palparan to
investigate the disappearance of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino, his assistance in
locating the missing persons was sought by the mayor of Hagonoy.
Major Dominador Dingle, the then division adjutant of the Philippine
Armys 7th Infantry Division in Fort Magsaysay, denied that a certain Arnel
Enriquez is a member of his infantry as in fact his name did not appear in the roster
of troops.[8]
Roberto Se, a supervisor of the Equipment, Plate Number and Supply Units
of the LTO, denied that his office manufactured and issued a plate number bearing
number RTF 597.[9]
On rebuttal, Lt. Mirabelle, Lt. Col. Boac and Gen. Palparan took the witness
stand as hostile witnesses.
Lt. Mirabelle testified that she did not receive any report on the abduction
of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino nor any order to investigate the matter. And she
denied knowing anything about the abduction of Ramirez nor who were Ka Tanya
or Ka Lisa.[10]
Gen. Palparan testified that during a debate in a televised program, he
mentioned the names of Ka Lisa and Ka Tanya as the ones involved in
revolutionary tax activities; and that he ordered Lt. Col. Boac to conduct an
investigation on the disappearance of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino.[11] When
pressed to elaborate, he stated: I said that I got the report that it stated that it was
Ka Tanya and Ka Lisa that, I mean, that incident happened in Hagonoy, Bulacan
was the abduction of Ka Lisa and Ka Tanya, Your Honor, and another one. That
was the report coming from the people in the area.[12]
By Decision of March 29, 2007,[13] the Court of Appeals dismissed
the habeas corpus petition in this wise:

As Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeo and Manuel Merino are


indeed missing, the present petition for habeas corpus is not the
appropriate remedy since the main office or function of the habeas
corpus is to inquire into the legality of ones detention which
presupposes that respondents have actual custody of the persons
subject of the petition. The reason therefor is that the courts have
limited powers, means and resources to conduct an investigation. x x x.
It being the situation, the proper remedy is not a habeas
corpus proceeding but criminal proceedings by initiating criminal suit
for abduction or kidnapping as a crime punishable by law. In the case
of Martinez v. Mendoza, supra, the Supreme Court restated the doctrine
that habeas corpus may not be used as a means of obtaining evidence on
the whereabouts of a person, or as a means of finding out who has
specifically abducted or caused the disappearance of a certain
person. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Thus the appellate court disposed:


WHEREFORE, the petition for habeas corpus is hereby
DISMISSED, there being no strong evidence that the missing persons
are in the custody of the respondents.
The Court, however, further resolves to refer the case to the
Commission on Human Rights, the National Bureau of Investigation and
the Philippine National Police for separate investigations and appropriate
actions as may be warranted by their findings and to furnish the Court
with their separate reports on the outcome of their investigations and
the actions taken thereon.
Let copies of this decision be furnished the Commission on
Human Rights, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine
National Police for their appropriate actions.
SO ORDERED. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioners in CA-G.R. SP No. 95303 moved for a reconsideration of the


appellate courts decision. They also moved to present newly discovered evidence
consisting of the testimonies of Adoracion Paulino, Sherlyns mother-in-law who

was allegedly threatened by soldiers; and Raymond Manalo who allegedly met
Sherlyn, Karen and Merino in the course of his detention at a military camp.
During the pendency of the motion for reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No.
95303, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeo filed before this Court a Petition
for Writ of Amparo[14] With Prayers for Inspection of Place and Production of
Documents dated October 24, 2007, docketed as G.R. No. 179994. The petition
impleaded the same respondents in the habeas corpus petition, with the addition of
then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then Armed Forces of the Phil. (AFP)
Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr., then Phil. National Police (PNP) Chief
Gen. Avelino Razon (Gen. Razon), Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado (Lt. Col. Anotado) and
Donald Caigas.
Then President Arroyo was eventually dropped as respondent in light of her
immunity from suit while in office.
Petitioners in G.R. No. 179994 also prayed that they be allowed to inspect
the detention areas of the following places:
1.

7th Infantry Division at Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija

2.

24th Infantry Batallion at Limay, Bataan

3.

4.
5.

Army Detachment inside Valmocina Farm, Pinaod, San Ildefonso,


Bulacan
Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan
The Resthouse of Donald Caigas alias Allan or Alvin of the
24th Infantry Batallion at Barangay Banog, Bolinao, Pangasinan

6.

56th Infantry Batallion Headquarters at Iba, Hagonoy, Bulacan

7.

Army Detachment at Barangay Mercado, Hagonoy, Bulacan

8.

Beach House [at] Iba, Zambales used as a safehouse with a retired


military personnel as a caretaker;

By Resolution of October 25, 2007, the Court issued in G.R. No. 179994 a
writ of amparo returnable to the Special Former Eleventh Division of the appellate
court, and ordered the consolidation of the amparopetition with the
pending habeas corpus petition.
Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 002, respondents in the amparo case, through
the Solicitor General, filed their Return of the Writ on November 6, 2007.[15] In
the Return, Gen. Palparan, Lt. Col. Boac and Lt. Mirabelle reiterated their earlier
narrations in the habeas corpus case.
Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. stated in the Return that he immediately
caused to investigate and verify the identities of the missing persons and was aware
of the earlier decision of the appellate court ordering the police, the Commission
on Human Rights and the National Bureau of Investigation to take further action
on the matter.[16]
Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, the then battalion commander of the 24th Infantry
Battalion based in Balanga City, Bataan, denied any involvement in the
abduction. While the 24th Infantry Battalion detachment was reported to be a
detention site of the missing persons, Lt. Col. Anotado claimed that he found no
untoward incident when he visited said detachment. He also claimed that there
was no report of the death of Merino per his inquiry with the local police.[17]
Police Director General Avelino Razon narrated that he ordered the
compilation of pertinent records, papers and other documents of the PNP on the
abduction of the three, and that the police exhausted all possible actions available
under the circumstances.[18]
In addition to the witnesses already presented in the habeas corpus case,
petitioners called on Adoracion Paulino and Raymond Manalo to testify during the
trial.
Adoracion Paulino recalled that her daughter-in-law Sherlyn showed up at
home on April 11, 2007, accompanied by two men and three women whom she
believed were soldiers. She averred that she did not report the incident to the
police nor inform Sherlyns mother about the visit.[19]
Raymond Manalo (Manalo) claimed that he met the three abducted persons
when he was illegally detained by military men in Camp Tecson in San Miguel,

Bulacan. His group was later taken to a camp in Limay, Bataan. He recalled that
Lt. Col. Anotado was the one who interrogated him while in detention.[20]
In his Sinumpaang Salaysay,[21] Manalo recounted:
xxxx
59.

Saan ka dinala mula sa Sapang?


Pagkalipas ng humigit kumulang 3 buwan sa Sapang, dinala ako sa
Camp Tecson sa ilalim ng 24th IB.
xxxx
Sa loob ng barracks ko nakilala si Sherlyn Cadapan, isang
estudyante ng UP.
Ipinapalinis din sa akin ang loob ng barracks. Sa isang kwarto sa
loob ng barracks, may nakita akong babae na nakakadena[.] Noong
una, pinagbawalan akong makipag-usap sa kanya. Sa ikatlo o
ikaapat na araw, nakausap ko yung babaeng nagngangalang
Sherlyn. Binigyan ko siya ng pagkain. Sinabi niya sa akin na
dinukot si[ya] sa Hagonoy, Bulacan at matindi ang tortyur na
dinaranas niya. Sabi niya gusto niyang umuwi at makasama ang
kanyang magulang. Umiiyak siya. Sabi niya sa akin ang buong
pangalan niya ay Sherlyn Cadapan, mula sa Laguna. Sa araw
tinatanggal ang kanyang kadena at inuutusan si Sherlyn na
maglaba.
x x x x.

61.

Sino ang mga nakilala mo sa Camp Tecson?


Dito sa Camp Tecson naming nakilala si Allan Alvin (maya-maya
nalaman naming na siya pala si Donald Caigas), ng 24th IB, na
tinatawag na master o commander ng kanyang mga tauhan.
Pagkalipas ng 2 araw matapos dalhin si Reynaldo
sa Camp Tecson dumating
sina Karen
Empeo at Manuel
Merino na mga bihag din. Inilagay si Karen at Manuel sa kwarto ni

Allan[.] Kami naman ni Reynaldo ay nasa katabing kwarto,


kasama si Sherlyn.
xxxx
62.

xxxx
Kaming mga lalake (ako, si Reynaldo at si Manuel) ay ginawang
utusan, habang sina Sherlyn at Karen ay ginawang labandera.
Si Sherlyn ang pinahirapan nina Mickey, Donald at Billy. Sabi
ni Sherlyn sa akin na siyay ginahasa.
xxxx

63.

xxxx
xxxx
Kaming lima (ako, si Reynaldo, si Sherlyn, si Karen at si [Merino])
ang dinala sa Limay. Sinakay ako, si Reynaldo, si Sherlyn at si
[Merino] sa isang stainless na jeep. Si Karen ay isinakay sa itim na
sasakyan ni Donald Caigas. x x x x
xxxx

66.

Saan pa kayo dinala mula sa Limay, Bataan?


Mula sa Limay, kaming 5 (ako, si Reynaldo, si Sherlyn, Si Karen at
si Manuel) ay dinala sa isang safehouse sa Zambales, tabi ng
dagat. x x x x (underscoring supplied; italics and emphasis in the
original)

On rebuttal, Lt. Col. Anotado and Col. Eduardo Boyles Davalan were called
to the witness stand.
Lt. Col. Anotado denied seeing or meeting Manalo. He posited that Manalo
recognized him because he was very active in conducting lectures in Bataan and
even appeared on television regarding an incident involving the 24th Infantry

Batallion. He contended that it was impossible for Manalo, Sherlyn, Karen and
Merino to be detained in the Limay detachment which had no detention area.
Col. Eduardo Boyles Davalan, the then chief of staff of the First Scout
Ranger Regiment in Camp Tecson, testified that the camp is not a detention
facility, nor does it conduct military operations as it only serves as a training
facility for scout rangers. He averred that his regiment does not have any
command relation with either the 7th Infantry Division or the 24th Infantry
Battalion.[22]
By Decision of September 17, 2008,[23] the appellate court granted the
Motion for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No. 95303 (the habeas corpus case)
and ordered the immediate release of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino in CA-G.R. SP
No. 00002 (the amparo case). Thus it disposed:
WHEREFORE, in CA-G.R. SP NO. 95303 (Habeas Corpus case),
the Motion for Reconsideration is GRANTED.
Accordingly, in both CA-G.R. SP NO. 95303 (Habeas Corpus
case) and in CA-G.R. SP NO. 00002 (Amparo case), the respondents are
thereby ordered to immediately RELEASE, or cause the release, from
detention the persons of Sher[lyn] Cadapan, Karen Empeo and Manuel
Merino.
Respondent Director General Avelino Razon is hereby ordered to
resume [the] PNPs unfinished investigation so that the truth will be
fully ascertained and appropriate charges filed against those truly
responsible.
SO ORDERED.

In reconsidering its earlier Decision in the habeas corpus case, the appellate
court relied heavily on the testimony of Manalo in this wise:
With the additional testimony of Raymond Manalo, the
petitioners have been able to convincingly prove the fact of their
detention by some elements in the military. His testimony is a first
hand account that military and civilian personnel under the
7th Infantry Division were responsible for the abduction of Sherlyn

Cadapan, Karen Empeo and Manuel Merino. He also confirmed the


claim of Oscar Leuterio that the latter was detained in FortMagsaysay. It
was there where he (Leuterio) saw Manuel Merino.
His testimony that Leuterio saw Manuel Merino
in Fort Magsaysay may be hearsay but not with respect to his meeting
with, and talking to, the three desaparecidos. His testimony on those
points was no hearsay. Raymond Manalo saw the three with his very
own eyes as they were detained and tortured together. In fact, he
claimed to be a witness to the burning of Manuel Merino. In the absence
of confirmatory proof, however, the Court will presume that he is still
alive.
The testimony of Raymond Manalo can no longer be ignored
and brushed aside. His narration and those of the earlier witnesses,
taken together, constitute more than substantial evidence warranting an
order that the three be released from detention if they are not being held
for a lawful cause. They may be moved from place to place but still they
are considered under detention and custody of the respondents.
His testimony was clear, consistent and convincing. x x x.
xxxx
The additional testimonies of Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and Col.
Eduardo Boyles Davalan were of no help either. Again, their averments
were the same negative ones which cannot prevail over those of
Raymond Manalo. Indeed, Camp Tecson has been utilized as a training
camp for army scout rangers. Even Raymond Manalo noticed it but the
camps use for purposes other than training cannot be discounted.
xxxx
In view of the foregoing, there is now a clear and credible
evidence that the three missing persons, [Sherlyn, Karen and
Merino], are being detained in military camps and bases under the
7th Infantry Division. Being not held for a lawful cause, they should be
immediately released from detention. (italic in the original; emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

Meanwhile, in the amparo case, the appellate court deemed it a superfluity


to issue any inspection order or production order in light of the release order. As it
earlier ruled in the habeas corpus case, it found that the three detainees right to
life, liberty and security was being violated, hence, the need to immediately release
them, or cause their release. The appellate court went on to direct the PNP to
proceed further with its investigation since there were enough leads as indicated in
the records to ascertain the truth and file the appropriate charges against those
responsible for the abduction and detention of the three.
Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, et al. challenged before this Court, via petition for
review, the September 17, 2008 Decision of the appellate court. This was
docketed as G.R. Nos. 184461-62, the first above-captioned case- subject of the
present Decision.
Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeo, on the other hand, filed their own
petition for review also challenging the same September 17, 2008 Decision of the
appellate court only insofar as the amparo aspect is concerned. Their petition,
docketed as G.R. No. 179994, was redocketed as G.R. No. 184495, the second
above-captioned case.
By Resolution of June 15, 2010, the Court ordered the consolidation of G.R.
No. 184495 with G.R. Nos. 1844461-62.[24]
Meanwhile, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeo filed before the
appellate court a Motion to Cite Respondents in Contempt of Court for failure of
the respondents in the amparo and habeas corpus cases to comply with the
directive of the appellate court to immediately release the three missing
persons. By Resolution of March 5, 2009,[25] the appellate court denied the motion,
ratiocinating thus:
While the Court, in the dispositive portion, ordered the
respondents to immediately RELEASE, or cause the release, from
detention the persons of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeo and Manuel
Merino, the decision is not ipso facto executory. The use of the term
immediately does not mean that that it is automatically
executory. There is nothing in the Rule on the Writ of Amparo which
states that a decision rendered is immediately executory. x x x.

Neither did the decision become final and executory considering


that both parties questioned the Decision/Resolution before the Supreme
Court. x x x.
Besides, the Court has no basis. The petitioners did not file a
motion for execution pending appeal under Section 2 of Rule 39. There
being no motion, the Court could not have issued, and did not issue, a
writ of execution. x x x. (underscoring supplied)

Via a petition for certiorari filed on March 30, 2009 before this Court,
Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeo challenged the appellate courts March
5, 2009 Resolution denying their motion to cite respondents in contempt. The
petition was docketed as G.R. No. 187109, the last above-captioned case subject of
the present Decision.
Only Lt. Col. Anotado and Lt. Mirabelle remained of the original
respondents in the amparo and habeas corpus cases as the other respondents had
retired from government service.[26] The AFP has denied that Arnel Enriquez was
a member of the Philippine Army.[27] The whereabouts of Donald Caigas remain
unknown.[28]
In G.R. Nos. 184461-62, petitioners posit as follows:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS GROSSLY MISAPPRECIATED
THE VALUE OF THE TESTIMONY OF RAYMOND MANALO.
II
THE PETITION[S] FOR HABEAS CORPUS AND WRIT OF
AMPARO SHOULD BE DISMISSED BECAUSE RESPONDENTS
FAILED TO PROVE BY THE REQUIRED QUANTUM OF
EVIDENCE THAT PETITIONERS HAVE SHERLYN CADAPAN,
KAREN EMPEO AND MANUEL MERINO ARE IN THEIR
CUSTODY.
III
PETITIONERS DENIALS PER SE SHOULD NOT HAVE
BEEN TAKEN AGAINST THEM BECAUSE THEY DID NOT

REALLY HAVE ANY INVOLVEMENT IN THE ALLEGED


ABDUCTION; MOREOVER, THE SUPPOSED INCONSISTENCIES
IN THEIR TESTIMONIES ARE ON POINTS IRRELEVANT TO THE
PETITION.
IV
THE DISPOSITIVE PORTION OF THE ASSAILED DECISION
IS VAGUE AND INCONGRUENT WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE
COURT OF APPEALS.
V
THE COURT OF APPEALS IGNORED AND FAILED TO
RULE UPON THE FATAL PROCEDURAL INFIRMITIES IN THE
PETITION FOR WRIT OF AMPARO.[29]

In G.R. No. 184495, petitioners posit as follows:


5.

The Court of Appeals erred in not granting the Interim Relief for
Inspection of Places;

6.

The Court of Appeals erred in not granting the Interim Relief for
Production of Documents;

7.

The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the Police Director
Gen. Avelino Razon did not make extraordinary diligence in
investigating the enforced disappearance of the aggrieved parties

8.

The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that this was not the
command coming from the highest echelon of powers of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Army and the Seventh Infantry
Division of the Philippine Army to enforcibly disappear [sic] the
aggrieved parties

9.

The Court of Appeals erred in dropping President Gloria


Macapagal Arroyo as party respondent in this case;

10.

The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that President Gloria


Macapagal Arroyo had command responsibility in the enforced

disappearance and continued detention of the three aggrieved


parties
11.

The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the Armed Forces
Chief of Staff then Hermogenes Esperon and the Present Chief of
Staff as having command responsibility in the enforced
disappearance and continued detention of the three aggrieved
parties[30]

In G.R. No. 187109, petitioners raise the following issues:


[1] Whether the decision in the Court of Appeals has become
final and executory[.]
[2] Whetherthere is a need to file a motion for execution in a
Habeas Corpus decision or in an Amparo decision[.]
[3] Whetheran appeal can stay the decision of a Habeas Corpus
[case] [or] an Amparo case[.][31]

Essentially, the consolidated petitions present three primary issues, viz: a)


whether the testimony of Raymond Manalo is credible; b) whether the chief of the
AFP, the commanding general of the Philippine Army, as well as the heads of the
concerned units had command responsibility over the abduction and detention of
Sherlyn, Karen and Merino; and c) whether there is a need to file a motion for
execution to cause the release of the aggrieved parties.

G.R. Nos. 184461-62


Petitioners Lt. Col. Boac, et al. contend that the appellate court erred in
giving full credence to the testimony of Manalo who could not even accurately
describe the structures of Camp Tecson where he claimed to have been detained
along with Sherlyn, Karen and Merino. They underscore that Camp Tecson is not
under the jurisdiction of the 24th Infantry Batallion and that Manalos testimony is
incredible and full of inconsistencies.[32]

In Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo,[33] an original petition for


Prohibition, Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order which was treated as a
petition under the Amparo Rule, said Rule having taken effect during the pendency
of the petition, the Court ruled on the truthfulness and veracity of the personal
account of Manalo which included his encounter with Sherlyn, Kara and Merino
while on detention. Thus it held:
We affirm the factual findings of the appellate court, largely
based on respondent Raymond Manalos affidavit and
testimony, viz:
x x x x.
We reject the claim of petitioners that respondent Raymond
Manalos statements were not corroborated by other independent
and credible pieces of evidence. Raymonds affidavit and testimony
were corroborated by the affidavit of respondent Reynaldo Manalo. The
testimony and medical reports prepared by forensic specialist Dr.
Molino, and the pictures of the scars left by the physical injuries inflicted
on respondents, also corroborate respondents accounts of the torture
they endured while in detention. Respondent Raymond Manalos
familiarity with the facilities in Fort Magsaysay such as the DTU, as
shown in his testimony and confirmed by Lt. Col. Jimenez to be the
Division Training Unit, firms up respondents story that they were
detained for some time in said military facility. (citations omitted;
emphasis and underscoring supplied)

On Manalos having allegedly encountered Sherlyn, Karen and Merino while on


detention, the Court in the immediately cited case synthesized his tale as follows:
The next day, Raymonds chains were removed and he was
ordered to clean outside the barracks. It was then he learned that he was
in a detachment of the Rangers. There were many soldiers, hundreds of
them were training. He was also ordered to clean inside the barracks. In
one of the rooms therein, he met Sherlyn Cadapan from
Laguna. She told him that she was a student of the University of
the Philippines and was abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan. She confided
that she had been subjected to severe torture and raped. She was crying
and longing to go home and be with her parents. During the day, her
chains were removed and she was made to do the laundry.

After a week, Reynaldo was also brought to Camp Tecson. Two


days from his arrival, two other captives, Karen Empeo and
Manuel Merino, arrived. Karen and Manuel were put in the room with
Allan whose name they later came to know as Donald Caigas, called
master or commander by his men in the 24th Infantry
Battalion. Raymond and Reynaldo were put in the adjoining room. At
times, Raymond and Reynaldo were threatened, and Reynaldo was
beaten up. In the daytime, their chains were removed, but were put back
on at night. They were threatened that if they escaped, their families
would all be killed.
On or about October 6, 2006, Hilario arrived in Camp Tecson. He
told the detainees that they should be thankful they were still alive and
should continue along their renewed life. Before the hearing of
November 6 or 8, 2006, respondents were brought to their parents to
instruct them not to attend the hearing. However, their parents had
already
left
for Manila. Respondents
were
brought
back
to Camp Tecson. They stayed in that camp from September 2006 to
November 2006, and Raymond was instructed to continue using the
name Oscar and holding himself out as a military trainee. He got
acquainted with soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion whose names and
descriptions he stated in his affidavit.
On November 22, 2006, respondents, along with Sherlyn,
Karen, and Manuel, were transferred to a camp of the 24 th Infantry
Battalion in Limay, Bataan. There were many huts in the camp. They
stayed in that camp until May 8, 2007. Some soldiers of the battalion
stayed with them. While there, battalion soldiers whom Raymond knew
as Mar and Billy beat him up and hit him in the stomach with their
guns. Sherlyn and Karen also suffered enormous torture in the
camp. They were all made to clean, cook, and help in raising livestock.
Raymond recalled that when Operation Lubog was launched,
Caigas and some other soldiers brought him and Manuel with them to
take and kill all sympathizers of the NPA. They were brought to
Barangay Bayan-bayanan, Bataanwhere he witnessed the killing of an
old man doing kaingin. The soldiers said he was killed because he had a
son who was a member of the NPA and he coddled NPA members in his
house. Another time, in another Operation Lubog, Raymond was
brought to Barangay Orion in a house where NPA men stayed. When

they arrived, only the old man of the house who was sick was
there. They spared him and killed only his son right before Raymonds
eyes.
From Limay, Raymond, Reynaldo, Sherlyn, Karen, and
Manuel were transferred to Zambales, in a safehouse near the
sea. Caigas and some of his men stayed with them. A retired army
soldier was in charge of the house. Like in Limay, the five detainees
were made to do errands and chores. They stayed in Zambales from
May 8 or 9, 2007 until June 2007.
In June 2007, Caigas brought the five back to the camp in
Limay. Raymond, Reynaldo, and Manuel were tasked to bring food
to detainees brought to the camp. Raymond narrated what he
witnessed and experienced in the camp, viz:
x x x x.[34] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The Court takes judicial notice of its Decision in the just cited Secretary of
National Defense v. Manalo[35] which assessed the account of Manalo to be a
candid and forthright narrative of his and his brother Reynaldos abduction by the
military in 2006; and of the corroborative testimonies, in the same case, of
Manalos brother Reynaldo and a forensic specialist, as well as Manalos graphic
description of the detention area. There is thus no compelling reason for the Court,
in the present case, to disturb its appreciation in Manalos testimony. The outright
denial of petitioners Lt. Col. Boac, et al. thus crumbles.
Petitioners go on to point out that the assailed Decision of the appellate court
is vague and incongruent with [its] findings for, so they contend, while the
appellate court referred to the perpetrators as misguided and self-righteous
civilian and military elements of the 7th Infantry Division, it failed to identify who
these perpetrators are. Moreover, petitioners assert that Donald Caigas and Arnel
Enriquez are not members of the AFP. They furthermore point out that their copetitioners Generals Esperon, Tolentino and Palparan have already retired from the
service and thus have no more control of any military camp or base in the
country.[36]
There is nothing vague and/or incongruent about the categorical order of the
appellate court for petitioners to release Sherlyn, Karen and Merino. In its

discourse, the appellate court merely referred to a few misguided self-righteous


people who resort to the extrajudicial process of neutralizing those who disagree
with the countrys democratic system of government. Nowhere did it specifically
refer to the members of the 7thInfantry Division as the misguided self-righteous
ones.
Petitioners finally point out that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen do not
have the requisite standing to file the amparo petition on behalf of Merino. They
call attention to the fact that in the amparo petition, the parents of Sherlyn and
Karen merely indicated that they were concerned with Manuel Merino as basis
for filing the petition on his behalf.[37]
Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo[38] provides:
The petition may be filed by the aggrieved party or by any
qualified person or entity in the following order:
(a) Any member of the immediate family, namely: the spouse,
children and parents of the aggrieved party;
(b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the
aggrieved party within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or
affinity, in default of those mentioned in the preceding paragraph; or
(c) Any concerned citizen, organization, association or
institution, if there is no known member of the immediate family or
relative of the aggrieved party.

Indeed, the parents of Sherlyn and Karen failed to allege that there were no
known members of the immediate family or relatives of Merino. The exclusive
and successive order mandated by the above-quoted provision must be
followed. The order of priority is not without reasonto prevent the
indiscriminate and groundless filing of petitions for amparo which may even
prejudice the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party.[39]
The Court notes that the parents of Sherlyn and Karen also filed the petition
for habeas corpus on Merinos behalf. No objection was raised therein for, in
a habeas corpus proceeding, any person may apply for the writ on behalf of the
aggrieved party.[40]

It is thus only with respect to the amparo petition that the parents of Sherlyn
and Karen are precluded from filing the application on Merinos behalf as they are
not authorized parties under the Rule.
G.R. No. 184495
Preliminarily, the Court finds the appellate courts dismissal of the petitions
against then President Arroyo well-taken, owing to her immunity from suit at the
time the habeas corpus and amparo petitions were filed.[41]
Settled is the doctrine that the President, during his tenure of office or actual
incumbency, may not be sued in any civil or criminal case, and there is no need to
provide for it in the Constitution or law. It will degrade the dignity of the high office of
the President, the Head of State, if he can be dragged into court litigations while serving
as such. Furthermore, it is important that he be freed from any form of harassment,
hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the performance of his official
duties and functions. Unlike the legislative and judicial branch, only one constitutes the
executive branch and anything which impairs his usefulness in the discharge of the many
great and important duties imposed upon him by the Constitution necessarily impairs the
operation of the Government. x x x [42]

Parenthetically, the petitions are bereft of any allegation that then President
Arroyo permitted, condoned or performed any wrongdoing against the three
missing persons.
On the issue of whether a military commander may be held liable for the
acts of his subordinates in an amparo proceeding, a brief discussion of the concept
of command responsibility and its application insofar asamparo cases already
decided by the Court is in order.
Rubrico v. Macapagal Arroyo[43] expounded on the concept of command
responsibility as follows:
The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds its
context in the development of laws of war and armed combats.
According to Fr. Bernas, "command responsibility," in its simplest
terms, means the "responsibility of commanders for crimes committed
by subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons subject to
their control in international wars or domestic conflict." In this sense,
command responsibility is properly a form of criminal complicity. The

Hague Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of command


responsibility, foreshadowing the present-day precept of holding a
superior accountable for the atrocities committed by his subordinates
should he be remiss in his duty of control over them. As then formulated,
command responsibility is "an omission mode of individual criminal
liability," whereby the superior is made responsible for crimes
committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or punish the
perpetrators (as opposed to crimes he ordered). (citations omitted;
emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)[44]

It bears stressing that command responsibility is properly a form of criminal


complicity,[45] and thus a substantive rule that points to criminal or administrative
liability.
An amparo proceeding is not criminal in nature nor does it ascertain the
criminal liability of individuals or entities involved. Neither does it partake of a
civil or administrative suit.[46] Rather, it is a remedialmeasure designed to direct
specified courses of action to government agencies to safeguard the constitutional
right to life, liberty and security of aggrieved individuals.[47]
Thus Razon Jr. v. Tagitis [48] enlightens:
[An amparo proceeding] does nor determine guilt nor pinpoint
criminal culpability for the disappearance [threats thereof or extrajudicial
killings]; it determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for
the enforced disappearancefor purposes of imposing the appropriate
remedies to address the disappearance[49] (emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

Further, Tagitis defines


accountability, viz:

what

constitutes

responsibility

x x x. Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been


established by substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way,
by action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a measure of the
remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the
appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in the
proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure

and

of remedies that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement


in the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their
complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or who are
imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who
carry the burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to
discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation of
the enforced disappearance. In all these cases, the issuance of the Writ
of Amparo is justified by our primary goal of addressing the
disappearance, so that the life of the victim is preserved and his liberty
and security are restored.[50] (emphasis in the original; underscoring
supplied)

Rubrico categorically denies the application of command responsibility


in amparo cases to determine criminal liability.[51] The Court maintains its
adherence to this pronouncement as far as amparo cases are concerned.
Rubrico, however, recognizes a preliminary yet limited application of
command responsibility in amparo cases to instances of determining
the responsible or accountable individuals or entities that are duty-bound to abate
any transgression on the life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party.
If command responsibility were to be invoked and applied to these
proceedings, it should, at most, be only to determine the author who,
at the first instance, is accountable for, and has the duty to address,
the disappearance and harassments complained of, so as to enable
the Court to devise remedial measures that may be appropriate
under the premises to protect rights covered by the writ of
amparo. As intimated earlier, however, the determination should not be
pursued to fix criminal liability on respondents preparatory to criminal
prosecution, or as a prelude to administrative disciplinary proceedings
under existing administrative issuances, if there be any.[52] (emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

In other words, command responsibility may be loosely applied


in amparo cases in order to identify those accountable individuals that have the
power to effectively implement whatever processes an amparo court would
issue.[53] In such application, the amparo court does not impute criminal

responsibility but merely pinpoint the superiors it considers to be in the best


position to protect the rights of the aggrieved party.
Such identification of the responsible and accountable superiors may well be
a preliminary determination of criminal liability which, of course, is still subject to
further investigation by the appropriate government agency.
Relatedly, the legislature came up with Republic Act No. 9851 [54] (RA 9851)
to include command responsibility as a form of criminal complicity in crimes
against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes.[55] RA 9851 is
thus the substantive law that definitively imputes criminal liability to those
superiors who, despite their position, still fail to take all necessary and reasonable
measures within their power to prevent or repress the commission of illegal acts or
to submit these matters to the competent authorities for investigation and
prosecution.

The Court finds that the appellate court erred when it did not specifically
name the respondents that it found to be responsible for the abduction and
continued detention of Sherlyn, Karen and Merino. For, from the records, it
appears that the responsible and accountable individuals are Lt. Col. Anotado, Lt.
Mirabelle, Gen. Palparan, Lt. Col. Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas. They
should thus be made to comply with the September 17, 2008 Decision of the
appellate court to IMMEDIATELY RELEASE Sherlyn, Karen and Merino.

The petitions against Generals Esperon, Razon and Tolentino should be


dismissed for lack of merit as there is no showing that they were even remotely
accountable and responsible for the abduction and continued detention of Sherlyn,
Karen and Merino.

G.R. No. 187109.


Contrary to the ruling of the appellate court, there is no need to file a motion
for execution for an amparo or habeas corpus decision. Since the right to life,
liberty and security of a person is at stake, the proceedings should not be delayed

and execution of any decision thereon must be expedited as soon as possible since
any form of delay, even for a day, may jeopardize the very rights that these writs
seek to immediately protect.
The Solicitor Generals argument that the Rules of Court supplement the
Rule on the Writ of Amparo is misplaced. The Rules of Court only find suppletory
application in an amparo proceeding if the Rules strengthen, rather than weaken,
the procedural efficacy of the writ. As it is, the Rule dispenses with dilatory
motions in view of the urgency in securing the life, liberty or security of the
aggrieved party. Suffice it to state that a motion for execution is inconsistent with
the extraordinary and expeditious remedy being offered by an amparo proceeding.
In fine, the appellate court erred in ruling that its directive
to immediately release Sherlyn, Karen and Merino was not automatically
executory. For that would defeat the very purpose of having summary
proceedings[56] in amparo petitions. Summary proceedings, it bears emphasis, are
immediately executory without prejudice to further appeals that may be taken
therefrom.[57]
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing discussions, the Court renders the
following judgment:
1. The
Petitions
in G.R.
Nos.
184461-62 and G.R.
No.
184495 are DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September
17, 2008 is AFFIRMED with modification in that respondents in G.R. No. 184495,
namely Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Gen. Jovito
Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas are ordered to
immediately release Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeo and Manuel Merino from
detention.
The petitions against Generals Esperon, Razon and Tolentino are
DISMISSED.
2. The petition in G.R. No. 187109 is GRANTED. The named respondents
are directed to forthwith comply with the September 17, 2008 Decision of the
appellate court. Owing to the retirement and/or reassignment to other places of
assignment of some of the respondents herein and in G.R. No. 184495, the
incumbent commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division and the incumbent
battalion commander of the 24thInfantry Battalion, both of the Philippine Army, are

enjoined to fully ensure the release of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeo and
Manuel Merino from detention.
Respondents Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Gen.
Jovito Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas shall
remain personally impleaded in the petitions to answer for any responsibilities
and/or accountabilities they may have incurred during their incumbencies.

Let copies of this Decision and the records of these cases be furnished the
Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for further investigation to determine the
respective criminal and administrative liabilities of respondents.
All the present petitions are REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for
appropriate action, directed at monitoring of the DOJ, PNP and AFP investigations
and the validation of their results.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila

EN BANC

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION


FOR THE WRIT OF AMPARO AND
HABEAS DATA IN FAVOR OF NORIEL
H. RODRIGUEZ,

NORIEL H. RODRIGUEZ,
Petitioner,

- versus -

GLORIA
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO,
GEN. VICTOR S. IBRADO, PDG JESUS
AME VERSOZA, LT. GEN. DELFIN
BANGIT, MAJ. GEN. NESTOR Z.
OCHOA, P/CSUPT. AMETO G.
TOLENTINO, P/SSUPT. JUDE W.
SANTOS, COL. REMIGIO M. DE
VERA, an officer named MATUTINA,
LT. COL. MINA, CALOG, GEORGE
PALACPAC under the name
HARRY, ANTONIO CRUZ, ALDWIN
BONG PASICOLAN and VINCENT
CALLAGAN,
Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

G.R. No. 191805

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION


FOR THE WRIT OF AMPARO AND
HABEAS DATA IN FAVOR OF NORIEL
H. RODRIGUEZ,

G.R. No. 193160

POLICE DIR. GEN. JESUS A. VERSOZA,


P/SSUPT. JUDE W. SANTOS, BGEN.
REMEGIO M. DE VERA, 1ST LT. RYAN
S. MATUTINA, LT. COL. LAURENCE E.
MINA, ANTONIO C. CRUZ, ALDWIN
C. PASICOLAN and VICENTE A.
CALLAGAN,

CORONA, C.J.,

Petitioners,

Present:

CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,

- versus -

DEL CASTILLO,*
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,

NORIEL H. RODRIGUEZ,

MENDOZA,
Respondent.

SERENO,
REYES, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

November 15, 2011

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
SERENO, J.:
Before this Court are two consolidated cases, namely, (1) Petition for Partial
Review on Certiorari dated 20 April 2010 (G.R. No. 191805), and (2) Petition for
Review on Certiorari dated 19 August 2010 (G.R. No. 193160).[1] Both Petitions
assail the 12 April 2010 Decision of the Court of Appeals, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition for writ of amparo and writ of habeas data
is GRANTED.

Respondents Gen. Victor S. Ibrado, Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, Maj. Gen. Nestor Z.
Ochoa, PCSupt. Ameto G. Tolentino, PSSupt. Jude W. Santos, Col. Remigio M. De Vera,
Lt. Col. Laurence E. Mina and 1Lt. Ryan S. Matutina, or their replacements in their
official posts if they have already vacated the same, are ORDERED to furnish this Court
within five (5) days from notice of this decision, official or unofficial reports pertaining to
petitioner covering but not limited to intelligence reports, operation reports and
provost marshal reports prior to, during and subsequent to September 6, 2009 made
by the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, its branches and subsidiaries, including the
17th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

The above-named respondents are also DIRECTED to refrain from using the said
reports in any transaction or operation of the military. Necessarily, the afore-named
respondents are ORDERED to expunge from the records of the military all documents
having any reference to petitioner.

Likewise, the afore-named respondents, as well as respondents Police Director


General Jesus Ame Versoza, Antonio Cruz, Aldwin Pasicolan and Vicente Callagan
are DIRECTED to ensure that no further violation of petitioners rights to life, liberty and
security is committed against the latter or any member of his family.

The petition is DISMISSED with respect to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo


on account of her presidential immunity from suit. Similarly, the petition
is DISMISSED with respect to respondents Calog and George Palacpac or Harry for lack
of merit.

Petitioners prayer for issuance of a temporary protection order and inspection


order is DENIED.

Noriel Rodriguez (Rodriguez) is petitioner in G.R. No. 191805 and


respondent in G.R. No. 193160. He is a member of Alyansa Dagiti Mannalon Iti
Cagayan (Kagimungan), a peasant organization affiliated withKilusang
Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
On the other hand, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (former President Arroyo),
Police Director General (PDG.) Jesus A. Verzosa, Police Senior Superintendent
(P/SSupt.) Jude W. Santos, Brigadier General (Brig. Gen.) Remegio M. De Vera,
First Lieutenant (1st Lt.) Ryan S. Matutina, Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Laurence E.
Mina, Antonio C. Cruz (Cruz), Aldwin C. Pasicolan (Pasicolan) and Vicente A.
Callagan (Callagan) are respondents in G.R. No. 191805 and petitioners in G.R. No.
193160. At the time the events relevant to the present Petitions occurred, former
President Arroyo was the President of the Philippines. PDG. Verzosa, P/SSupt.
Santos, Brig. Gen. De Vera, 1st Lt. Matutina and Lt. Col. Mina were officers of the
Philippine National Police (PNP). Cruz, Pasicolan and Callagan were Special
Investigators of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region II.
Antecedent Facts
Rodriguez claims that the military tagged KMP as an enemy of the State
under the Oplan Bantay Laya, making its members targets of extrajudicial killings
and enforced disappearances.[2]
On 6 September 2009, at 5:00 p.m., Rodriguez had just reached Barangay
Tapel, Cagayan onboard a tricycle driven by Hermie Antonio Carlos (Carlos), when
four men forcibly took him and forced him into a car. Inside the vehicle were
several men in civilian clothes, one of whom was holding a .45 caliber pistol.
Subsequently, three more persons arrived, and one of them carried a gun at his
side. Two men boarded the car, while the others rode on the tricycle.[3]

The men tied the hands of Rodriguez, ordered him to lie on his stomach, sat
on his back and started punching him. The car travelled towards the direction of
Sta. Teresita-Mission and moved around the area until about 2:00 a.m. During the
drive, the men forced Rodriguez to confess to being a member of the New
Peoples Army (NPA), but he remained silent. The car then entered a place that
appeared to be a military camp. There were soldiers all over the area, and there
was a banner with the word Bravo written on it. Rodriguez later on learned that
the camp belonged to the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.[4]
Rodriguez was brought to a canteen, where six men confronted him,
ordering him to confess to his membership in the NPA. Due to his exhaustion, he
unintentionally fell asleep. As a result, the men hit him on the head to wake him
up. After the interrogation, two of the men guarded him, but did not allow him to
sleep.[5]
In the morning of 7 September 2009, the men tied the hands of Rodriguez,
blindfolded him and made him board a vehicle. While they were in transit, the
soldiers repeatedly hit him in the head and threatened to kill him. When the car
stopped after about ten minutes, the soldiers brought him to a room, removed
his blindfold, and forced him to confess to being a member of the NPA. During the
interrogation, the soldiers repeatedly hit him on the head. Thereafter, he was
detained inside the room for the entire day. The soldiers tied his stomach to
a papag, and gave him rice and viand. Fearing that the food might be poisoned,
he refused to eat anything. He slept on the papag while being tied to it at the
waist.[6]
On 8 September 2009, the men forced Rodriguez into a vehicle, which
brought them to Bugey and Mission. While passing houses along the way, the
men asked him if his contacts lived in those houses. When he failed to answer, a
soldier pointed a gun to his head and threatened to kill him and his family.
Because he remained silent, the soldiers beat him and tied him up. The vehicle
returned to the military camp at past 1:00 p.m., where he was again subjected to
tactical interrogation about the location of an NPA camp and his alleged NPA
comrades. He suffered incessant mauling every time he failed to answer.[7]
At dawn on 9 September 2009, soldiers armed with rifles took Rodriguez
and made him their guide on their way to an NPA camp in Birao. Accompanying
them was a man named Harry, who, according to the soldiers, was an NPA
member who had surrendered to the military. Harry pointed to Rodriguez and

called him a member of the NPA. He also heard Harry tell the soldiers that the
latter knew the area well and was acquainted with a man named Elvis. The
soldiers loaded Rodriguez into a military truck and drove to Tabbak, Bugey. While
he was walking with the soldiers, he noticed a soldier with the name tag
Matutina, who appeared to be an official because the other soldiers addressed
him as sir.[8]
Upon reaching Birao on foot, the soldiers looked for and was able to locate a
certain Elvis and told him that Rodriguez had identified his whereabouts location.
The soldiers forced Rodriguez to convince Elvis to disclose the location of the NPA
camp. They brought the two to the mountains, where both were threatened with
death. When the soldiers punched Elvis, Rodriguez told them that he would
reveal the location of the NPA camp if they let Elvis go home. They finally released
Elvis around 3:00 p.m. that day. The soldiers and Rodriguez spent the next three
nights in the mountains.[9]
On 12 September 2009, the soldiers again hit Rodriguez and forced him to
identify the location of the NPA camp. He was blindfolded and warned to get
ready because they would beat him up again in the military camp. Upon arrival
therein, they brought him to the same room where he had first been detained,
and two soldiers mauled him again. They repeatedly punched and kicked him. In
the afternoon, they let him rest and gave him an Alaxan tablet. Thereafter, he fell
asleep due to over-fatigue and extreme body pain. The soldiers, however, hit him
again. After giving him a pen and a piece of paper, they ordered him to write
down his request for rice from the people. When he refused, the soldiers
maltreated him once more.[10]
On 13 September 2009, the soldiers forced Rodriguez to sign documents
declaring that he had surrendered in an encounter in Cumao, and

that the soldiers did not shoot him because he became a military asset in May.
When he refused to sign the document, he received another beating. Thus, he
was compelled to sign, but did so using a different signature to show that he was
merely coerced.[11]

The soldiers showed Rodriguez photographs of different persons and asked


him if he knew the men appearing therein. When he told them that he did not
recognize the individuals on the photos, the soldiers instructed him to write down
the name of his school and organization, but he declined. The soldiers then wrote
something on the paper, making it appear that he was the one who had written it,
and forced him to sign the document. The soldiers took photographs of him while
he was signing. Afterwards, the soldiers forced him down, held his hands, and sat
on his feet. He did not only receive another beating, but was also electrocuted.
The torture lasted for about an hour.[12]
At 11:00 p.m. on 15 September 2009, the soldiers brought Rodriguez to a
military operation in the mountains, where he saw Matutina again. They all spent
the night there.[13]
In the morning of 16 September 2009, the soldiers and Rodriguez started
their descent. When they stopped, the soldiers took his photograph and asked
him to name the location of the NPA camp. Thereafter, they all returned to the
military camp. The soldiers asked him to take a bath and wear a white polo shirt
handed to him. He was then brought to the Enrile Medical Center, where Dr.
Juliet Ramil (Dr. Ramil) examined him.[14]When the doctor asked him why he had
bruises and contusions, he lied and told her that he sustained them when he
slipped, as he noticed a soldier observing him. Dr. Ramils medical certificate
indicated that he suffered from four hematomas in the epigastric area, chest and
sternum.[15]
Back at the camp, the soldiers let Rodriguez eat with several military officials
and took pictures of him while he was eating with them. They also asked him to
point to a map in front of him and again took his photograph. Later, they told him
[16]
that he would finally see his mother.
Rodriguez was brought to another military camp, where he was ordered to
sign a piece of paper stating that he was a surrenderee and was never beaten up.
Scared and desperate to end his ordeal, he signed the paper and was warned not
to report anything to the media.[17]
Around 6:00 a.m. on 17 September 2009, the soldiers instructed petitioner
to take a bath. They gave him a pair of jeans and perfume. While he was having
breakfast, the two soldiers guarding him repeatedly reminded him not to disclose

to the media his experience in the camp and to say instead that he had
surrendered to the military.[18]
At 9:00 a.m. on the same day, the mother and the brother of Rodriguez
arrived surrounded by several men. His mother, Wilma Rodriguez (Wilma), talked
to Lt. Col. Mina. Rodriguez heard one of the soldiers tell Wilma that he had
surrendered to the military and had long been its asset. His brother, Rodel
Rodriguez (Rodel), informed him that the men accompanying them were from the
CHR, namely, Pasicolan, Cruz and Callagan. Upon seeing Rodriguez, Cruz
instructed him to lift up his shirt, and one of the CHR employees took
photographs of his bruises.[19]
A soldier tried to convince Wilma to let Rodriguez stay in the camp for
another two weeks to supposedly prevent the NPA from taking revenge on him.
Respondent Calog also approached Rodriguez and Rodel and asked them to
become military assets. Rodel refused and insisted that they take Rodriguez home
to Manila. Again, the soldiers reminded them to refrain from facing the media.
The soldiers also told them that the latter will be taken to the Tuguegarao Airport
and guarded until they reached home.[20]
Rodriguez and his family missed their flight. Subsequently, the soldiers
accompanied them to the CHR office, where Rodriguez was made to sign an
affidavit stating that he was neither abducted nor tortured. Afraid and desperate
to return home, he was forced to sign the document. Cruz advised him not to file
a case against his abductors because they had already freed him. The CHR
personnel then led him and his family to the CHR Toyota Tamaraw FX service
vehicle. He noticed that a vehicle with soldiers on board followed them.[21]
The Tamaraw FX pulled over and respondent 1st Lt. Matutina boarded the
vehicle. Upon reaching a mall in Isabela, Rodriguez, his family, Callagan, 1st Lt.
Matutina and two other soldiers transferred to an orange Toyota Revo with plate
number WTG 579. Upon reaching the boundary of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Viscaya,
1st Lt. Matutina alighted and called Rodriguez to a diner. A certain Alan approached
Rodriguez and handed him a cellphone with a SIM card. The latter and his family
then left and resumed their journey back home.[22]
Rodriguez reached his house in Sta. Ana, Manila at 3:00 a.m. on 18 September
2010. Callagan and two soldiers went inside the house, and took photographs and a
video footage thereof. The soldiers explained that the photos and videos would

serve as evidence of the fact that Rodriguez and his family were able to arrive home
safely. Despite Rodriguezs efforts to confront the soldiers about their acts, they still
continued and only left thirty minutes later.[23]
On 19 September 2009, Dr. Reginaldo Pamugas, a physician trained by the
International Committee on Torture and Rehabilitation, examined Rodriguez and
issued a Medical Certificate stating that the latter had been a victim of torture.[24]
Around 7:00 a.m. on 3 November 2010, Rodriguez and his girlfriend, Aileen
Hazel Robles, noticed that several suspicious-looking men followed them at the
Metro Rail Transit (MRT), in the streets and on a jeepney.[25]
On 7 December 2009, Rodriguez filed before this Court a Petition for the
Writ of Amparo and Petition for the Writ of Habeas Data with Prayers for
Protection Orders, Inspection of Place, and Production of Documents and
Personal Properties dated 2 December 2009.[26] The petition was filed against
former President Arroyo, Gen. Ibrado, PDG. Versoza, Lt. Gen. Bangit, Major
General (Maj. Gen.) Nestor Z. Ochoa, P/CSupt. Tolentino, P/SSupt. Santos, Col. De
Vera, 1st Lt. Matutina, Calog, George Palacpac (Palacpac), Cruz, Pasicolan and
Callagan. The petition prayed for the following reliefs:
a.
The issuance of the writ of amparo ordering respondents to desist
from violating Rodriguezs right to life, liberty and security.
b.
The issuance of an order to enjoin respondents from doing harm to
or approaching Rodriguez, his family and his witnesses.
c.
Allowing the inspection of the detention areas of the Headquarters
of Bravo Co., 5th Infantry Division, Maguing, Gonzaga, Cagayan and another
place near where Rodriguez was brought.
d.
Ordering respondents to produce documents submitted to them
regarding any report on Rodriguez, including operation reports and

provost marshall reports of the 5th Infantry Division, the Special Operations
Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), prior to, on and
subsequent to 6 September 2009.

e.
Ordering records pertinent or in any way connected to Rodriguez,
which are in the custody of respondents, to be expunged, disabused, and
forever barred from being used.[27]
On 15 December 2009, we granted the respective writs after finding that
the petition sufficiently alleged that Rodriguez had been abducted, tortured and
later released by members of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine
Army.[28] We likewise ordered respondents therein to file a verified return on the
writs on or before 22 December 2009 and to comment on the petition on or
before 4 January 2010.[29] Finally, we directed the Court of Appeals to hear the
petition on 4 January 2010 and decide on the case within 10 days after its
submission for decision.[30]
During the initial hearing on 4 January 2010, the Court of Appeals required
the parties to submit affidavits and other pieces of evidence at the next scheduled
hearing on 27 January 2010.[31]
On 8 January 2010, respondents therein, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), filed their Return of the Writ, which was likewise considered as
their comment on the petition.[32] In their Return, respondents therein alleged
that Rodriguez had surrendered to the military on 28 May 2009 after he had been
put under surveillance and identified as Ka Pepito by former
rebels.[33] According to his military handlers, Corporal (Cpl.) Rodel

B. Cabaccan and Cpl. Julius P. Navarro, Rodriguez was a former member of the
NPA operating in Cagayan Valley.[34] Wanting to bolt from the NPA, he told Cpl.
Cabaccan and Cpl. Navarro that he would help the military in exchange for his
protection.[35]
Upon his voluntary surrender on 28 May 2009, Rodriguez was made to sign
an Oath of Loyalty and an Agents Agreement/Contract, showing his willingness to
return to society and become a military asset.[36]Since then, he acted as a double
agent, returning to the NPA to gather information.[37] However, he feared that his
NPA comrades were beginning to suspect him of being an infiltrator.[38] Thus,
with his knowledge and consent, the soldiers planned to stage a sham abduction

to erase any suspicion about him being a double agent.[39] Hence, the abduction
subject of the instant petition was conducted.[40]
Meanwhile, Cruz, Pasicolan and Callagan filed a Consolidated Return of the
Writ dated 15 January 2010,[41] alleging that they had exercised extraordinary
diligence in locating Rodriguez, facilitating his safe turnover to his family and
securing their journey back home to Manila. More specifically, they alleged that, on
16 September 2009, after Wilma sought their assistance in ascertaining the
whereabouts of her son, Cruz made phone calls to the military and law
enforcement agencies to determine his location.[42] Cruz was able to speak with Lt.
Col. Mina, who confirmed that Rodriguez was in their custody.[43] This information
was transmitted to CHR Regional Director Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga. He, in turn,
ordered Cruz, Pasicolan and Callagan to accompany Wilma to the 17th Infantry
Division.[44]
When the CHR officers, along with Wilma and Rodel, arrived at the
17 Infantry Battalion at Masin, Alcala, Cagayan, Brigade Commander Col. de Vera
and Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Mina alleged that Rodriguez had become one
of their assets, as evidenced by the Summary on the Surrender of Noriel
Rodriguez and the latters Contract as Agent.[45] The CHR officers observed his
casual and cordial demeanor with the soldiers.[46] In any case, Cruz asked him to
raise his shirt to see if he had been subjected to any maltreatment. Cruz and
Pasicolan did not see any traces of torture. Thereafter, Rodriguez was released to
his family, and they were made to sign a certification to this effect. During the
signing of the document, herein CHR officers did not witness any threat,
intimidation or force employed against Rodriguez or his family. [47]
th

During their journey back to the home of Rodriguez, the CHR officers
observed that he was very much at ease with his military escorts, especially with
1st Lt. Matutina.[48] Neither was there any force or intimidation when the soldiers
took pictures of his house, as the taking of photographs was performed with
Wilmas
consent.[49]

During the hearing on 27 January 2010, the parties agreed to file additional
affidavits and position papers and to have the case considered submitted for
decision after the filing of these pleadings.[50]
On 12 April 2010, the Court of Appeals rendered its assailed
Decision.[51] Subsequently, on 28 April 2010, respondents therein filed their
Motion for Reconsideration.[52] Before the Court of Appeals could resolve this
Motion for Reconsideration, Rodriguez filed the instant Petition for Partial Review
on Certiorari (G.R. No. 191805), raising the following assignment of errors:

a.
The Court of Appeals erred in not granting the Interim Relief for temporary
protection order.

b.
The Court of Appeals erred in saying: (H)owever, given the nature of the writ
of amparo, which has the effect of enjoining the commission by respondents of violation
to petitioners right to life, liberty and security, the safety of petitioner is ensured with
the issuance of the writ, even in the absence of an order preventing respondent from
approaching petitioner.

c.
The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that respondent Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo had command responsibility.[53]

On the other hand, respondents therein, in their Comment dated 30


July 2010, averred:

a.
The Court of Appeals properly dropped then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
as a party-respondent, as she may not be sued in any case during her tenure of office or
actual incumbency.

b.
Petitioner had not presented any adequate and competent evidence, much less
substantial evidence, to establish his claim that public respondents had violated, were
violating or threatening to violate his rights to life, liberty and security, as well as his
right to privacy. Hence, he was not entitled to the privilege of the writs
of amparo and habeas data or to the corresponding interim reliefs (i.e. inspection order,
production order and temporary protection order) provided under the rule on the writ
of amparo and the rule on the writ of habeas data.[54]

On 19 August 2010, PDG. Verzosa, P/SSupt. Santos, BGen. De Vera, 1st Lt.
Matutina, Lt. Col. Mina, Cruz, Pasicolan and Callagan filed a Petition for Review on
Certiorari, seeking the reversal of the 12 April 2010 Decision of the Court of
Appeals.[55] They alleged that Rodriguez

Has not presented any adequate and competent evidence, must less substantial
evidence, to establish his claim that petitioners have violated, are violating or
threatening with violation his rights to life, liberty and security, as well as his right to
privacy; hence, he is not entitled to the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data
and their corresponding interim reliefs (i.e., inspection order, production order and
temporary protection order) provided under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo and the
Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data.[56]

In ascertaining whether the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in


issuing its assailed Decision and Resolution, the following issues must be resolved:
I.

Whether the interim reliefs prayed for by Rodriguez may be granted


after the writs of amparo and habeas data have already been issued
in his favor.

II.

Whether former President Arroyo should be dropped as a respondent


on the basis of the presidential immunity from suit.

III.

Whether the doctrine of command responsibility can be used in


amparo and habeas data cases.

IV.

Whether the rights to life, liberty and property of Rodriguez were


violated or threatened by respondents in G.R. No. 191805.

At the outset, it must be emphasized that the writs of amparo and habeas
data were promulgated to ensure the protection of the peoples rights to life,
liberty and security.[57] The rules on these writs were issued in light of the
alarming prevalence of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.[58] The
Rule on the Writ of Amparo took effect on 24 October 2007,[59] and the Rule on
the Writ of Habeas Data on 2 February 2008.[60]
The writ of amparo is an extraordinary and independent remedy that
provides rapid judicial relief, as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires
only substantial evidence to make the appropriate interim and permanent reliefs
available to the petitioner.[61] It is not an action to determine criminal guilt
requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages requiring
preponderance of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring substantial
evidence that will require full and exhaustive proceedings.[62] Rather, it serves
both preventive and curative roles in addressing the problem of extrajudicial
killings and enforced disappearances.[63] It is preventive in that it breaks the
expectation of impunity in the commission of these offenses, and it is curative in
that it facilitates the subsequent punishment of perpetrators by inevitably leading
to subsequent investigation and action.[64]
Meanwhile, the writ of habeas data provides a judicial remedy to protect a
persons right to control information regarding oneself, particularly in instances
where such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to
achieve unlawful ends.[65] As an independent and summary remedy to protect the
right to privacy especially the right to informational privacy[66] the proceedings
for the issuance of the writ of habeas data does not entail any finding of criminal,
civil or administrative culpability. If the allegations in the petition are proven
through substantial evidence, then the Court may (a) grant access to the database
or information; (b) enjoin the act complained of; or (c) in case the database or
information contains erroneous data or information, order its deletion,
destruction or rectification.[67]

First issue: Grant of interim reliefs

In the petition in G.R. No. 191805, Rodriguez prays for the issuance of a
temporary protection order. It must be underscored that this interim relief is only
available before final judgment. Section 14 of the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo clearly provides:

Interim Reliefs. Upon filing of the petition or at anytime before final


judgment, the court, justice or judge may grant any of the following reliefs:

Temporary Protection Order. The court, justice or judge, upon motion or


motu proprio, may order that the petitioner or the aggrieved party and any member of
the immediate family be protected in a government agency or by an accredited person
or private institution capable of keeping and securing their safety. If the petitioner is an
organization, association or institution referred to in Section 3(c) of this Rule, the
protection may be extended to the officers involved.

The Supreme Court shall accredit the persons and private institutions that shall
extend temporary protection to the petitioner or the aggrieved party and any member
of the immediate family, in accordance with guidelines which it shall issue.

The accredited persons and private institutions shall comply with the rules and
conditions that may be imposed by the court, justice or judge.

(a)
Inspection Order. The court, justice or judge, upon verified motion
and after due hearing, may order any person in possession or control of a designated
land or other property, to permit entry for the purpose of inspecting, measuring,
surveying, or photographing the property or any relevant object or operation thereon.

The motion shall state in detail the place or places to be inspected. It shall be
supported by affidavits or testimonies of witnesses having personal knowledge of the
enforced disappearance or whereabouts of the aggrieved party.

If the motion is opposed on the ground of national security or of the privileged


nature of the information, the court, justice or judge may conduct a hearing in
chambers to determine the merit of the opposition.

The movant must show that the inspection order is necessary to establish the
right of the aggrieved party alleged to be threatened or violated.

The inspection order shall specify the person or persons authorized to make the
inspection and the date, time, place and manner of making the inspection and may
prescribe other conditions to protect the constitutional rights of all parties. The order
shall expire five (5) days after the date of its issuance, unless extended for justifiable
reasons.

(b)
Production Order. The court, justice, or judge, upon verified motion
and after due hearing, may order any person in possession, custody or control of any
designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or
tangible things, or objects in digitized or electronic form, which constitute or contain
evidence relevant to the petition or the return, to produce and permit their inspection,
copying or photographing by or on behalf of the movant.

The motion may be opposed on the ground of national security or of the


privileged nature of the information, in which case the court, justice or judge may
conduct a hearing in chambers to determine the merit of the opposition.

The court, justice or judge shall prescribe other conditions to protect the
constitutional rights of all the parties.

(c)
Witness Protection Order. The court, justice or judge, upon motion or
motu proprio, may refer the witnesses to the Department of Justice for admission to the
Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program, pursuant to Republic Act No. 6981.

The court, justice or judge may also refer the witnesses to other government
agencies, or to accredited persons or private institutions capable of keeping and
securing their safety. (Emphasis supplied)

We held in Yano v. Sanchez[68] that *t+hese provisional reliefs are intended


to assist the court before it arrives at a judicious determination of
the amparo petition. Being interim reliefs, they can only be granted before a final
adjudication of the case is made. In any case, it must be underscored that the
privilege of the writ of amparo, once granted, necessarily entails the protection of
the aggrieved party. Thus, since we grant petitioner the privilege of the writ
of amparo, there is no need to issue a temporary protection order independently
of the former. The order restricting respondents from going near Rodriguez is
subsumed under the privilege of the writ.

Second issue: Presidential immunity from


suit
It bears stressing that since there is no determination of administrative,
civil or criminal liability in amparo and habeas data proceedings, courts can only
go as far as ascertaining responsibility or accountability for the enforced
disappearance or extrajudicial killing. As we held in Razon v. Tagitis:[69]

It does not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the
disappearance; rather, it determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the
enforced disappearance for purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address
the disappearance. Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established
by substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in
an enforced disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among
them, the directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the
responsible parties in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the
measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in
the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity to the level
of responsibility defined above; or who are imputed with knowledge relating to the
enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those who carry,
but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the

investigation of the enforced disappearance. In all these cases, the issuance of the Writ
of Amparo is justified by our primary goal of addressing the disappearance, so that the
life of the victim is preserved and his liberty and security are restored.

[70]

(Emphasis

supplied.)

Thus, in the case at bar, the Court of Appeals, in its Decision[71] found
respondents in G.R. No. 191805 with the exception of Calog, Palacpac or Harry to
be accountable for the violations of Rodriguezs right to life, liberty and security
committed by the 17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine
Army. [72] The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition with respect to former
President Arroyo on account of her presidential immunity from suit. Rodriguez
contends, though, that she should remain a respondent in this case to enable the
courts to determine whether she is responsible or accountable therefor. In this
regard, it must be clarified that the Court of Appeals rationale for dropping her
from the list of respondents no longer stands since her presidential immunity is
limited only to her incumbency.
In Estrada v. Desierto,[73] we clarified the doctrine that a non-sitting
President does not enjoy immunity from suit, even for acts committed during the
latters tenure. We emphasize our ruling therein that courts should look with
disfavor upon the presidential privilege of immunity, especially when it impedes
the search for truth or impairs the vindication of a right, to wit:

We reject *Estradas+ argument that he cannot be prosecuted for the reason


that he must first be convicted in the impeachment proceedings. The impeachment trial
of petitioner Estrada was aborted by the walkout of the prosecutors and by the events
that led to his loss of the presidency. Indeed, on February 7, 2001, the Senate passed
Senate Resolution No. 83 Recognizing that the Impeachment Court is Functus Officio.
Since the Impeachment Court is now functus officio, it is untenable for petitioner to
demand that he should first be impeached and then convicted before he can be
prosecuted. The plea if granted, would put a perpetual bar against his prosecution. Such
a submission has nothing to commend itself for it will place him in a better situation
than a non-sitting President who has not been subjected to impeachment proceedings
and yet can be the object of a criminal prosecution. To be sure, the debates in the
Constitutional Commission make it clear that when impeachment proceedings have
become moot due to the resignation of the President, the proper criminal and civil cases
may already be filed against him, viz:

xxx

xxx

xxx

Mr. Aquino. On another point, if an impeachment proceeding


has been filed against the President, for example, and the President
resigns before judgment of conviction has been rendered by the
impeachment court or by the body, how does it affect the impeachment
proceeding? Will it be necessarily dropped?

Mr. Romulo. If we decide the purpose of impeachment to


remove one from office, then his resignation would render the case
moot and academic. However, as the provision says, the criminal and
civil aspects of it may continue in the ordinary courts.

This is in accord with our ruling in In Re: Saturnino Bermudez that incumbent
Presidents are immune from suit or from being brought to court during the period of
their incumbency and tenure but not beyond. xxx

We now come to the scope of immunity that can be claimed by petitioner as a


non-sitting President. The cases filed against petitioner Estrada are criminal in character.
They involve plunder, bribery and graft and corruption. By no stretch of the imagination
can these crimes, especially plunder which carries the death penalty, be covered by the
alleged mantle of immunity of a non-sitting president. Petitioner cannot cite any
decision of this Court licensing the President to commit criminal acts and wrapping him
with post-tenure immunity from liability. It will be anomalous to hold that immunity is
an inoculation from liability for unlawful acts and omissions. The rule is that unlawful
acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts illegally is not
acting as such but stands in the same footing as any other trespasser.

Indeed, a critical reading of current literature on executive immunity will


reveal a judicial disinclination to expand the privilege especially when it impedes the
search for truth or impairs the vindication of a right. In the 1974 case of US v. Nixon, US
President Richard Nixon, a sitting President, was subpoenaed to produce certain
recordings and documents relating to his conversations with aids and advisers. Seven

advisers of President Nixon's associates were facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct


justice and other offenses which were committed in a burglary of the Democratic
National Headquarters in Washington's Watergate Hotel during the 1972 presidential
campaign. President Nixon himself was named an unindicted co-conspirator. President
Nixon moved to quash the subpoena on the ground, among others, that the President
was not subject to judicial process and that he should first be impeached and removed
from office before he could be made amenable to judicial proceedings. The claim was
rejected by the US Supreme Court. It concluded that when the ground for asserting
privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on
the generalized interest in confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental
demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice. In the 1982
case of Nixon v. Fitzgerald, the US Supreme Court further held that the immunity of the
President from civil damages covers only official acts. Recently, the US Supreme Court
had the occasion to reiterate this doctrine in the case of Clinton v. Jones where it held
that the US President's immunity from suits for money damages arising out of their
official acts is inapplicable to unofficial conduct.

[74]

(Emphasis supplied)

Further, in our Resolution in Estrada v. Desierto,[75] we reiterated that the


presidential immunity from suit exists only in concurrence with the presidents
incumbency:

Petitioner stubbornly clings to the contention that he is entitled to absolute


immunity from suit. His arguments are merely recycled and we need not prolong the
longevity of the debate on the subject. In our Decision, we exhaustively traced the origin
of executive immunity in our jurisdiction and its bends and turns up to the present time.
We held that given the intent of the 1987 Constitution to breathe life to the policy that
a public office is a public trust, the petitioner, as a non-sitting President, cannot claim
executive immunity for his alleged criminal acts committed while a sitting
President. Petitioner's rehashed arguments including their thinly disguised new spins
are based on the rejected contention that he is still President, albeit, a President on
leave. His stance that his immunity covers his entire term of office or until June 30, 2004
disregards the reality that he has relinquished the presidency and there is now a new de
jure President.

Petitioner goes a step further and avers that even a non-sitting President enjoys
immunity from suit during his term of office. He buttresses his position with the
deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, viz:

Mr. Suarez. Thank you.

The last question is with reference to the Committee's


omitting in the draft proposal the immunity provision for the President.
I agree with Commissioner Nolledo that the Committee did very well in
striking out this second sentence, at the very least, of the original
provision on immunity from suit under the 1973 Constitution. But would
the Committee members not agree to a restoration of at least the first
sentence that the president shall be immune from suit during his
tenure, considering that if we do not provide him that kind of an
immunity, he might be spending all his time facing litigations, as the
President-in-exile in Hawaii is now facing litigations almost daily?

Fr. Bernas:

The reason for the omission is that we consider it


understood in present jurisprudence that during his tenure he is
immune from suit.

Mr. Suarez:

So there is no need to express it here.

Fr. Bernas:

There is no need. It was that way before. The only


innovation made by the 1973 Constitution was to make that explicit and
to add other things.

Mr. Suarez:

On the understanding, I will not press for any more


query, madam President.
I thank the Commissioner for the clarification.

Petitioner, however, fails to distinguish between term and tenure. The term
means the time during which the officer may claim to hold the office as of right, and fixes
the interval after which the several incumbents shall succeed one another. The tenure
represents the term during which the incumbent actually holds office. The tenure may be
shorter than the term for reasons within or beyond the power of the incumbent. From the
deliberations, the intent of the framers is clear that the immunity of the president from
[76]

suit is concurrent only with his tenure and not his term.

(Emphasis supplied)

Applying the foregoing rationale to the case at bar, it is clear that former
President Arroyo cannot use the presidential immunity from suit to shield herself
from judicial scrutiny that would assess whether, within the context
of amparo proceedings, she was responsible or accountable for the abduction of
Rodriguez.
Third issue: Command
in amparo proceedings

responsibility

To attribute responsibility or accountability to former President Arroyo,


Rodriguez contends that the doctrine of command responsibility may be applied.
As we explained in Rubrico v. Arroyo,[77] command responsibility pertains to the
responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of
the armed forces or other persons subject to their control in international wars or
domestic conflict.[78]Although originally used for ascertaining criminal complicity,
the command responsibility doctrine has also found application in civil cases for
human rights abuses.[79] In the United States, for example, command
responsibility was used in Ford v. Garcia and Romagoza v. Garcia civil actions
filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act.[80] This
development in the use of command responsibility in civil proceedings shows that
the application of this doctrine has been liberally extended even to cases not

criminal in nature. Thus, it is our view that command responsibility may likewise
find application in proceedings seeking the privilege of the writ of amparo. As we
held in Rubrico:

It may plausibly be contended that command responsibility, as legal basis to


hold military/police commanders liable for extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances,
or threats, may be made applicable to this jurisdiction on the theory that the command
responsibility doctrine now constitutes a principle of international law or customary
international law in accordance with the incorporation clause of the Constitution.

If command responsibility were to be invoked and applied to these


proceedings, it should, at most, be only to determine the author who, at the first
instance, is accountable for, and has the duty to address, the disappearance and
harassments complained of, so as to enable the Court to devise remedial measures
that may be appropriate under the premises to protect rights covered by the writ of
amparo. As intimated earlier, however, the determination should not be pursued to fix
criminal liability on respondents preparatory to criminal prosecution, or as a prelude to
administrative disciplinary proceedings under existing administrative issuances, if there
[81]

be any.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Precisely in the case at bar, the doctrine of command responsibility may be


used to determine whether respondents are accountable for and have the duty to
address the abduction of Rodriguez in order to enable the courts to devise
remedial measures to protect his rights. Clearly, nothing precludes this Court from
applying the doctrine of command responsibility in amparo proceedings to
ascertain responsibility and accountability in extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances. In this regard, the Separate Opinion of Justice Conchita CarpioMorales in Rubrico is worth noting, thus:
That proceedings under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo do not
determine criminal, civil or administrative liability should not abate
the applicability of the doctrine of command responsibility. Taking
Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo and Razon v. Tagitis in proper

context, they do not preclude the application of the doctrine of command


responsibility to Amparo cases.
Manalo was actually emphatic on the importance of the right to
security of person and its contemporary signification as a guarantee of
protection of ones rights by the government. It further stated
that protection includes conducting effective investigations,
organization of the government apparatus to extend protection to
victims of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances, or threats
thereof, and/or their families, and bringing offenders to the bar of
justice.
Tagitis, on the other hand, cannot be more categorical on the
application, at least in principle, of the doctrine of command
responsibility:
Given their mandates, the PNP and PNP-CIDG
officials and members were the ones who were remiss in
their duties when the government completely failed to
exercise the extraordinary diligence that the Amparo Rule
requires. We hold these organizations accountable
through their incumbent Chiefs who, under this
Decision, shall carry the personal responsibility of seeing to
it that extraordinary diligence, in the manner the Amparo
Rule requires, is applied in addressing the enforced
disappearance of Tagitis.
Neither does Republic Act No. 9851 emasculate the applicability
of the command responsibility doctrine to Amparo cases. The short title
of the law is the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International
Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against
Humanity. Obviously, it should, as it did, only treat of superior
responsibility as a ground for criminal responsibility for the crimes
covered. Such limited treatment, however, is merely in keeping with the
statutes purpose and not intended to rule out the application of the
doctrine of command responsibility to other appropriate cases.
Indeed, one can imagine the innumerable dangers of insulating
high-ranking military and police officers from the coverage of reliefs
available under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. The explicit adoption of

the doctrine of command responsibility in the present case will only


bring Manalo and Tagitis to their logical conclusion.
In fine, I submit that the Court should take this opportunity to
state what the law ought to be if it truly wants to make the Writ of
Amparo an effective remedy for victims of extralegal killings and
enforced disappearances or threats thereof. While there is a genuine
dearth of evidence to hold respondents Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and
P/Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon accountable under the command
responsibility doctrine, the ponencias hesitant application of the
doctrine itself is replete with implications abhorrent to the rationale
behind the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.[82] (Emphasis supplied.)

This Separate Opinion was reiterated in the recently decided case of Boac v.
Cadapan,[83] likewise penned by Justice Carpio-Morales, wherein this Court ruled:

Rubrico categorically denies the application of command responsibility


in amparo cases to determine criminal liability. The Court maintains its adherence to
this pronouncement as far as amparo cases are concerned.

Rubrico, however, recognizes a preliminary yet limited application of


command
responsibility
in amparo cases to
instances
of
determining
the responsible or accountable individuals or entities that are duty-bound to abate any
transgression on the life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party.

If command responsibility were to be invoked and applied to


these proceedings, it should, at most, be only to determine the
author who, at the first instance, is accountable for, and has the duty
to address, the disappearance and harassments complained of, so
as to enable the Court to devise remedial measures that may be
appropriate under the premises to protect rights covered by the writ of
amparo. As intimated earlier, however, the determination should not
be pursued to fix criminal liability on respondents preparatory to
criminal prosecution, or as a prelude to administrative disciplinary
proceedings under existing administrative issuances, if there be any.

In other words, command responsibility may be loosely applied


in amparo cases in order to identify those accountable individuals that have the power
to effectively implement whatever processes an amparo court would issue. In such
application, the amparo court does not impute criminal responsibility but merely
pinpoint the superiors it considers to be in the best position to protect the rights of the
aggrieved party.

Such identification of the responsible and accountable superiors may well be a


preliminary determination of criminal liability which, of course, is still subject to further
investigation by the appropriate government agency. (Emphasis supplied.)

As earlier pointed out, amparo proceedings determine (a) responsibility, or


the extent the actors have been established by substantial evidence to
have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced
disappearance, and (b) accountability, or the measure of remedies that should be
addressed to those (i) who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance
without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined
above; or (ii) who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced
disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or (iii) those who carry,
but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the
investigation of the enforced disappearance. Thus, although there is no
determination of criminal, civil or administrative liabilities, the doctrine of
command responsibility may nevertheless be applied to ascertain responsibility
and accountability within these foregoing definitions.
a.
Command responsibility of the
President
Having established the applicability of the doctrine of command
responsibility in amparo proceedings, it must now be resolved whether the
president, as commander-in-chief of the military, can be held responsible or
accountable for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. We rule in the
affirmative.
To hold someone liable under the doctrine of command responsibility, the
following elements must obtain:

a.

the existence of a superior-subordinate relationship between the


accused as superior and the perpetrator of the crime as his
subordinate;

b.

the superior knew or had reason to know that the crime was about
to be or had been committed; and

c.

the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to


prevent the criminal acts or punish the perpetrators thereof.[84]

The president, being the commander-in-chief of all armed


forces,[85] necessarily possesses control over the military that qualifies him as a
superior within the purview of the command responsibility doctrine. [86]
On the issue of knowledge, it must be pointed out that although
international tribunals apply a strict standard of knowledge, i.e., actual
knowledge, such may nonetheless be established through circumstantial
evidence.[87] In the Philippines, a more liberal view is adopted and superiors may
be charged with constructive knowledge. This view is buttressed by the
enactment of Executive Order No. 226, otherwise known as theInstitutionalization
of the Doctrine of Command Responsibility in all Government Offices, particularly
at all Levels of Command in the Philippine National Police and other Law
Enforcement Agencies (E.O. 226).[88]Under E.O. 226, a government official may be
held liable for neglect of duty under the doctrine of command responsibility if he
has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed, is being committed, or
has been committed by his subordinates, or by others within his area of
responsibility and, despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or
corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its
commission.[89]Knowledge of the commission of irregularities, crimes or offenses
is presumed when (a) the acts are widespread within the government officials
area of jurisdiction; (b) the acts have been repeatedly or regularly committed
within his area of responsibility; or (c) members of his immediate staff or office
personnel are involved.[90]
Meanwhile, as to the issue of failure to prevent or punish, it is important to
note that as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the president has the
power to effectively command, control and discipline the military.[91]

b.
Responsibility
or
accountability of former President
Arroyo
The next question that must be tackled is whether Rodriguez has proven
through substantial evidence that former President Arroyo is responsible or
accountable for his abduction. We rule in the negative.
Rodriguez anchors his argument on a general allegation that on the basis of
the Melo Commission and the Alston Report, respondents in G.R. No. 191805
already had knowledge of and information on, and should have known that a
climate of enforced disappearances had been perpetrated on members of the
NPA.[92] Without even attaching, or at the very least, quoting these reports,
Rodriguez contends that the Melo Report points to rogue military men as the
perpetrators. While the Alston Report states that there is a policy allowing
enforced disappearances and pins the blame on the President, we do not
automatically impute responsibility to former President Arroyo for each and every
count of forcible disappearance.[93] Aside from Rodriguezs general averments,
there is no piece of evidence that could establish her responsibility or
accountability for his abduction. Neither was there even a clear attempt to show
that she should have known about the violation of his right to life, liberty or
security, or that she had failed to investigate, punish or prevent it.

Fourth
issue:
Responsibility
or
accountability of respondents in G.R. No.
191805
The doctrine of totality of evidence in amparo cases was first laid down in
this Courts ruling in Razon,[94] to wit:

The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to consider all the pieces of evidence
adduced in their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible under our
usual rules to be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible evidence adduced. In
other words, we reduce our rules to the most basic test of reason i.e., to the relevance
of the evidence to the issue at hand and its consistency with all other pieces of adduced

evidence. Thus, even hearsay evidence can be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum
test.

[95]

(Emphasis supplied.)

In the case at bar, we find no reason to depart from the factual findings of
the Court of Appeals, the same being supported by substantial evidence. A careful
examination of the records of this case reveals that the totality of the evidence
adduced by Rodriguez indubitably prove the responsibility and accountability of
some respondents in G.R. No. 191805 for violating his right to life, liberty and
security.

a.
The totality of evidence
proved by substantial evidence the
responsibility or accountability of
respondents for the violation of or
threat to Rodriguezs right to life,
liberty and security.
After a careful examination of the records of these cases, we are convinced
that the Court of Appeals correctly found sufficient evidence proving that the
soldiers of the 17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the military abducted
Rodriguez on 6 September 2009, and detained and tortured him until 17
September 2009.
Rodriguezs Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 4 December 2009 was a
meticulous and straightforward account of his horrific ordeal with the military,
detailing the manner in which he was captured and maltreated on account of his
suspected membership in the NPA.[96] His narration of his suffering included an
exhaustive description of his physical surroundings, personal circumstances and
perceived observations. He likewise positively identified respondents 1st Lt.
Matutina and Lt. Col. Mina to be present during his abduction, detention and
torture,[97] and respondents Cruz, Pasicolan and Callagan as the CHR
representatives who appeared during his release.[98]

More particularly, the fact of Rodriguezs abduction was corroborated by


Carlos in his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 16 September 2009,[99] wherein he
recounted in detail the circumstances surrounding the victims capture.
As regards the allegation of torture, the respective Certifications of Dr.
Ramil and Dr. Pamugas validate the physical maltreatment Rodriguez suffered in
the hands of the soldiers of the 17th Infantry Battalion, 5thInfantry Division.
According to the Certification dated 12 October 2009 executed by Dr.
Ramil,[100] she examined Rodriguez in the Alfonso Ponce Enrile Memorial District
Hospital on 16 September 2009 and arrived at the following findings:

FACE
-

10cm healed scar face right side

2cm healed scar right eyebrow (lateral area)

2cm healed scar right eye brow (median area)

4cm x 2cm hematoma anterior chest at the sternal area right side

3cm x 2cm hematoma sternal area left side

6cm x 1cm hematoma from epigastric area to ant. chest left side

6cm x 1cm hematoma from epigastric area to ant. chest right side

Multiple healed rashes (brownish discoloration) both forearm

Multiple healed rashes (brownish discoloration)

both leg arm

hip area/lumbar area

[101]

Dr. Pamugas performed a separate medical examination of Rodriguez on 19


September 2009, the results of which confirmed that the injuries suffered by the
latter were inflicted through torture. Dr. Pamugas thus issued a Medical Report
dated 23 September 2009,[102] explicitly stating that Rodriguez had been tortured
during his detention by the military, to wit:

X. Interpretation of Findings

The above physical and psychological findings sustained by the subject are
related to the torture and ill-treatment done to him. The multiple circular brown to
dark brown spots found on both legs and arms were due to the insect bites that he
sustained when he was forced to join twice in the military operations. The abrasions
could also be due to the conditions related during military operations. The multiple pinpoint blood spots found on his left ear is a result of an unknown object placed inside his
left ear. The areas of tenderness he felt during the physical examination were due to the
overwhelming punching and kicking on his body. The occasional difficulty of sleeping is a
symptom experience (sic) by the subject as a result of the psychological trauma he
encountered during his detention.

XI. Conclusions and Recommendations

The physical injuries and psychological trauma suffered by the subject are
secondary to the torture and ill-treatment done to him while in detention for about 11
days. The physical injuries sustained by the subject, of which the age is compatible
with the alleged date of infliction (sic).

[103]

(Emphasis supplied.)

In assessing the weight of the Certifications, the Court of Appeals correctly


relied on the medical finding that the injuries suffered by Rodriguez matched his
account of the maltreatment inflicted on him by the soldiers of the 17th Infantry
Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Further, the kind of injuries
he sustained showed that he could not have sustained them from merely falling,
thus making respondents claim highly implausible.
Despite these medical findings that overwhelmingly supported and lent
credibility to the allegations of Rodriguez in his Sinumpaang Salaysay,
respondents in G.R. No. 191805 still stubbornly clung to their argument that he
was neither abducted nor detained. Rather, they claimed that he was a double
agent, whose relationship with the military was at all times congenial. This
contention cannot be sustained, as it is far removed from ordinary human
experience.

If it were true that Rodriguez maintained amicable relations with the


military, then he should have unhesitatingly assured his family on 17 September
2009 that he was among friends. Instead, he vigorously pleaded with them to get
him out of the military facility. In fact, in the Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 4
December 2009[104] Wilma executed, she made the following averments:

18. Na nang Makita ko ang aking anak ay nakaramdam ako sa kanya ng awa
dahil sa mukha syang pagod at malaki ang kanyang ipinayat.

19. Na niyakap ko sya at sa aming pagkakayakap ay binulungan nya ako na


wag ko syang iiwan sa lugar na iyon;

xxx

xxx

xxx

23. Na sinabihan ako ng mga sundalo na kung pwede daw ay maiwan muna ng
dalawang linggo sa kampo ako at si Noriel para daw matrain pa si Noriel sa loob ng
kampo;

24. Na hindi ako pumayag na maiwan ang aking anak;

xxx

xxx

xxx

33. Na sa kasalukuhan, hanggang ngayon ay nag-aalala pa ako sa paa (sic) sa


kaligtasan ng aming buong pamilya, lalo na kay Noriel; xxx

[105]

Also, Rodel made the following supporting averments in his Sinumpaang


Salaysay dated 3 December 2009:[106]

24. Na nang makita ko si Noriel, hindi sya makalakad ng diretso, hinang-hina sya,
malaki ang ipinayat at nanlalalim ang mga mata;

25. Na nang makita ko ang aking kapatid ay nakaramdam ako ng awa dahil
nakilala ko syang masigla at masayahin;

26. Na ilang minuto lang ay binulugan nya ako ng Kuya, ilabas mo ako dito,
papatayin nila ako.

27. Na sinabihan kami ni Lt. Col. Mina na baka pwedeng maiwan pa ng dalwang
linggo ang aking kapatid sa kanila para raw ma-train sya.

28. Na hindi kami pumayag ng aking nanay; xxx

[107]

Moreover, the Court of Appeals likewise aptly pointed out the illogical, if
not outrightly contradictory, contention of respondents in G.R. No. 191805 that
while Rodriguez had complained of his exhaustion from his activities as a member
of the CPP-NPA, he nevertheless willingly volunteered to return to his life in the
NPA to become a double-agent for the military. The lower court ruled in this
manner:

In the Return of the Writ, respondent AFP members alleged that petitioner
confided to his military handler, Cpl. Navarro, that petitioner could no longer stand the
hardships he experienced in the wilderness, and that he wanted to become an ordinary
citizen again because of the empty promises of the CPP-NPA. However, in the same
Return, respondents state that petitioner agreed to become a double agent for the
military and wanted to re-enter the CPP-NPA, so that he could get information regarding
the movement directly from the source. If petitioner was tired of life in the wilderness
and desired to become an ordinary citizen again, it defies logic that he would agree to
become an undercover agent and work alongside soldiers in the mountains or the

wilderness

he

[108]

comrades.

dreads

to

locate

the

hideout

of

his

alleged

NPA

(Emphasis supplied.)

Furthermore, the appellate court also properly ruled that aside from the
abduction, detention and torture of Rodriguez, respondents, specifically 1st Lt.
Matutina, had violated and threatened the formers right to security when they
made a visual recording of his house, as well as the photos of his relatives, to wit:

In the videos taken by the soldiers one of whom was respondent Matutina in
the house of petitioner on September 18, 2009, the soldiers even went as far as taking
videos of the photos of petitioners relatives hung on the wall of the house, as well as
videos of the innermost part of the house. This Court notes that 1Lt. Matutina, by
taking the said videos, did not merely intend to make proofs of the safe arrival of
petitioner and his family in their home. 1Lt. Matutina also desired to instill fear in the
minds of petitioner and his family by showing them that the sanctity of their home,
from then on, will not be free from the watchful eyes of the military, permanently
captured through the medium of a seemingly innocuous cellhpone video camera. The
Court cannot and will not condone such act, as it intrudes into the very core of
petitioners right to security guaranteed by the fundamental law.

[109]

(Emphasis

supplied.)

Taken in their totality, the pieces of evidence adduced by Rodriguez, as well


as the contradictory defenses presented by respondents in G.R. No. 191805, give
credence to his claim that he had been abducted, detained and tortured by
soldiers belonging to the 17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division of the
military.
It must be pointed out, however, that as to respondents Cruz, Pasicolan
and Callagan, there was no substantial evidence to show that they violated, or
threatened with violation, Rodriguezs right to life, liberty and security. Despite
the dearth of evidence to show the CHR officers responsibility or accountability,
this Court nonetheless emphasizes its criticism as regards their capacity to
recognize torture or any similar form of abuse. The CHR, being constitutionally
mandated to protect human rights and investigate violations thereof,[110] should
ensure that its officers are well-equipped to respond effectively to and address

human rights violations. The actuations of respondents unmistakably showed


their insufficient competence in facilitating and ensuring the safe release of
Rodriguez after his ordeal.
b. The failure to conduct a fair and
effect investigation amounted to a
violation of or threat to Rodriguezs
rights to life, liberty and security.
The Rule on the Writ of Amparo explicitly states that the violation of or
threat to the right to life, liberty and security may be caused by either an act or
an omission of a public official.[111] Moreover, in the context of amparo

proceedings, responsibility may refer to the participation of the respondents, by


action or omission, in enforced disappearance.[112] Accountability, on the other
hand, may attach to respondents who are imputed with knowledge relating to the
enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those
who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in
the investigation of the enforced disappearance.[113]
In this regard, we emphasize our ruling in Secretary of National Defense v.
Manalo[114] that the right to security of a person includes the positive obligation of
the government to ensure the observance of the duty to investigate, viz:
Third, the right to security of person is a guarantee of protection
of one's rights by the government. In the context of the writ of Amparo,
this right is built into the guarantees of the right to life and liberty under
Article III, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution and the right to security of
person (as freedom from threat and guarantee of bodily and
psychological integrity) under Article III, Section 2. The right to security
of person in this third sense is a corollary of the policy that the State
guarantees full respect for human rights under Article II, Section 11 of
the 1987 Constitution. As the government is the chief guarantor of order
and security, the Constitutional guarantee of the rights to life, liberty and
security of person is rendered ineffective if government does not afford

protection to these rights especially when they are under


threat. Protection
includes
conducting
effective
investigations, organization of the government apparatus to extend
protection to victims of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances
(or threats thereof) and/or their families, and bringing offenders to the
bar of justice. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights stressed the
importance of investigation in the Velasquez Rodriguez Case, viz:
(The duty to investigate) must be undertaken in a
serious manner and not as a mere formality preordained
to be ineffective. An investigation must have an objective
and be assumed by the State as its own legal duty, not as a
step taken by private interests that depends upon the
initiative of the victim or his family or upon their offer of
proof, without an effective search for the truth by the
government.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Similarly, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has


interpreted the right to security not only as prohibiting the State from
arbitrarily depriving liberty, but imposing a positive duty on the State to
afford protection of the right to liberty. The ECHR interpreted the right
to security of person under Article 5(1) of the European Convention of
Human Rights in the leading case on disappearance of persons, Kurt v.
Turkey. In this case, the claimant's son had been arrested by state
authorities and had not been seen since. The family's requests for
information and investigation regarding his whereabouts proved futile.
The claimant suggested that this was a violation of her son's right to
security of person. The ECHR ruled, viz:
... any deprivation of liberty must not only have been
effected in conformity with the substantive and procedural
rules of national law but must equally be in keeping with
the very purpose of Article 5, namely to protect the
individual from arbitrariness... Having assumed control
over that individual it is incumbent on the authorities to
account for his or her whereabouts. For this reason, Article
5 must be seen as requiring the authorities to take
effective measures to safeguard against the risk of
disappearance and to conduct a prompt effective
investigation into an arguable claim that a person has

been taken into custody and has not been seen


since.[115] (Emphasis supplied)

In the instant case, this Court rules that respondents in G.R. No. 191805 are
responsible or accountable for the violation of Rodriguezs right to life, liberty and
security on account of their abject failure to conduct a fair and effective official
investigation of his ordeal in the hands of the military. Respondents Gen. Ibrado,
PDG. Verzosa, Lt. Gen. Bangit, Maj. Gen. Ochoa, Col. De Vera and Lt. Col. Mina
only conducted a perfunctory investigation, exerting no efforts to take Ramirezs
account of the events into consideration. Rather, these respondents solely relied
on the reports and narration of the military. The ruling of the appellate court
must be emphasized:

In this case, respondents Ibrado, Verzosa, Bangit, Tolentino, Santos, De Vera,


and Mina are accountable, for while they were charged with the investigation of the
subject incident, the investigation they conducted and/or relied on is superficial and
one-sided. The records disclose that the military, in investigating the incident
complained of, depended on the Comprehensive Report of Noriel Rodriguez
@Pepito prepared by 1Lt. Johnny Calub for the Commanding Officer of the 501st Infantry
Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army. Such report, however, is merely based on
the narration of the military. No efforts were undertaken to solicit petitioners version
of the subject incident and no witnesses were questioned regarding the alleged
abduction of petitioner.

Respondent PDG Verzosa, as Chief of the PNP, is accountable because Section


24 of Republic Act No. 6975, otherwise known as the PNP Law, specifies the PNP as
the governmental office with the mandate to investigate and prevent crimes, effect the
arrest of criminal offenders, bring offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution. In
this case, PDG Verzosa failed to order the police to conduct the necessary investigation
to unmask the mystery surrounding petitioners abduction and disappearance. Instead,
PDG Verzosa disclaims accountability by merely stating that petitioner has no cause of
action against him. Palpable, however, is the lack of any effort on the part of PDG
Verzosa to effectively and aggressively investigate the violations of petitioners right to
life, liberty and security by members of the 17th Infantry Battalion, 17th Infantry Division,
[116]

Philippine Army.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Clearly, the absence of a fair and effective official investigation into the
claims of Rodriguez violated his right to security, for which respondents in G.R.
No. 191805 must be held responsible or accountable.
Nevertheless, it must be clarified that Rodriguez was unable to establish
any responsibility or accountability on the part of respondents P/CSupt.
Tolentino, P/SSupt. Santos, Calog and Palacpac. Respondent P/CSupt. Tolentino
had already retired when the abduction and torture of Rodriguez was
perpetrated, while P/SSupt. Santos had already been reassigned and transferred
to the National Capital Regional Police Office six months before the subject
incident occurred. Meanwhile, no sufficient allegations were maintained against
respondents Calog and Palacpac.
From all the foregoing, we rule that Rodriguez was successful in proving
through substantial evidence that respondents Gen. Ibrado, PDG. Verzosa, Lt.
Gen. Bangit, Maj. Gen. Ochoa, Brig. Gen. De Vera, 1st Lt. Matutina, and Lt. Col.
Mina were responsible and accountable for the violation of Rodriguezs rights to
life, liberty and security on the basis of (a) his abduction, detention and torture
from 6 September to 17 September 2009, and (b) the lack of any fair and effective
official investigation as to his allegations. Thus, the privilege of the writs
of amparo and habeas data must be granted in his favor. As a result, there is no
longer any need to issue a temporary protection order, as the privilege of these
writs already has the effect of enjoining respondents in G.R. No. 191805 from
violating his rights to life, liberty and security.
It is also clear from the above discussion that despite (a) maintaining
former President Arroyo in the list of respondents in G.R. No. 191805, and (b)
allowing the application of the command responsibility doctrine
to amparo and habeas data proceedings, Rodriguez failed to prove through
substantial evidence that former President Arroyo was responsible or accountable
for the violation of his rights to life, liberty and property. He likewise failed to
prove through substantial evidence the accountability or responsibility of
respondents Maj. Gen. Ochoa, Cruz, Pasicolan and Callagan.
WHEREFORE, we resolve to GRANT the Petition for Partial Review in G.R.
No. 191805 and DENY the Petition for Review in G.R. No. 193160. The Decision of
the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION.

The case is dismissed with respect to respondents former President Gloria


Macapagal-Arroyo, P/CSupt. Ameto G. Tolentino, and P/SSupt. Jude W. Santos,
Calog, George Palacpac, Antonio Cruz, Aldwin Pasicolan and Vicent Callagan for
lack of merit.
This Court directs the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and the
Department of Justice (DOJ) to take the appropriate action with respect to any
possible liability or liabilities, within their respective legal competence, that may
have been incurred by respondents Gen. Victor Ibrado, PDG. Jesus Verzosa, Lt.
Gen. Delfin Bangit, Maj. Gen. Nestor Ochoa, Brig. Gen. Remegio De Vera, 1st Lt.
Ryan Matutina, and Lt. Col. Laurence Mina. The Ombudsman and the DOJ are
ordered to submit to this Court the results of their action within a period of six
months from receipt of this Decision.
In the event that herein respondents no longer occupy their respective
posts, the directives mandated in this Decision and in the Court of Appeals are
enforceable against the incumbent officials holding the relevant positions. Failure
to comply with the foregoing shall constitute contempt of court.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
ARTHUR BALAO, WINSTON BALAO,
NONETTE BALAO, JONILYN BALAOSTRUGAR and BEVERLY LONGID,
Petitioners,

- versus -

GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, EDUARDO


ERMITA, GILBERTO TEODORO, RONALDO
PUNO, NORBERTO GONZALES, Gen.
ALEXANDER YANO, Gen. JESUS VERZOSA,
Brig. Gen. REYNALDO MAPAGU, Lt. P/Dir.
EDGARDO DOROMAL, Maj. Gen. ISAGANI
CACHUELA, Commanding Officer of the
AFP-ISU based in Baguio City, PSS EUGENE
MARTIN and several JOHN DOES,
Respondents.

x------------------------- x

PRESIDENT
GLORIA
MACAPAGALARROYO, SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA,
SECRETARY
GILBERTO
TEODORO,

G.R. No. 186050

SECRETARY RONALDO PUNO, SECRETARY


NORBERTO GONZALES, GEN. ALEXANDER
YANO, P/DGEN. JESUS VERZOSA, BRIG
GEN. REYNALDO MAPAGU, MAJ. GEN.
ISAGANI CACHUELA ANDPOL. SR.
SUPT. EUGENE MARTIN,

G.R. No. 186059

Petitioners,
Present:

CORONA,C.J.,
CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
- versus -

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA
BERSAMIN,

ARTHUR BALAO, WINSTON BALAO,


NONETTE BALAO, JONILYN BALAOSTRUGAR and BEVERLY LONGID,
Respondents.

DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA,
SERENO,
REYES, and

PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

December 13, 2011


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us are consolidated appeals under Section 19 of the Rule on the


Writ of Amparofrom the January 19, 2009 Judgment[1] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63, in Special Proceeding No. 08-AMP-0001,
entitled In the Matter of the Petition for Issuance of Writ of Amparo in favor of
James Balao, Arthur Balao, et al. v. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et al. The RTC
granted the petition for the writ of amparo but denied the prayer for issuance of
inspection, production and witness protection orders.

The Antecedents

On October 8, 2008, Arthur Balao, Winston Balao, Nonette Balao and Jonilyn
Balao-Strugar, siblings of James Balao, and Beverly Longid (petitioners), filed with
the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ
of Amparo[2] in favor of James Balao who was abducted by unidentified armed
men on September 17, 2008 in Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet. Named respondents
in the petition were then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary

Eduardo R. Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr.,Interior and Local


Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno, National Security Adviser (NSA) Norberto
B. Gonzales, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander
B. Yano, Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Director General Jesus A.
Verzosa, Philippine Army (PA) Chief Brig. Gen. Reynaldo B. Mapagu, PNP Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Chief Lt. P/Dir. Edgardo Doromal,
Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Commander Maj. Gen. Isagani C. Cachuela,
PNP-Cordillera Administrative Region Regional Director Police Senior Supt.
Eugene Gabriel Martin, the Commanding Officer of the AFP Intelligence Service
Unit (AFP-ISU) based in Baguio City and several John Does.
James M. Balao is a Psychology and Economics graduate of the University of
the Philippines-Baguio (UP-Baguio). In 1984, he was among those who founded
the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), a coalition of non-government organizations
(NGOs) working for the cause of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region. As
head of CPAs education and research committee, James actively helped in the
training and organization of farmers. He was also the President of Oclupan Clan
Association which undertakes the registration and documentation of clan
properties to protect their rights over ancestral lands. In 1988, while working for
the CPA, he was arrested on the charge of violation of the Anti-Subversion
Law but the case was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.
The testimonies and statements of eyewitnesses established the following
circumstances surrounding Jamess disappearance:
On September 17, 2008, at around 8:30 in the morning, a man clad in black
jacket, black shirt, black visor and gray pants was standing infront of
Saymors[3] Store at Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet. He had a belt bag and a
travelling bag which was placed on a bench. Vicky Bonel was at the time
attending to the said store owned by her brother-in-law while Aniceto G. Dawing,
Jr. and his co-employee were delivering bakery products thereat. A white van
then arrived and stopped infront of the store. Five men in civilian clothes who
were carrying firearms alighted from the van and immediately approached the
man poking their guns on him. They grabbed and handcuffed him. The man was

asking why he was being apprehended. One of the armed men addressed the
people witnessing the incident, saying they were policemen. Another warned
that no one should interfere because the man was being arrested for illegal
drugs. Thereafter, they pushed the man inside the van. One of the armed men
went back to the store to get the mans travelling bag. Before leaving the place,
one of the armed men was also heard telling the driver of the van that they are
going to proceed to Camp Dangwa (PNP Provincial Headquarters in La Trinidad,
Benguet). The van headed towards the direction of La Trinidad town proper. The
witnesses later identified the man as James Balao after seeing his photograph
which appeared in posters announcing him as missing.
The petition alleged that in May 2008, James reported surveillances on his
person to his family, particularly to his sister Nonette Balao (Nonette), and to CPA
Chairperson Beverly Longid (Beverly). James supposedly observed certain
vehicles tailing him and suspiciously parked outside his residence, one of which
was a van with plate number USC 922. He also claimed to have received calls and
messages through his mobile phone informing him that he was under surveillance
by the PNP Regional Office and the AFP-ISU. To prove the surveillance, the
informer gave the exact dates he visited his family, clothes he wore, and dates
and times he goes home or visits friends and relatives. Attached to the petition
were the affidavits[4] of Nonette and Beverly attesting to Jamess reports of
surveillance to his family and to the CPA.
It was further alleged that on September 17, 2008, around 7:00 in the
morning, James sent a text message to Nonette informing her that he was about
to leave his rented house in Fairview Central, Baguio City and that he was going to
their ancestral residence in Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet to do his laundry. The travel
time from Fairview, Baguio City to Pico usually takes only 20 to 45
minutes. Around 8:00 a.m., Nonette, after discovering that James never reached
their parents house at Pico, started contacting their friends and relatives to ask
about Jamess whereabouts. No one, however, had any idea where he was.
Thus, the Balao family, with the assistance of the CPA and other NGOs,
tried to locate James. Teams were formed to follow Jamess route from Fairview,

Baguio City to Pico, La Trinidad and people along the way were asked if they
happened to see him. These searches, however, yielded negative results. One of
the teams also went to the office of the AFP-ISU (PA-ISU) in Navy Base and the
office of the Military Intelligence Group in Camp Allen, both in Baguio City, but
the personnel in said offices denied any knowledge on Jamess whereabouts. The
family likewise went to Baguio Police Station 7 to report Jamess disappearance.
The report was duly entered on the blotter but there have been no developments
as of the filing of the petition. They also sought the help of the media to announce
Jamess disappearance and wrote several government agencies to inform them of
his disappearance and enlist their help in locating him.
Petitioners, moreover, enumerated in their petition several incidents of
harassments and human rights violations against CPA officers, staff and members.
Contending that there is no plain, speedy or adequate remedy for them to
protect Jamess life, liberty and security, petitioners prayed for the issuance of a
writ of amparo ordering the respondents to disclose where James is detained or
confined, to release James, and to cease and desist from further inflicting harm
upon his person. They likewise prayed for (1) an inspection order for the
inspection of at least 11 military and police facilities which have been previously
reported as detention centers for activists abducted by military and police
operatives; (2) a production order for all documents that contain evidence
relevant to the petition, particularly the Order of Battle List and any record or
dossier respondents have on James; and (3) a witness protection order.
Petitioners simultaneously filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion[5] for the
immediate issuance of a writ of amparo pursuant to Section 6 of the Rule on the
Writ of Amparo.
On October 9, 2008, the Writ of Amparo[6] was issued directing respondents
to file their verified return together with their supporting affidavit within five days
from receipt of the writ.

Respondents in their Joint Return[7] stated: (1) that President Gloria


Macapagal-Arroyo is immune from suit and should thus be dropped as partyrespondent; (2) that only Arthur Balao should be named petitioner and the rest of
the other petitioners dropped; (3) that there is no allegation of specific
wrongdoing against respondents that would show their knowledge, involvement
or participation in the abduction of James; (4) that Exec. Sec. Ermita, Sec.
Teodoro, Sec. Puno, Sec. Gonzales, Gen. Yano, Gen. Cachuela, Gen. Mapagu and
Gen. Verzosa in their respective affidavits denied having such participation or
knowledge of Jamess abduction, set forth their actions taken in investigating the
matter and undertaking to continue exerting extraordinary diligence in securing
the liberty of James and bring all those responsible for his disappearance to the
bar of justice, including military or police personnel when warranted by the
findings of the investigations; (5) that Supt. Martin already ordered an
investigation, came up with interviews of several witnesses, and held a dialogue
with the Commander of the Military Intelligence Group I (MIG1) and the
Commanding Officer of the Internal Service Unit-Internal Security Group,
Philippine Army;and (6) that petitioners themselves did not cooperate with police
authorities in the investigation and neither did they ask the National Bureau of
Investigation to locate James.
Respondents contended that the petition failed to meet the requirement in
the Rule on the Writ of Amparo that claims must be established by substantial
evidence considering that: (1) petitioners allegations do not mention in anyway
the manner, whether directly or indirectly, the alleged participation of
respondents in the purported abduction of James; (2) Nonette and Beverly do not
have personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the abduction of
James, hence, their statements are hearsay with no probative value; and (3) the
allegations in the petition do not show the materiality and relevance of the places
sought to be searched/inspected and documents to be produced, specifically the
requirement that the prayer for an inspection order shall be supported by
affidavits or testimonies of witnesses having personal knowledge of the
whereabouts of the aggrieved party.

Respondents further argued that it is the PNP as the law enforcement


agency, and not the respondent military and executive officials, which has the
duty to investigate cases of missing persons. At most, the AFP may inquire on the
matters being alluded to them as may be ordered by the proper superior, which is
primarily done for possible court martial proceedings. Hence, their common
denials of having any knowledge, participation or authorization for the alleged
disappearance of James Balao. Nonetheless, respondents executed their
affidavits to show the actions they have taken and reports submitted to them by
the proper authorities, as follows:
Executive Secretary Ermitastated that upon receipt of copy of the petition
for a writ of amparo, he caused the issuance of a letter addressed to the PNP
Chief and AFP Chief of Staff for the purpose of inquiring and establishing the
circumstances surrounding the alleged disappearance of James Balao, and which
letters also called for the submission of pertinent reports on the results of the
investigation conducted, if any.[8]
Secretary Teodoro declared that soon after the promulgation by this Court
of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, he issued Policy Directive on the Actions and
Defenses Under the Amparo Rule which instructed members of the AFP to
undertake specific measures even without waiting for the filing of
an amparo petition in court whenever any member of the AFP or any of its
commands or units have been reported or published as being involved in the
alleged violation of an individuals right to life, liberty and security or threat
thereof, as a preparatory step in the filing of a verified return as required by A.M.
No. 07-9-12-SC. The AFP was therein also directed to immediately coordinate
with the PNP, NBI, DOJ and other government agencies in the attainment of the
desired actions in the event a petition is filed. Said policy directive was contained
in his Memorandum dated October 31, 2007 to the Chief of Staff, AFP, and there
is no reason for him to doubt that the AFP will comply with it insofar as the
present petition for writ of amparo is concerned.[9]
Secretary Puno confirmed receipt of a copy of the petition and said he will
write to the PNP Chief to call for pertinent reports relative to the circumstances of

the alleged taking of the person in whose favor the writ of amparo was
sought. He undertook to make available any report he will receive from the PNP
on the matter.[10]
NSA Gonzales asserted that as a public officer, he is presumed to have
performed his duties in accordance with law, which presumption remains
undisturbed amid gratuitous assumptions and conclusions in the petition devoid
of factual and legal basis. Upon receipt of a copy of the petition, he caused to be
issued letters/communications to the Director General of the National
Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the PNP Chief and the AFP Chief of Staff for the
purpose of making active inquiries and establishing the circumstances of the
alleged disappearance insofar as the possible involvement of military/police
personnel is concerned. He undertook to provide the material results of
investigations conducted or to be conducted by the concerned agencies.[11]
General Yano narrated that prior to the receipt of a copy of the petition, he
received a memorandum from the Department of National Defense transmitting
the letter of Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro A. Casio inquiring about the
alleged abduction of James Balao. On the basis of said memo, he directed by
radio message the NOLCOM Commander to conduct a thorough investigation on
the matter and to submit the result thereof to the AFP General
Headquarters. This was also done in compliance with the Policy Directive issued
by Defense Secretary Teodoro. He reiterated his October 6, 2008 directive to the
PA Commanding General in another radio message dated October 16, 2008. He
undertook to provide the court with material results of the investigations
conducted by the concerned units as soon as the same are received by Higher
Headquarters.[12]
Lt. Gen. Cachuela said that even prior to the receipt of a copy of the
petition, he was already directed by Higher Headquarters to conduct a thorough
investigation on the alleged abduction of James Balao. Acting on said directive,
he in turn directed the 5th Infantry Division, PA to investigate the matter since the
place of the commission of the abduction is within its area of responsibility. He

undertook to furnish the court with a copy of the result of the investigation
conducted or to be conducted, as soon as NOLCOM receives the same.[13]
BGen. Mapagu on his part declared that there is nothing in the allegations
of the petition that would show the involvement of the PA in the reported
disappearance of James Balao. He claimed that he immediately called the
attention of the concerned staff to give some information regarding the case
and directed them to submit a report if they are able to obtain information.[14]
Pol. Dir. General Verzosa set forth the actions and steps taken by the PNP,
particularly the PNP Regional Office-Cordillera (PRO-COR) headed by PCSupt.
Eugene Martin, being the lead PNP unit investigating the case of James Balao.[15]
Pol. Chief Supt. Martin recounted that in the afternoon of September 17,
2008, CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid called up and informed him of the
disappearance of James. On September 20, 2008, he was informed that James
was allegedly missing and immediately ordered the Office of the Regional
Intelligence Division (RID) to send flash alarm to all lower units to look for and
locate James Balao. This was followed by a Memorandum with his picture and
description. Upon his orders, Police Station 1 of the Baguio City Police Office
(BCPO) immediately conducted inquiries at the boarding house of James at
Barangay Fairview, Baguio City. Likewise, he ordered the creation of Task Force
Balao to fast track the investigation of the case. He further instructed the RID to
exert all efforts and supervise all lower units to intensify their investigation and
ascertain the whereabouts and other circumstances surrounding the
disappearance of James. Results of the investigations conducted were set forth in
his affidavit. He had constant coordination with the CPA leaders and Balao family
who divulged the plate numbers of vehicles allegedly observed by James prior to
his disappearance as conducting surveillance on his person. Upon verification with
the Land Transportation Office, the said vehicles were found to be registered
under the following persons: TNH 787 Narciso Magno of #20 Darasa, Tanauan,
Batangas; and USC 922 G & S Transport Corp. On October 6, 2008, he received
information regarding an abduction incident in Tomay, La Trinidad whereupon he
ordered the Provincial Director of Benguet to conduct an in-depth investigation;

said investigation disclosed that the person abducted was indeed James. On
October 8, 2008, Task Force Balao with the help of the CPA and Balao family were
able to convince two witnesses in the abduction incident in Tomay, La Trinidad,
Benguet to shed light on the incident; as a result, cartographic sketches of the
suspects were made. In the morning of October 9, 2008, he presided over a
dialogue which was attended by the Group Commander, MIG1 and Commanding
Officer of ISU, ISG and PA, for the coordinated efforts to locate James. In the
afternoon of the same day, he met with the family and relatives of James to
inform them of initial efforts and investigation of the case. The Task Force Balao
was also able to secure the affidavits of witnesses Aniceto Dawing and Vicky
Bonel, and invited some members of the CPA who retrieved Jamess personal
belongings in Fairview, Baguio City and his companions prior to his disappearance
on September 17, 2008 to appear before the Task Force Balao for some
clarifications but none of them appeared. The case is still under follow-up and
continuing investigation to know what really happened, identify the abductors,
determine the real motive for the abduction and file the necessary charges in
court against those responsible.[16]
Also attached to the Return are the more detailed reports (with attached
affidavits of other witnesses) dated October 14, 2008 and October 6, 2008
submitted by Task Force Balao Commander P/S Supt. Fortunato B. Albas to the
PNP Cordillera Regional Director. Pertinent portions of the two reports read:
xxxx
2. Inquiries conducted from Mr. Zusimo Unarosa, a resident of Nr 126, Purok 3,
Central Fairview, Baguio City, claimed that on the 1st week of September 2008, he
frequently observed two (2) unidentified male persons aged 50-70 years old and about
51 to 55 in height, bringing boxes from the house, the contents of which could not be
determined. However, averred that these two (2) male personalities are not familiar in
the barangay. He further stated that he had never seen a van conducting surveillance
on the house and have not heard of any incident of kidnapping or abduction in the
community.
3. Mr[.] Anselmo Alukim, a neighbor, residing adjacent to the house of the
subject, when interviewed, averred that he observed some unidentified male and
female persons visiting the said house.

4. Interview conducted on Mr[.] Danny Griba, a resident of said barangay


averred that James Balao is not a resident or occupant of the said house and claimed
that he only saw the subject last summer and stated there are five (5) unidentified
persons occupying the said house. He further stated that three (3) male persons aged 40
to 50 years old and a female aged between 20-30 years old goes out during day time
with several boxes and returns at about 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM on board a taxi cab again
with some boxes of undetermined contents.
5. Mrs[.] Corazon Addun, resident of Nr 114, Purok 3, Central Fairview, Baguio
City averred that the subject is not residing in the said place and saw him only once,
sometime on April 2008. She further narrated that a certain Uncle John aged 40 to 50
years old and a male person aged 20 to 30 are among the occupants of said
house. Accordingly, on September 21, 2008, Uncle John went to the house of Mrs.
Addun and over a cup of coffee told her that he will be going to Sagada, Mountain
Province purposely to locate a missing colleague who was sent there. Accordingly[,] he
received a phone call that his missing colleague (James Balao) did not reach the
municipality and reported missing. After that short talk, she never saw Uncle John
again. Additionally, she did not notice any vehicle conducting surveillance therein and
any unusual incidents that transpired in said place.
xxxx
7. This office has likewise coordinated with MIG-1 and ISU, ISG, PA but both
offices denied any knowledge on the alleged abduction of James Balao.
8. It was found out that it was SPO4 Genero Rosal, residing within the vicinity,
who followed-up the incident because it was reported to him by his neighbors. That
after he learned about *James abduction+, he contacted PDEA, La Trinidad PS, RID ad
Intel BPPO to verify if they had an operation in Tomay, La Trinidad but all of them
answered negative.
xxxx

[17]

xxxx
3. A photocopy of the photograph of James Balao was presented to the
witnesses wherein they confirmed that the picture is the same person who was arrested
and handcuffed. Another witness divulged that prior to the arrest of the person in the
picture/photograph, a red motorcycle with two (2) male riders allegedly conducted
surveillance along the highway about ten (10) meters away from the place where the
victim was picked-up. Minutes later, a white Mitsubishi Adventure arrived and took the

victim inside the car. The motorcycle riding in tandem followed the Mitsubushi
Adventure en route to Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet. Another witness overheard
one of the abductors instructing the driver to quote pare sa Camp Dangwa tayo.
4. Follow[-+up investigation resulted in the identification of a certain KULOT
who also witnessed the alleged abduction. However, he was hesitant to talk and
instead pointed to the driver of the delivery van of Helens Bread. At about 8:30 AM of
October 9, 2008, Aniceto Dawing Jr*.+ y Gano, the driver of the delivery van of Helens
Bread, surfaced and gave his statements on what he witnessed on the alleged
abduction.
5. On October 12, 2008, one Vicky Bonel y Felipe, 19 years old, single, native of
Atok, Benguet, resident of Tomay, LTB and store keeper of Saymor*s+ Store appeared
before the office of Benguet PPO and gave her sworn statement on the alleged
abduction. A cartographic sketch was made on the person who identified himself as
policeman. She further stated that it was when while she was tending her brother-inlaws store, gun-wielding men, of about six or more, handcuffed and shove the victim
inside their vehicle. She recalled that she can recognize the abductors if she can see
them again.
6. Another witness stated that she was preparing her merchandise in the
waiting shed of Lower Tomay when she noticed a parked motorcycle beside the
elementary school at about 7:00 AM of September 17, 2008. The rider of the bike was
suspiciously scouring the area and kept on calling someone from his cellular phone
before the abduction was made.
7. Baguio City Police Office conducted follow-up investigation and were able to
secure affidavit of Florence Luken y Mayames, 47 years old, married, and a resident of
135 Central Fairview averred that James Balao together with a certain Uncle John about
65-75 years old, about 54 in height and a certain Rene about 30-35 years old and
stands 55, were her neighbors for almost one year. She further stated that James
Balao and company do not mingle with their neighbors and only one person is usually
left behind while James and Rene goes out at 6:00 or 7:00 AM and goes back at around
6:00 or 7:00 PM.
She further averred that she did not notice any van or any kind of vehicle parked
along the roadside infront of any residence not his neighbors nor any person or persons
observing the occupants of the said house. Accordingly, at around 1:00 PM of
September 26, 2008, a closed van (Ca[n]ter) with unknown plate number was seen
parked infront of the said house and more or less (10) unidentified male person[s] aging
from 20-23 and an unidentified female entered the alleged rented house of James Balao
and took some table, chairs and cabinets then left immediately to unknown destination.

8. Mrs[.] Mina Cabati Serdan the owner of the house being rented by James
Balao averred that sometime May of 2007, a certain Mr[.] June, a realtor agent,
recommended to her that a certain James Balao will rent the house for one (1) year
term with an agreed monthly rent of fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000.00). She stated
that James Balao had extended his stay for almost 4 months. On the last week of
August 2008, Mrs[.] Serdan called up James Balao through phone to inform him that she
will terminate his stay at the rented house on September 30, 2008. Mrs[.] Serdan
further stated that [she]visited the rented house only twice and that was the only time
she saw James Balao with an unidentified companions.
That she only discovered that James Balao was missing when a certain Carol
informed her that he was missing. [Sh]e further stated that she visited her house and
found out that the said occupants have already left on September 26, 2008 and
discovered that all personal belongings of the occupants have already been taken out by
the relatives.
xxxx
VI. ACTIONS TAKEN:
1. That a composite team TASK FORCE BALAO from this office and the
Regional Headquarters headed by [P/S SUPT] FORTUNATO BASCO ALBAS was formed.
2.
the area.

That the composite team of investigators conducted ocular inspection on

3. On October 8, 2008, two (2) witnesses namely: Marjore Domingo Hipolito


and Jenny Lynn Malondon Valdez gave their sworn statements and cartographic sketch
of one of the abductors.
4. On the morning of October 9, 2008, a dialogue was presided by RD, PROCOR and attended by the Group Commander, MIG1 and Commanding Officer of ISU, SG,
PA. Both commanders denied the accusations against them.
5. In the afternoon of the same day, a meeting with the family and relatives of
James Balao was again presided by RD, PRO-COR wherein the results of the initial efforts
and investigation were given to the family. He also reported the surfacing of another
two (2) witnesses who described the suspect who handcuffed James Balao.
6. PRO-Cordillera wrote a letter to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance requesting
them to present Uncle John, Rene and his other companions who are then residing in
the same boarding house including all his companions on September 17, 2008 and prior
to his disappearance.

REMARKS:
Case is still under follow-up investigation to identify the alleged abductors to
determine the real motive of the abduction and to file necessary charges against them
in court.

[18]

During the hearing, the affidavits and testimonies of the following


witnesses were presented by petitioners:
Aniceto Dawing[19] testified that on September 17, 2008, around 8:00 in the
morning, while he was delivering bread at Saymors Store in Tomay, La Trinidad,
Benguet, a white van stopped infront of them and five armed men alighted. The
armed men, who introduced themselves as policemen in Filipino, held and
pointed a gun at one male person. The armed men told the male person that he
was being apprehended for illegal drugs. They then let the male person board the
vehicle and informed him that they will proceed to Camp Dangwa. Dawing
admitted that he did not know that it was James whom he saw that time and
came to know only of his identity when he saw a poster bearing Jamess
photograph. On cross-examination, he stated that the white van did not have any
markings that it was a police vehicle and that the armed men were in civilian
clothes and did not wear any police badges or identification cards. He just
assumed that they were policemen because of their posture and haircut and
because they introduced themselves as such.
Anvil Lumbag stated in his affidavit[20] that he was also at Saymors Store in
the morning of September 17, 2008 to buy chicken. He said that a ToyotaRevo
stopped infront of the store from where four men alighted. The men handcuffed
a man who was standing infront of the store and uttered Walang makikialam,
drugs kaso nito while pointing a gun at the said man. Then, they forced the man
to board the Revo. Before the Revo fled, Lumbag heard one of the men say that
they will be going to Camp Dangwa. Lumbags affidavit, however, did not mention
if it was James who was forcibly taken by the armed men.

Beverly Longid[21] testified that she got to know James when she was a
member of the CPA youth organization in her student days. Every time James will
have an activity that is CPA-related, he would coordinate with Beverly, she being
the CPA chair. She also testified that prior to his disappearance, the last time she
talked with James was in July or August of 2008 when he reported surveillances
on his person by the PNP and the AFP. In her affidavit, she alleged that James
reported to her several vehicles tailing him, one of which was a green van with
plate number USC 922, the same plate number she had seen at the Intelligence
Security Unit in Navy Base, Baguio City, and which was attached to a silver grey
van.
Beverly admitted that at the time of the alleged abduction, she was in
Baguio City, at the Office of the Cordillera Peoples Legal Center and that she only
came to know that James was missing in the afternoon of September 18, 2008.
She also confirmed that they met with Pol. Supt. Martin to seek assistance
regarding Jamess disappearance.
Nonette Balao[22] testified that she was at her bakeshop located in Km. 4,
La Trinidad, Benguet in the morning of September 17, 2008. At around 6:30 a.m.,
she received a text message from James saying that he will be going home to their
ancestral home to do some laundry. Thirty minutes later, she received another
text message from James saying that he was already leaving his place in Fairview,
Baguio City. When around 8:00 a.m. James had not yet arrived at their ancestral
home, she got worried. She texted him but failed to get a reply, so she tried to
call him. His phone, however, had already been turned off. She then called the
CPA office to check if James was there. She was told that he was not there so she
went to Jamess house in Fairview at around 9:00 a.m. Jamess housemates,
however, told her that he left at 7:00 a.m.
Nonette also testified that they only reported Jamess disappearance to the
police on September 20, 2008 because they thought that it was necessary that a
person be missing for at least 48 hours before the disappearance could be
reported. They went to Sub-Station Police Precinct No. 1 in Baguio and to the

police precinct in La Trinidad to report the matter. They also went to Camp
Dangwa to see if James was there.
Nonette claimed that she became worried because James never switched
off his mobile phone and since he already texted her that he was coming home,
he could have texted again if there was a change of plans. Also, James had told
them since April 2008 that he had been under surveillance. She does not know
why James went to Tomay, La Trinidad.
Samuel Anongos stated in his affidavit[23] that he is a member of the
Education Commission of the CPA. He claimed that when they conducted
trainings and educational discussions on mining education in Abra, members of
the AFP harassed the community and committed various human rights violations.
The AFP also allegedly held community meetings where they said that the CPA is
part of the New Peoples Army. Attached to Anongoss affidavit is a copy of a
paper that the AFP was allegedly distributing. It shows the organizational
structure of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPPNPA) wherein CPA was identified as one of the organizations under the National
Democratic Front (NDF).[24]

RTC Ruling
On January 19, 2009, the RTC issued the assailed judgment, disposing as
follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered:
ISSUE a Writ of Amparo Ordering the respondents to (a) disclose where James
Balao is detained or confined, (b) to release James Balao considering his unlawful
detention since his abduction and (c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm
upon his person; and
DENY the issuance of INSPECTION ORDER, PRODUCTION ORDER and WITNESS
PROTECTION ORDER for failure of herein Petitioners to comply with the stringent
provisions on the Rule on the Writ of Amparo and substantiate the same.[25]

In denying respondents prayer that President Arroyo be dropped as partyrespondent, the RTC held that a petition for a writ of amparo is not by any
stretch of imagination a niggling*,+ vexing or annoying court case[26] from which
she should be shielded. The RTC ruled that said petition is nothing more than a
tool to aid the president to guarantee that laws on human rights are devotedly
and staunchly carried out. It added that those who complain against naming the
president as party-respondent are only those who either do not understand
what the Writ of Amparo is all about or who do not want to aid Her Excellency in
her duty to supervise and control the machinery of government.[27]
In upholding the standing of Jamess siblings and Beverly to file the petition,
the RTC held that what Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparorules out is the
right to file similar petitions, meaning there could be no successive petitions for
the issuance of a writ of amparo for the same party.
The RTC further held that more likely than not, the motive for Jamess
disappearance is his activist/political leanings and that Jamess case is one of an
enforced disappearance as defined under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. In so
ruling, the RTC considered (1) the several incidents of harassment mentioned in
Beverlys testimony and enumerated in the petition; and (2) the references in the
petition to the CPA as a front for the CPP-NPA.
The RTC likewise ruled that the government unmistakably violated Jamess
right to security of person. It found the investigation conducted by respondents as
very limited, superficial and one-sided. The police and military thus miserably
failed to conduct an effective investigation of Jamess abduction as revealed by
the investigation report of respondents own witnesses, Supt. Martin and P/S
Supt. Fortunato Basco Albas, the Commander of Task Force Balao. It further
noted that respondents did not investigate the military officials believed to be
behind the abduction as said military officials were merely invited to a dialogue
and there was no investigation made in Camp Dangwa where the abductors were
believed to have taken James as narrated by the witnesses. Moreover, the RTC
observed that despite the undertaking of respondents to investigate the
abduction and provide results thereof, four months have passed but petitioners

have
not
investigation.

been

furnished

reports

regarding

the

As to the denial of the interim reliefs, the RTC stated that the stringent
provisions of the rules were not complied with and granting said reliefs might
violate respondents constitutional rights and jeopardize State security.
Both parties appealed to this Court.
The Consolidated Petitions
Petitioners, in G.R. No. 186050, question the RTCs denial of the interim
reliefs.
Respondents, on the other hand, assail in their petition in G.R. No. 186059,
the issuance of the writ of amparo. They raise the following arguments:
I
THE TRIAL COURTS JUDGMENT ORDERING RESPONDENT-PETITIONERS TO: (A) DISCLOSE
WHERE JAMES BALAO IS DETAINED AND CONFINED; (B) TO RELEASE JAMES BALAO
CONSIDERING HIS UNLAWFUL DETENTION SINCE HIS ABDUCTION AND (C) TO CEASE
AND DESIST FROM FURTHER INFLICTING HARM UPON HIS PERSON IS BASED PURELY ON
CONJECTURES, SURMISES AND HEARSAY EVIDENCE; HENCE, IT MUST BE SET ASIDE.
II

RESPONDENT-PETITIONERS HAD PROVEN THAT THEY OBSERVED EXTRAORDINARY


DILIGENCE AS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS IN THE
PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES.
III
THE FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN THE MANALO CASE
ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE CASE AT BAR; HENCE, THE TRIAL COURT GROSSLY
ERRED IN APPLYING THE RULING THEREIN TO THE CASE AT BAR.
IV
THE TRIAL COURT CORRECTLY DENIED PETITIONER-RESPONDENTS PRAYER FOR THE
ISSUANCE OF AN INSPECTION ORDER, PRODUCTION ORDER AND A WITNESS
PROTECTION ORDER.

[28]

Our Ruling

The Rule on the Writ of Amparo was promulgated on October 24, 2007
amidst rising incidence of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. It
was formulated in the exercise of this Courts expanded rule-making power for
the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights enshrined in the 1987
Constitution, albeit limited to these two situations. Extralegal killings refer to
killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or
judicial proceedings.[29] On the other hand, enforced disappearances are
attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention, or abduction of a
person by a government official or organized groups or private individuals acting
with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of the
State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to
acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such person outside the
protection of law.[30]
Section 18 of the Amparo Rule provides:
SEC. 18. Judgment. - The court shall render judgment within ten (10) days from
the time the petition is submitted for decision. If the allegations in the petition

are proven by substantial evidence, the court shall grant the privilege of the writ and
such reliefs as may be proper and appropriate; otherwise, the privilege shall be denied.
(Emphasis supplied.)

The threshold issue in this case is whether the totality of evidence satisfies
the degree of proof required by the Amparo Rule to establish an enforced
disappearance.
In granting the privilege of the writ of amparo, the trial court ratiocinated:
On record is evidence pointing to the more likely than not motive for James
Balaos disappearance his activist/political leanings. This is shown by the several
incidents relating to harassments of activists as mentioned in the unrebutted testimony
of Beverly Longid and the enumeration made in par. 48 (a) to (cc) of the petition. There
were also references in the petitions pars. 52 et. seq. to the CPA (of which James Balao
was an active staff) as a front organization of the Communist Party of the PhilippinesNew Peoples Army. More likely than not he was not taken to parts unknown for
reasons other than his involvement in the CPA, that is, politically-motivated. The Court
considers these facts enough circumstances to establish substantial evidence of an
enforced disappearance as defined under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. For after
all, substantial evidence requires nothing greater than more likely than not degree
of proof.

[31]

(Emphasis supplied.)

The trial court gave considerable weight to the discussion in the petition of
briefing papers supposedly obtained from the AFP (Oplan Bantay-Laya
implemented since 2001) indicating that the anti-insurgency campaign of the
military under the administration of President Arroyo included targeting of
identified legal organizations under the NDF, which included the CPA, and their
members, as enemies of the state. The petition cited other documents
confirming such all-out war policy which resulted in the prevalence of
extrajudicial killings: namely, the published reports of the Melo Commission and
the UNHRCs Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary
Executions, Mr. Philip Alston. The petition also enumerated previously
documented cases of extralegal killings of activists belonging to militant groups,
including CPA leaders and workers, almost all of which have been preceded by
surveillance by military or police agents and acts of harassment. Consequently,

petitioners postulated that the surveillance on James and his subsequent


abduction are interconnected with the harassments, surveillance, threats and
political assassination of other members and officers of CPA which is his
organization.
We hold that such documented practice of targeting activists in the
militarys counter-insurgency program by itself does not fulfill the evidentiary
standard provided in the Amparo Rule to establish an enforced disappearance.
In the case of Roxas v. Macapagal-Arroyo,[32] the Court noted that the
similarity between the circumstances attending a particular case of abduction
with those surrounding previous instances of enforced disappearances does not,
necessarily, carry sufficient weight to prove that the government orchestrated
such abduction. Accordingly, the trial court in this case cannot simply infer
government involvement in the abduction of James from past similar incidents in
which the victims also worked or affiliated with the CPA and other left-leaning
groups.
The petition further premised government complicity in the abduction of
James on the very positions held by the respondents, stating that -The abduction of James Balao can only be attributed to the Respondents who
have command responsibility of all the actions of their subordinates and who are the
primary persons in the implementation of the governments all out war
[33]

policy.

(Emphasis supplied.)

The Court in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo[34] had the occasion to expound


on the doctrine of command responsibility and why it has little bearing, if at all,
in amparo proceedings.
The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds its context in the
development of laws of war and armed combats. According to Fr. Bernas, command
responsibility, in its simplest terms, means the responsibility of commanders for
crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons
subject to their control in international wars or domestic conflict. In this sense,
command responsibility is properly a form of criminal complicity. The Hague

Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of command responsibility, foreshadowing


the present-day precept of holding a superior accountable for the atrocities committed
by his subordinates should he be remiss in his duty of control over them. As then
formulated, command responsibility is an omission mode of individual criminal
liability, whereby the superior is made responsible for crimes committed by his
subordinates for failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators (as opposed to crimes he
ordered).
The doctrine has recently been codified in the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the Philippines is signatory. Sec. 28 of the
Statute imposes individual responsibility on military commanders for crimes committed
by forces under their control. The country is, however, not yet formally bound by the
terms and provisions embodied in this treaty-statute, since the Senate has yet to extend
concurrence in its ratification.
While there are several pending bills on command responsibility, there is still no
Philippine law that provides for criminal liability under that doctrine.
It may plausibly be contended that command responsibility, as legal basis to
hold military/police commanders liable for extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances,
or threats, may be made applicable to this jurisdiction on the theory that the command
responsibility doctrine now constitutes a principle of international law or customary
international law in accordance with the incorporation clause of the Constitution. Still,
it would be inappropriate to apply to these proceedings the doctrine of command
responsibility, as the CA seemed to have done, as a form of criminal complicity
through omission, for individual respondents criminal liability, if there be any, is
beyond the reach ofamparo. In other words, the Court does not rule in such
proceedings on any issue of criminal culpability, even if incidentally a crime or an
infraction of an administrative rule may have been committed. As the Court stressed
inSecretary of National Defense v. Manalo (Manalo), the writ of amparo was conceived
to provide expeditious and effective procedural relief against violations or threats of
violation of the basic rights to life, liberty, and security of persons; the corresponding
amparo suit, however, is not an action to determine criminal guilt requiring proof
beyond reasonable doubt x x x or administrative liability requiring substantial evidence
that will require full and exhaustive proceedings. Of the same tenor, and by way of
expounding on the nature and role of amparo, is what the Court said in Razon v. Tagitis:
It does not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for
the disappearance [threats thereof or extrajudicial killings]; it
determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced
disappearance [threats thereof or extrajudicial killings] for purposes of

imposing the appropriate remedies to address the disappearance [or


extrajudicial killings].
xxxx
As the law now stands, extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances in this jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately
from the component criminal acts undertaken to carry out these killings
and enforced disappearances and are now penalized under the Revised
Penal Code and special laws. The simple reason is that the Legislature
has not spoken on the matter; the determination of what acts are
criminal x x x are matters of substantive law that only the Legislature
has the power to enact. x x x

[35]

Subsequently, we have clarified that the inapplicability of the doctrine of


command responsibility in an amparo proceeding does not, by any measure,
preclude impleading military or police commanders on the ground that the
complained acts in the petition were committed with their direct or indirect
acquiescence. Commanders may therefore be impleadednot actually on the
basis of command responsibilitybut rather on the ground of their responsibility,
or at least accountability.[36]
In Razon,
Jr.
v.
defined responsibility and accountability as
to amparo proceedings, as follows:

Tagitis,[37]the
these
terms
are

Court
applied

x x x Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by


substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an
enforced disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among
them, the directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the
responsible parties in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers
to the measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who exhibited
involvement in the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity
to the level of responsibility defined above; or who are imputed with knowledge relating
to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those
who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the
investigation of the enforced disappearance. x x x

[38]

(Emphasis supplied.)

Assessing the evidence on record, we find that the participation in any


manner of military and police authorities in the abduction of James has not been
adequately proven. The identities of the abductors have not been established,
much less their link to any military or police unit. There is likewise no concrete
evidence indicating that James is being held or detained upon orders of or with
acquiescence of government agents. Consequently, the trial court erred in
granting amparo reliefs by ordering the respondent officials (1) to disclose where
James Balao is detained or confined, (2) to release him from such detention or
confinement, and (3) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his
person. Such pronouncement of responsibility on the part of public respondents
cannot be made given the insufficiency of evidence.[39] However, we agree with
the trial court in finding that the actions taken by respondent officials are very
limited, superficial and one-sided. Its candid and forthright observations on the
efforts exerted by the respondents are borne by the evidence on record, thus:
x x x the violation of the right to security as protection by the government is
unmistakable. The police and the military miserably failed in conducting an effective
investigation of James Balaos abduction as revealed by the investigation report of
respondents own witnesses Honorable Chief Superintendent Eugene Martin and
Honorable Senior Superintendent Fortunato Albas. The investigation was to use the
words in The Secretary of National Defense, et. al., v. Manalo et. al. verylimited,
superficial and one-sided.
The actions taken were simply these: (a) organization of the Task Force Balao;
(b) conduct of ocular inspection at the place of abduction; (c) taking of sworn
statements of civilian witnesses, whose testimonies did not prove much as shown by the
continued disappearance of James Balao; (d) dialogue with implicated military officials
as well as family members and friends of James Balao; and (e) writing of letter to the
CPA. The Court does not want to second-guess police protocols in investigation but
surely some things are amiss where the investigation DID NOT INVESTIGATE the military
officials believed to be behind the abduction as they were merely invited to a dialogue
and where the investigation DID NOT LEAD to Camp Dangwa where the abductors were
supposed to have proceeded as narrated by the witnesses. To the mind of this Court,
there is a seeming prejudice in the process of investigation to pin suspects who are not
connected with the military establishments. By any measure, this cannot be a thorough
and good faith investigation but one that falls short of that required by the Writ of
Amparo.

[40]

Respondents reiterate that they did their job the best they could and fault
the petitioners instead for their non-cooperation which caused delay in the
investigation. They particularly blamed Beverly who failed to attend the October
15, 2008 invitation to appear before the investigators and shed light on Jamess
disappearance.
We are not persuaded.
First, the Task Force Balao had acknowledged the fact that Pol. Chief Supt.
Martin was already in constant coordination with the Balao family and CPA, and
hence the investigators could have readily obtained whatever information they
needed from Beverly. Pol. Chief Supt. Martin even mentioned in his affidavit that
Task Force Balao was able to secure the testimonies of two eyewitnesses with the
help of Beverly and the Balao family, and that as a result cartographic sketches
were made of some suspects.[41] Moreover, Beverly had explained during the
cross-examination conducted by Associate Solicitor Paderanga that she was at the
time coordinating with national and local agencies even as the police investigation
was ongoing.[42] There is nothing wrong with petitioners simultaneous recourse
to other legal avenues to gain public attention for a possible enforced
disappearance case involving their very own colleague. Respondents should even
commend such initiative that will encourage those who may have any information
on the identities and whereabouts of Jamess abductors to help the PNP in its
investigation.
Assuming there was reluctance on the part of the Balao family and CPA to
submit Jamess relatives or colleagues for questioning by agents of the PNP and
AFP, they cannot be faulted for such stance owing to the militarys perception of
their organization as a communist front: ergo, enemies of the State who may be
targeted for liquidation. But more important, such non-cooperation provides no
excuse for respondents incomplete and one-sided investigations. As we held
in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo[43]:
As regards P/Supt. Romero and P/Insp. Gomez, the Court is more than satisfied
that they have no direct or indirect hand in the alleged enforced disappearance of
Lourdes and the threats against her daughters. As police officers, though, theirs was

the duty to thoroughly investigate the abduction of Lourdes, a duty that would include
looking into the cause, manner, and like details of the disappearance; identifying
witnesses and obtaining statements from them; and following evidentiary leads, such
as the Toyota Revo vehicle with plate number XRR 428, and securing and preserving
evidence related to the abduction and the threats that may aid in the prosecution of
the person/s responsible. As we said in Manalo, the right to security, as a guarantee of
protection by the government, is breached by the superficial and one-sidedhence,
ineffectiveinvestigation by the military or the police of reported cases under their
jurisdiction. As found by the CA, the local police stations concerned, including P/Supt.
Roquero and P/Insp. Gomez, did conduct a preliminary fact-finding on petitioners
complaint. They could not, however, make any headway, owing to what was perceived
to be the refusal of Lourdes, her family, and her witnesses to cooperate. Petitioners
counsel, Atty. Rex J.M.A. Fernandez, provided a plausible explanation for his clients and
their witnesses attitude, [They] do not trust the government agencies to protect
them.The difficulty arising from a situation where the party whose complicity in
extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, as the case may be, is alleged to be the
same party who investigates it is understandable, though.
The seeming reluctance on the part of the Rubricos or their witnesses to
cooperate ought not to pose a hindrance to the police in pursuing, on its own
initiative, the investigation in question to its natural end. To repeat what the Court
said in Manalo, the right to security of persons is a guarantee of the protection of
ones right by the government. And this protection includes conducting effective
investigations of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, or threats of the same
kind. The nature and importance of an investigation are captured in the Velasquez
Rodriguez case, in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights pronounced:
*The duty to investigate+ must be undertaken in a serious
manner and not as a mere formality preordained to be ineffective. An
investigation must have an objective and be assumed by the State as its
own legal duty, not a step taken by private interests that depends
upon the initiative of the victim or his family or upon offer of proof,
without
an
effective
search
for the
truth
by
the
government.

[44]

(Emphasis supplied.)

Indeed, why zero in on Jamess own kin and colleagues when independent
eyewitnesses already provided firsthand accounts of the incident, as well as
descriptions of the abductors? With the cartographic sketches having been made
from interviews and statements of witnesses, the police investigators could have
taken proper steps to establish the personal identities of said suspects and yet

this was not done, the police investigators not even lifting a finger to ascertain
whether the cartographic sketches would match with any enlisted personnel of
AFP and PNP, or their civilian agents/assets. As to the vehicles, the plate numbers
of which have earlier been disclosed by James to his family and the CPA as used in
conducting surveillance on him prior to his abduction, the military merely denied
having a vehicle with such plate number on their property list despite the fact
that the same plate number (USC 922) was sighted attached to a car which was
parked at the PA-ISU compound in Navy Base, Baguio City. As to the other plate
number given by James (TNH 787), while the police investigators were able to
verify the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle, there is no
showing that said owner had been investigated or that efforts had been made to
locate the said vehicle. Respondents insistence that the CPA produce the alleged
companions of James in his rented residence for investigation by the PNP team,
while keeping silent as to why the police investigators had not actively pursued
those evidentiary leads provided by eyewitnessesand the Balao family, only
reinforce the trial courts observation that the investigators are seemingly intent
on building up a case against other persons so as to deflect any suspicion of
military or police involvement in James Balaos disappearance.
In view of the foregoing evidentiary gaps, respondents clearly failed to
discharge their burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation of Jamess
abduction. Such ineffective investigation extant in the records of this case
prevents us from completely exonerating the respondents from allegations of
accountability for James disappearance. The reports submitted by the PNP
Regional Office, Task Force Balao and Baguio City Police Station do not contain
meaningful results or details on the depth and extent of the investigation
made. In Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis, the Court observed that such reports of top police
officials indicating the personnel and units they directed to investigate can never
constitute exhaustive and meaningful investigation, or equal detailed
investigative reports of the activities undertaken to search for the victim.[45] In
the same case we stressed that the standard of diligence required the duty of
public officials and employees to observe extraordinary diligence called for
extraordinary measures expected in the protection of constitutional rights and in

the consequent handling and investigation of extra-judicial killings and enforced


disappearance cases.
As to the matter of dropping President Arroyo as party-respondent, though
not raised in the petitions, we hold that the trial court clearly erred in holding that
presidential immunity cannot be properly invoked in anamparo proceeding. As
president, then President Arroyo was enjoying immunity from suit when the
petition for a writ of amparo was filed. Moreover, the petition is bereft of any
allegation as to what specific presidential act or omission violated or threatened
to violate petitioners protected rights.[46]
In order to effectively address thru the amparo remedy the violations of
the constitutional rights to liberty and security of James who remains missing to
date, the Court deems it appropriate to refer this case back to the trial court for
further investigation by the PNP and CIDG and monitoring of their investigative
activities that complies with the standard of diligence required by
the Amparo Rule. Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6975, otherwise known as the
PNP Law[47] specifies the PNP as the governmental office with the mandate to
*i+nvestigate and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, bring
offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution. The trial court should further
validate the results of such investigations and actions through hearings it may
deem necessary to conduct.
Lastly, on the denial of the prayer for interim reliefs under
the Amparo Rule.
An inspection order is an interim relief designed to give support or
strengthen the claim of a petitioner in an amparo petition, in order to aid the
court before making a decision.[48] A basic requirement before anamparo court
may grant an inspection order is that the place to be inspected is reasonably
determinable from the allegations of the party seeking the order.[49] In this case,
the issuance of inspection order was properly denied since the petitioners
specified several military and police establishments based merely on the
allegation that the testimonies of victims and witnesses in previous incidents of

similar abductions involving activists disclosed that those premises were used as
detention centers. In the same vein, the prayer for issuance of a production order
was predicated on petitioners bare allegation that it obtained confidential
information from an unidentified military source, that the name of James was
included in the so-called Order of Battle. Indeed, the trial court could not have
sanctioned any fishing expedition by precipitate issuance of inspection and
production orders on the basis of insufficient claims of one party.
Nonetheless, the trial court is not precluded, as further evidence warrants,
to grant the above interim reliefs to aid it in making a decision upon evaluation of
the actions taken by the respondents under the norm of extraordinary diligence.
WHEREFORE, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 186050 and 186059 are PARTLY
GRANTED. The Judgment dated January 19, 2009 of the Regional Trial Court of La
Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63, in Special Proceeding No. 08-AMP-0001
is MODIFIED as follows:
1) REVERSING the grant of the privilege of the writ of amparo;
2) AFFIRMING the denial of the prayer for inspection and production
orders, without prejudice to the subsequent grant thereof, in the
course of hearing and other developments in the investigations by the
Philippine National Police/Philippine National Police Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group and the Armed Forces of the
Philippines;
3) ORDERING the incumbent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, or his successor, and the incumbent Director General of
the Philippine National Police, or his successor, to CONTINUE the
investigations and actions already commenced by the Philippine
National Police Regional OfficeCordillera, Baguio City Police, Northern
Luzon Command, Philippine National Police/Philippine National Police
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Philippine Army-

Intelligence Service Unit and other concerned units, and specifically


take and continue to take the necessary steps:
(a) to identify the persons described in the cartographic sketches
submitted by Task Force Balao;
(b) to locate and search the vehicles bearing the plate numbers
submitted by the petitioners and which James Balao had reported
to be conducting surveillance on his person prior to his abduction
on September 17, 2008, and investigate the registered owners or
whoever the previous and present possessors/transferees
thereof; and to pursue any other leads relevant to the abduction
of James Balao;
The incumbent Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff,
Philippine National Police Director General, or their successors, shall
ensure that the investigations and actions of their respective units on
the abduction of James Balao are pursued with extraordinary diligence
as required by Sec. 17 of the Amparo Rule.
For purposes of these investigations, the Philippine National
Police/Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection
Group shall periodically report the detailed results of its investigation
to the trial court for its consideration and action. On behalf of this
Court, the trial court shall pass upon the sufficiency of their
investigative efforts. The Philippine National Police and the Philippine
National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group shall have
six (6) months from notice hereof to undertake their
investigations. Within fifteen (15) days after completion of the
investigations, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
and the DirectorGeneral of the Philippine National Police shall submit
a full report of the results of the said investigations to the trial
court. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the trial court shall submit
its full reportto this Court.

These directives and those of the trial court made pursuant to this
Decision shall be given to, and shall be directly enforceable against,
whoever may be the incumbent Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief
of Staff, Director General of the Philippine National Police and Chief of
the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection
Group and other concerned units, under pain of contempt from this
Court when the initiatives and efforts at disclosure and investigation
constitute less than the EXTRAORDINARY DILIGENCE that
the Amparo Rule and the circumstances of the case demand; and
4) DROPPING former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as partyrespondent in the petition for writ of amparo;
This case is hereby REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad,
Benguet, Branch 63 for continuation of proceedings in Special Proceeding No. 08AMP-0001 for the purposes of monitoring compliance with the above directives
and determining whether, in the light of any recent reports or recommendations,
there would already be sufficient evidence to hold any of the public respondents
responsible, or, at least, accountable. After making such determination, the trial
court shall submit its own report and recommendation to this Court for final
action. The trial court will continue to have jurisdiction over this case in order to
accomplish its tasks under this decision;
Accordingly, the public respondents shall remain personally impleaded in
this petition to answer for any responsibilities and/or accountabilities they may
have incurred during their incumbencies.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
EN BANC
EDGARDO NAVIA,[1] RUBEN
DIO,[2] and ANDREW BUISING,
Petitioners,

G.R. No. 184467

Present:

- versus -

CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA,
SERENO,
REYES, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

VIRGINIA PARDICO, for and in


behalf and in representation of
Promulgated:
BENHUR V. PARDICO
Respondent.
June 19, 2012
x--------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
For the protective writ of amparo to issue in enforced disappearance cases,
allegation and proof that the persons subject thereof are missing are not enough. It must
also be shown by the required quantum of proof that their disappearance was carried out
by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, [the government] or a political

organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge [the same or] give information on the
fate or whereabouts of [said missing] persons.[3]
This petition for review on certiorari[4] filed in relation to Section 19 of A.M. No.
07-9-12-SC[5] challenges the July 24, 2008 Decision[6] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 20, Malolos City which granted the Petition for Writ of Amparo[7] filed by
herein respondent against the petitioners.
Factual Antecedents
On March 31, 2008, at around 8:30 p.m., a vehicle of Asian Land Strategies
Corporation[8] (Asian Land) arrived at the house of Lolita M. Lapore (Lolita) located at
7A Lot 9, Block 54, Grand Royale Subdivision, BarangayLugam, Malolos City. The
arrival of the vehicle awakened Lolitas son, Enrique Lapore (Bong), and Benhur Pardico
(Ben), who were then both staying in her house. When Lolita went out to investigate, she
saw two uniformed guards disembarking from the vehicle. One of them immediately
asked Lolita where they could find her son Bong. Before Lolita could answer, the guard
saw Bong and told him that he and Ben should go with them to the security office
ofAsian Land because a complaint was lodged against them for theft of electric wires and
lamps in the subdivision.[9]
Shortly thereafter, Bong, Lolita and Ben were in the office of the security
department of Asian Land also located in Grand Royale Subdivision.[10] The supervisor
of the security guards, petitioner Edgardo Navia (Navia), also arrived thereat.
As to what transpired next, the parties respective versions diverge.
Version of the Petitioners
Petitioners alleged that they invited Bong and Ben to their office because they
received a report from a certain Mrs. Emphasis, a resident of Grand Royale Subdivision,
that she saw Bong and Ben removing a lamp from a post in said subdivision.[11] The
reported unauthorized taking of the lamp was relayed thru radio to petitioners Ruben Dio
(Dio) and Andrew Buising (Buising), who both work as security guards at
the Asian Land security department. Following their departments standard operating
procedure, Dio and Buising entered the report in their logbook and proceeded to the
house of Mrs. Emphasis. It was there where Dio and Buising were able to confirm who
the suspects were. They thus repaired to the house of Lolita where Bong and Ben were
staying to invite the two suspects to their office. Bong and Ben voluntarily went with
them.

At the security office, Dio and Buising interviewed Bong and Ben. The suspects
admitted that they took the lamp but clarified that they were only transferring it to a post
nearer to the house of Lolita.[12] Soon, Navia arrived and Buising informed him that the
complainant was not keen in participating in the investigation. Since there was no
complainant, Navia ordered the release of Bong and Ben. Bong then signed a statement
to the effect that the guards released him without inflicting any harm or injury to
him.[13] His mother Lolita also signed the logbook below an entry which states that she
will never again harbor or entertain Ben in her house. Thereafter, Lolita and Bong left
the security office.
Ben was left behind as Navia was still talking to him about those who might be
involved in the reported loss of electric wires and lamps within the subdivision. After a
brief discussion though, Navia allowed Ben to leave. Ben also affixed his signature on
the logbook to affirm the statements entered by the guards that he was released unharmed
and without any injury.[14]
Upon Navias instructions, Dio and Buising went back to the house of Lolita to
make her sign the logbook as witness that they indeed released Ben from their
custody. Lolita asked Buising to read aloud that entry in the logbook where she was
being asked to sign, to which Buising obliged. Not contented, Lolita put on her reading
glasses and read the entry in the logbook herself before affixing her signature
therein. After which, the guards left.
Subsequently, petitioners received an invitation[15] from the Malolos City Police
Station requesting them to appear thereat on April 17, 2008 relative to the complaint of
Virginia Pardico (Virginia) about her missing husband Ben. In compliance with the
invitation, all three petitioners appeared at the Malolos City Police Station. However,
since Virginia was not present despite having received the same invitation, the meeting
was reset to April 22, 2008.[16]
On April 22, 2008, Virginia attended the investigation. Petitioners informed her
that they released Ben and that they have no information as to his present
whereabouts.[17] They assured Virginia though that they will cooperate and help in the
investigation of her missing husband.[18]
Version of the Respondent
According to respondent, Bong and Ben were not merely invited. They were
unlawfully arrested, shoved into the Asian Land vehicle and brought to the security office
for investigation. Upon seeing Ben at the security office, Navia lividly grumbled Ikaw
na naman?[19] and slapped him while he was still seated. Ben begged for mercy, but his

pleas were met with a flurry of punches coming from Navia hitting him on different parts
of his body.[20] Navia then took hold of his gun, looked at Bong, and said, Wala kang
nakita at wala kang narinig, papatayin ko na si Ben.[21]
Bong admitted that he and Ben attempted to take the lamp. He explained that the
area where their house is located is very dark and his father had long been asking the
administrator of Grand Royale Subdivision to install a lamp to illumine their area. But
since nothing happened, he took it upon himself to take a lamp from one of the posts in
the subdivision and transfer it to a post near their house. However, the lamp Bong got
was no longer working. Thus, he reinstalled it on the post from which he took it and no
longer pursued his plan. [22]
Later on, Lolita was instructed to sign an entry in the guards logbook where she
undertook not to allow Ben to stay in her house anymore.[23] Thereafter, Navia again
asked Lolita to sign the logbook. Upon Lolitas inquiry as to why she had to sign again,
Navia explained that they needed proof that they released her son Bong unharmed but
that Ben had to stay as the latters case will be forwarded to the barangay. Since she has
poor eyesight, Lolita obligingly signed the logbook without reading it and then left with
Bong.[24] At that juncture, Ben grabbed Bong and pleaded not to be left alone. However,
since they were afraid of Navia, Lolita and Bong left the security office at once leaving
Ben behind.[25]
Moments after Lolita and Bong reached their house, Buising arrived and asked
Lolita to sign the logbook again. Lolita asked Buising why she had to sign again when
she already twice signed the logbook at the headquarters. Buising assured her that what
she was about to sign only pertains to Bongs release. Since it was dark and she has poor
eyesight, Lolita took Buisings word and signed the logbook without, again, reading what
was written in it. [26]
The following morning, Virginia went to the Asian Land security office to visit
her husband Ben, but only to be told that petitioners had already released him together
with Bong the night before. She then looked for Ben, asked around, and went to
the barangay. Since she could not still find her husband, Virginia reported the matter to
the police.
In the course of the investigation on Bens disappearance, it dawned upon Lolita
that petitioners took advantage of her poor eyesight and naivete. They made her sign the
logbook as a witness that they already released Ben when in truth and in fact she never
witnessed his actual release. The last time she saw Ben was when she left him in
petitioners custody at the security office.[27]

Exasperated with the mysterious disappearance of her husband, Virginia filed a


Petition for Writ of Amparo[28] before the RTC of Malolos City. Finding the petition
sufficient in form and substance, the amparo court issued an Order[29] dated June 26,
2008 directing, among others, the issuance of a writ of amparo and the production of the
body of Ben before it on June 30, 2008. Thus:
WHEREFORE, conformably with Section 6 of the Supreme Court Resolution
[in] A.M. No. 07-[9]-12-SC, also known as The Rule On The Writ Of Amparo, let a
writ of amparo be issued, as follows:
(1) ORDERING [petitioners] Edgardo Navia, Ruben Dio and Andrew Buising
of the Asian Land Security Agency to produce before the Court the body of
aggrieved party Benhur Pardico, on Monday, June 30, 2008, at 10:30 a.m.;
(2) ORDERING the holding of a summary hearing of the petition on the
aforementioned date and time, and DIRECTING the [petitioners] to
personally appear thereat;
(3) COMMANDING [petitioners] Edgardo Navia, Ruben Dio and Andrew
Buising to file, within a non-extendible period of seventy-two (72) hours
from service of the writ, a verified written return with supporting affidavits
which shall, among other things, contain the following:
a)

The lawful defenses to show that the [petitioners] did not violate or threaten
with violation the right to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party,
through any act or omission;

b)

The steps or actions taken by the [petitioners] to determine the fate


or whereabouts of the aggrieved party and the person or persons
responsible for the threat, act or omission; and

c)

All relevant information in the possession of the [petitioners] pertaining to


the threat, act or omission against the aggrieved party.

(4) GRANTING, motu proprio, a Temporary Protection Order prohibiting the


[petitioners], or any persons acting for and in their behalf, under pain of
contempt, from threatening, harassing or inflicting any harm to [respondent],
his immediate family and any [member] of his household.
The Branch Sheriff is directed to immediately serve personally on the
[petitioners], at their address indicated in the petition, copies of the writ as well as this
order, together with copies of the petition and its annexes.[30]

A Writ of Amparo[31] was accordingly issued and served on the petitioners on June
27, 2008.[32] On June 30, 2008, petitioners filed their Compliance[33] praying for the
denial of the petition for lack of merit.
A summary hearing was thereafter conducted. Petitioners presented the testimony
of Buising, while Virginia submitted the sworn statements[34] of Lolita and Enrique which
the two affirmed on the witness stand.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
On July 24, 2008, the trial court issued the challenged Decision[35] granting the
petition. It disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby grants the privilege of the writ of amparo, and
deems it proper and appropriate, as follows:
(a) To hereby direct the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to
immediately conduct a deep and thorough investigation of the [petitioners] Edgardo
Navia, Ruben Dio and Andrew Buising in connection with the circumstances
surrounding the disappearance of [Benhur] Pardico, utilizing in the process, as part of the
investigation, the documents forming part of the records of this case;
(b) To hereby direct the NBI to extend to the family of [Benhur] Pardico and
the witnesses who testified in this case protection as it may deem necessary to secure
their safety and security; and
(c) To hereby direct the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan to
investigate the circumstances concerning the legality of the arrest of [Benhur] Pardico by
the [petitioners] in this case, utilizing in the process, as part of said investigation, the
pertinent documents and admissions forming part of the record of this case, and take
whatever course/s of action as may be warranted.
Furnish immediately copies of this decision to the NBI, through the Office of
Director Nestor Mantaring, and to the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan.
SO ORDERED.[36]

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration[37] which was denied by the trial
court in an Order[38] dated August 29, 2008.
Hence, this petition raising the following issues for our consideration:

4.1. WHETHER X X X THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY


ERRED IN RULING THAT RESPONDENT IS ENTITLED TO THE PRIVILEGE
OF THE WRIT OF AMPARO.
4.1.1. WHETHER X X X RESPONDENT WAS ABLE TO
ESTABLISH THAT PETITIONERS HAVE COMMITTED OR ARE
COMMITTING ACTS IN VIOLATION OF HER HUSBANDS RIGHT TO
LIFE, LIBERTY, OR SECURITY.
4.1.2. WHETHER X X X RESPONDENT SUFFICIENTLY
ESTABLISHED THE FACT OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF BENHUR
PARDICO.
4.1.3. WHETHER X X X RESPONDENT WAS ABLE TO
ESTABLISH THAT THE ALLEGED DISAPPEARANCE OF BENHUR
PARDICO WAS AT THE INSTANCE OF HEREIN PETITIONERS.[39]

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioners essentially assail the sufficiency of the amparo petition. They contend
that the writ of amparo is available only in cases where the factual and legal bases of the
violation or threatened violation of the aggrieved partys right to life, liberty and security
are clear. Petitioners assert that in the case at bench, Virginia miserably failed to establish
all these. First, the petition is wanting on its face as it failed to state with some degree of
specificity the alleged unlawful act or omission of the petitioners constituting a violation
of or a threat to Bens right to life, liberty and security. And second, it cannot be deduced
from the evidence Virginia adduced that Ben is missing; or that petitioners had a hand in
his alleged disappearance. On the other hand, the entries in the logbook which bear the
signatures of Ben and Lolita are eloquent proof that petitioners released Ben on March
31, 2008 at around 10:30 p.m. Petitioners thus posit that the trial court erred in issuing
the writ and in holding them responsible for Bens disappearance.
Our Ruling
Virginias Petition for Writ of Amparo is fatally defective and must perforce be
dismissed, but not for the reasons adverted to by the petitioners.
A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC or The Rule on the Writ of Amparo was promulgated to
arrest the rampant extralegal killings and enforced disappearances in the country. Its
purpose is to provide an expeditious and effective relief 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. [40]

Here, Bens right to life, liberty and security is firmly settled as the parties do not
dispute his identity as the same person summoned and questioned at petitioners security
office on the night of March 31, 2008. Such uncontroverted fact ipso facto established
Bens inherent and constitutionally enshrined right to life, liberty and security. Article
6[41] of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[42] recognizes every
human beings inherent right to life, while Article 9[43] thereof ordains that everyone has
the right to liberty and security. The right to life must be protected by law while the right
to liberty and security cannot be impaired except on grounds provided by and in
accordance with law. This overarching command against deprivation of life, liberty and
security without due process of law is also embodied in our fundamental law.[44]
The pivotal question now that confronts us is whether Bens disappearance as
alleged in Virginias petition and proved during the summary proceedings conducted
before the court a quo, falls within the ambit of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC and relevant laws.
It does not. Section 1 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC provides:
SECTION 1. Petition. The petition for 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.
The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats
thereof. (Emphasis ours.)

While Section 1 provides A.M. No. 07-9-12-SCs coverage, said Rules does not,
however, define extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. This omission was
intentional as the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court which drafted A.M. No.
07-9-12-SC chose to allow it to evolve through time and jurisprudence and through
substantive laws as may be promulgated by Congress.[45] Then, the budding
jurisprudence on amparo blossomed in Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis[46] when this Court defined
enforced disappearances. The Court in that case applied the generally accepted principles
of international law and adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All
Persons from Enforced Disappearances definition of enforced disappearances, as the
arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the
State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or
acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty
or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place
such a person outside the protection of the law.[47]

Not long thereafter, another significant development affecting A.M. No. 07-9-12SC came about after Congress enacted Republic Act (RA) No. 9851[48] on December 11,
2009. Section 3(g) thereof defines enforced or involuntary disappearances as follows:
(g) "Enforced or involuntary disappearance of persons" means the arrest,
detention, or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization,
support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization
followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or
to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with
the intention of removing from the protection of the law for a
prolonged period of time.

Then came Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo[49] where Justice Arturo D. Brion wrote


in his Separate Opinion that with the enactment of RA No. 9851, the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo is now a procedural law anchored, not only on the constitutional rights to the
rights to life, liberty and security, but on a concrete statutory definition as well of what an
enforced or involuntary disappearance is.[50] Therefore, A.M. No. 07-9-12-SCs
reference to enforced disappearances should be construed to mean the enforced or
involuntary disappearance of persons contemplated in Section 3(g) of RA No.
9851. Meaning, in probing enforced disappearance cases, courts should read A.M. No.
07-9-12-SC in relation to RA No. 9851.
From the statutory definition of enforced disappearance, thus, we can derive the
following elements that constitute it:
(a)

that there be an arrest, detention, abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty;

(b) that it be carried out by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, the
State or a political organization;
(c)

that it be followed by the State or political organizations refusal to acknowledge or


give information on the fate or whereabouts of the person subject of
the amparo petition; and,

(d) that the intention for such refusal is to remove subject person from the protection of
the law for a prolonged period of time.

As thus dissected, it is now clear that for the protective writ of amparo to issue,
allegation and proof that the persons subject thereof are missing are not enough. It must
also be shown and proved by substantial evidence that the disappearance was carried out

by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, the State or a political
organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the same or give information on the
fate or whereabouts of said missing persons, with the intention of removing them from
the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time. Simply put, the petitioner in
an amparo case has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the indispensable
element of government participation.
In the present case, we do not doubt Bongs testimony that Navia had a menacing
attitude towards Ben and that he slapped and inflicted fistic blows upon him. Given the
circumstances and the pugnacious character of Navia at that time, his threatening
statement, Wala kang nakita at wala kang narinig, papatayin ko na si Ben, cannot be
taken lightly. It unambiguously showed his predisposition at that time. In addition, there
is nothing on record which would support petitioners assertion that they released Ben on
the night of March 31, 2008 unscathed from their wrath. Lolita sufficiently explained
how she was prodded into affixing her signatures in the logbook without reading the
entries therein. And so far, the information petitioners volunteered are sketchy at best,
like the alleged complaint of Mrs. Emphasis who was never identified or presented in
court and whose complaint was never reduced in writing.
But lest it be overlooked, in an amparo petition, proof of disappearance alone is
not enough. It is likewise essential to establish that such disappearance was carried out
with the direct or indirect authorization, support or acquiescence of the government. This
indispensable element of State participation is not present in this case. The petition does
not contain any allegation of State complicity, and none of the evidence presented tend to
show that the government or any of its agents orchestrated Bens disappearance. In fact,
none of its agents, officials, or employees were impleaded or implicated
in Virginias amparo petition whether as responsible or accountable persons.[51] Thus, in
the absence of an allegation or proof that the government or its agents had a hand in
Bens disappearance or that they failed to exercise extraordinary diligence in
investigating
his
case,
the
Court
will definitely not hold the government or its agents either as responsible or
accountable persons.
We are aware that under Section 1 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC a writ of amparo may
lie against a private individual or entity. But even if the person sought to be held
accountable or responsible in an amparo petition is a private individual or entity, still,
government involvement in the disappearance remains an indispensable element. Here,
petitioners are mere security guards at Grand Royale Subdivision in Brgy.
Lugam, Malolos City and their principal, theAsian Land, is a private entity. They do not
work for the government and nothing has been presented that would link or connect them

to some covert police, military or governmental operation. As discussed above, to fall


within the ambit of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC in relation to RA No. 9851, the disappearance
must be attended by some governmental involvement. This hallmark of State
participation differentiates an enforced disappearance case from an ordinary case of a
missing person.
WHEREFORE, the July 24, 2008 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
20, Malolos City, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Petition for Writ
of Amparo filed by Virginia Pardico is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila
EN BANC
ARMANDO Q. CANLAS, MIGUEL
D. CAPISTRANO, MARRIETA
PIA,
Petitioners,

versus

G.R. No. 182795


Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,*
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,**
NACHURA, ***
REYES,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:

NAPICO HOMEOWNERS ASSN.,


I XIII, INC., ET AL.,
June 5, 2008
Respondents.
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
RESOLUTION
REYES, R.T., J.:

THE present petition filed on May 26, 2008 seeks the issuance of a Writ of
Amparo upon the following premise:

Petitioners were deprived of their liberty, freedom and/or rights to


shelter enshrined and embodied in our Constitution, as the result of these
nefarious activities of both the Private and Public Respondents. This
ardent request filed before this Honorable Supreme Court is the only
solution to this problem via this newly advocated principles incorporated
in the Rules the RULE ON THE WRIT OF AMPARO.[1]

It appears that petitioners are settlers in a certain parcel of land


situated in Barangay Manggahan, Pasig City. Their dwellings/houses have
either been demolished as of the time of filing of the petition, or is about to
be demolished pursuant to a court judgment.
While they attempted to focus on issuance of what they claimed to be
fraudulent and spurious land titles, to wit:
Petitioners herein are desirous to help the government, the best
way they can, to unearth these so-called syndicates clothed with
governmental functions, in cahoots with the squatting syndicates - - - the low so defines. If only to give its proper meanings, the
Government must be the first one to cleans (sic) its ranks from these
unscrupulous political protges. If unabated would certainly ruin
and/or destroy the efficacy of the Torrens System of land registration in
this Country. It is therefore the ardent initiatives of the herein
Petitioners, by way of the said prayer for the issuance of the Writ of
Amparo, that these unprincipled Land Officials be summoned to
answer their participation in the issuances of these fraudulent and
spurious titles, NOW, in the hands of the Private Respondents. The
Courts of Justice, including this Honorable Supreme Court, are
likewise being made to believe that said titles in the possession of the
Private Respondents were issued untainted with frauds.[2]

what the petition ultimately seeks is the reversal of this Courts dismissal of
petitions in G.R. Nos. 177448, 180768, 177701, 177038, thus:
That, Petitioners herein knew before hand that: there can be no
motion for reconsideration for the second or third time to be filed before
this Honorable Supreme Court. As such therefore, Petitioners herein are
aware of the opinion that this present petition should not in any way be

treated as such motions fore reconsideration. Solely, this petition is only


for the possible issuance of the writ of amparo, although it might affect
the previous rulings of this Honorable Supreme Court in these
cases, G.R. Nos. 177448, 180768, 177701 and 177038. Inherent in the
powers of the Supreme Court of the Philippines is to modify, reverse
and set aside, even its own previous decision, that can not be
thwarted nor influenced by any one, but, only on the basis of merits
and evidence. This is the purpose of this petition for the Writ of
Amparo.[3]

We dismiss the petition.


The Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides:
SECTION 1. Petition. The petition for 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.
The writ shall cover extralegal killings
disappearances or threats thereof. (Emphasis supplied.)

and

enforced

The threatened demolition of a dwelling by virtue of a final judgment of the


court, which in this case was affirmed with finality by this Court in G.R. Nos.
177448, 180768, 177701, 177038, is not included among the enumeration of
rights as stated in the above-quoted Section 1 for which the remedy of a writ
of amparo is made available. Their claim to their dwelling, assuming they still
have any despite the final and executory judgment adverse to them, does not
constitute right to life, liberty and security. There is, therefore, no legal basis for
the issuance of the writ of amparo.
Besides, the factual and legal basis for petitioners claim to the land in
question is not alleged in the petition at all. The Court can only surmise that these
rights and interest had already been threshed out and settled in the four cases cited
above. No writ of amparo may be issued unless there is a clear allegation of the
supposed factual and legal basis of the right sought to be protected.

Under Section 6 of the same rules, the court shall issue the writ upon the
filing of the petition, only if on its face, the court ought to issue said writ.
SECTION 6. Issuance of the Writ. Upon the filing of the
petition, the court, justice or judge shall immediately order the issuance
of the writ if on its face it ought to issue. The clerk of court shall issue
the writ under the seal of the court; or in case of urgent necessity, the
justice or the judge may issue the writ under his or her own hand, and
may deputize any officer or person to serve it.
The writ shall also set the date and time for summary hearing of
the petition which shall not be later than seven (7) days from the date of
its issuance.

Considering that there is no legal basis for its issuance, as in this case, the
writ will not be issued and the petition will be dismissed outright.
This new remedy of writ of amparo which is made available by this Court is
intended for the protection of the highest possible rights of any person, which is his
or her right to life, liberty and security. The Court will not spare any time or effort
on its part in order to give priority to petitions of this nature. However, the Court
will also not waste its precious time and effort on matters not covered by the writ.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.