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MELISSA ROXAS v. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO (2010) J. Perez PONENTE: Perez, J. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND: 1. 2.

Supreme Court: Petition for the issuance of Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data Court of Appeals: Upon order of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals summarily heard the Original Action for Petition of Amparo. Thereafter, the Court of Appeals issued a judgment which is the subject of the present Petition for Review on Certiorari.

FACTS: Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent, while in the United States, enrolled in an exposure program to the Philippines with the group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-United States of America (BAYAN- USA) of which she is a member. On 19 May 2009, after doing survey work in Tarlac, Roxas and her companions rested in the house of Mr. Jesus Paolo in Sitio Bagong Sikat. While Roxas and her companions were resting, 15 heavily armed men in civilian clothes forcibly entered the house and dragged them inside a van. When they alighted from the van, she was informed that she is being detained for being a member of Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA). She was then separated from her companions and was brought to a room, from where she could hear sounds of gunfire, noise of planes taking off and landing, and some construction bustle. She was interrogated and tortured for 5 straight days to convince her to abandon her communist beliefs. She was informed by a person named RC that those who tortured her came from the Special Operations Group and that she was abducted because her name is included in the Order of Battle. On 25 May 2009, Roxas was finally released and was given a cellular phone with a sim card. She was sternly warned not to report the incident to the group Karapatan or something untoward will happen to her and her family. After her release, Roxas continued to receive calls from RC thru the cell phone given to her. Out of apprehension, she threw the phone and the sim card. Hence, on 01 June 2009, Roxas filed a petition for the issuance of Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data before the Supreme Court, impleading the high-ranking officials of military and Philippine National Police (PNP), on the belief that it was the government agents who were behind her abduction and torture. SC issued the writs and referred the case to the CA for hearing, reception of evidence and appropriate action. CA granted the privilege of writs of amparo and habeas data. However, the court a quo absolved the respondents because it was not convinced that the respondents were responsible for the abduction and torture of Roxas. Aggrieved, Roxas filed an appeal with the SC. ISSUES/HELD: 1) WON the doctrine of command responsibility is applicable in an amparo petition NO DOCTRINE OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY AND THE WRIT OF AMPARO

Command responsibility as justification in impleading respondents is legally inaccurate The use of the
doctrine of command responsibility as justification in impleading the respondents in her amparo petition, is legally inaccurate, if not incorrect. Such doctrine is a rule of substantive law that establishes liability and, by this account, cannot be a proper legal basis to implead a party-respondent in an amparo petition.

The Writ of Amparo as a protective remedy As held in the case of Rubrico v. Arroyo, the writ of amparo is a

protective remedy aimed at providing judicial relief consisting of the appropriate remedial measures and directives that may be crafted by the court, in order to address specific violations or threats of violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty or security. It does not fix liability for such disappearance, killing or threats, whether that may be criminal, civil or administrative under the applicable substantive law. Since the application of command responsibility presupposes an imputation of individual liability, it is more aptly invoked in a full-blown criminal or administrative case rather than in a summary amparo proceeding. However, the inapplicability of the doctrine of command responsibility does not preclude impleading military or police commanders on the ground that the complained acts in the petition were committed with their direct or indirect acquiescence. In which case, commanders may be impleaded not actually on the basis of command responsibilitybut rather on the ground of their responsibility, or at least accountability. 2) WON circumstantial evidence with regard to the identity and affiliation of the perpetrators is enough ground for the issuance of the privilege of the writ of amparo NO EVIDENCE REQUIRED IN AMPARO PROCEEDINGS

In amparo proceedings, direct evidence of identity must be preferred over mere circumstantial evidence In amparo proceedings, the weight that may be accorded to parallel circumstances as evidence of

military involvement depends largely on the availability or non-availability of other pieces of evidence that has the potential of directly proving the identity and affiliation of the perpetrators. Direct evidence of identity, when obtainable, must be preferred over mere circumstantial evidence based on patterns and similarity, because the former indubitably offers greater certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of the perpetrators. 3) WON substantial evidence to prove actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim is necessary before the privilege of the writ may be extended YES EVIDENCE REQURED IN HABEAS DATA PROCEEDINGS

Substantial evidence of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim is an indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be extended An indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be extended is the showing, at least by
substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim.

In the case at bar, Roxas failed to show that there is an actual or threatened violation of such right. Hence, until such time that any of the respondents were found to be actually responsible for the abduction and torture of Roxas, any inference regarding the existence of reports being kept in violation of the petitioners right to privacy becomes farfetched, and premature. The Court must, at least in the meantime, strike down the grant of the privilege of the writ of habeas data.