Advocacy groups ask SC to review rules, rulings to assure human rights protection

Published May 18, 2021, 4:25 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) was asked on Tuesday, May 18, by several advocacy groups to come up with measures that would protect their members and other advocates from red-tagging, terrorist designation, and other abuses.

Their plea was contained in a letter sent to Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo. The groups were led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

The groups claimed that the government’s counter-insurgency campaign is the primary moving force in the commission of gross human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings and terrorist designations.

They enclosed in their letter case summaries of alleged human rights violations under the administration of President Duterte like the designation by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) of 29 persons as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and affiliated with local terrorist groups.

Specifically, the groups asked the SC to review existing rules on the Writ of Amparo, the Writ of Habeas Data, the Writ of Habeas Corpus, and other pre-detention and pre-trial remedies to determine whether these measures are still efficient and sufficient in safeguarding fundamental rights.

They suggested that the review should concentrate on how the courts appreciate and rule in cases of Amparo and Habeas Data, particularly the burden of proof by petitioners in such cases and the standard of diligence exerted by respondents.

At the same time, the group sought the mandatory issuance of a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) simultaneously with the issuance of the Writ of Amparo for persons subjected to red-tagging.

They suggested that the SC should revisit and eventually abandon its decision which declares moot and academic the plea for Writ of Habeas Corpus when criminal charges have been filed in courts.

Their other pleas are on the promulgation of rules that will ensure the proper and timely receipt of subpoenas and criminal complaints by respondents; establishment of a central repository of criminal charges by which the people can be informed of cases filed against them; the promulgation of uniform rules for pre-trial remedies that uphold the accused’s constitutional right to due process; requirement of the active presence of independent witnesses during implementation of search warrant to ensure strict compliance with constitutional requirements and due regard for constitutional rights; inventory and investigation of serially issued search warrants by alleged search warrant factories; and issuance of new rules that are more responsive in providing urgent and practical reliefs for victims of human rights violations.