CA orders NBI to justify detention of suspected Abu Sayyaf member

By Rey Panaligan

The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to present before the Manila regional trial court (RTC) in person and explain the continued detention of Salahim Hairal Dawani, a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

“Wherefore, the petition being sufficient in form and substance, let the writ of habeas corpus issue returnable to the Executive Judge of the RTC of Manila, directing respondents Dante Gierran, Director Sixto M. Burgos Jr., and Alfred Vitta to produce the body of Salahim Hairal Dawani before such court not later than ten o’clock in the morning of March 27, 2019, at which time the respondents shall show cause of the restraint,” the CA resolution stated.

A copy of the resolution was obtained by the Manila Bulletin at almost 5 p.m. on Wednesday (March 27). It was not known immediately if the NBI has complied with the CA directive.

The resolution that contained the writ of habeas corpus was written by Associate Justice Apolinario B. Bruselas Jr.

It granted the petition filed by Dawani’s wife, Jarum Bandang Balongking.

A writ of habeas corpus is an order “directed to a person detaining another, commanding the former to produce the body of the latter at a designated time and place.

The writ “extends to all cases of illegal or arbitrary detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled thereto.”

In her petition, Balongking told the CA that her husband’s continued detention is illegal considering the failure of the NBI to produce the copies of the warrant of arrest and criminal complaint filed against him for his supposed involvement in the Golden Harvest Plantation kidnapping case.

She said that on March 6, 2019 while she and her husband were in their apartment, members of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division (CTD) headed by Vitta arrested her husband without a warrant and without informing them of the reason for his arrest.

She added that since there has been no criminal complaint filed against her husband in court, his continued detention at the NBI is illegal and, thus, he should be released immediately.

In issuing the writ, the CA explained:

“While we share jurisdiction with the RTC to issue extraordinary writ of habeas corpus, such concurrence of jurisdiction, does not, however, afford a party unbridled freedom of choices of court forum. After all, the hierarchy of courts serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writ.”