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1. Supreme Court: Original Action for a Petition for the Writ of Amparo

2. 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 partial judgment which
is the subject of the present Petition for Review on Certiorari.


On 03 April 2007, Lourdes Rubrico, chair of Ugnayan ng Maralita para sa Gawa Adhikan, was abducted
by armed men belonging to the 301st Air Intelligence and Security Squadron (AISS) based in Lipa City
while attending a Lenten pabasa in Dasmarinas, Cavite. She was brought to and detained at the air base
without charges. She was released a week after relentless interrogation, but only after she signed a
statement that she would be a military asset.

Despite her release, she was tailed on at least 2 occasions. Hence, Lourdes filed a complaint with the
Office of the Ombudsman a criminal complaint for kidnapping and arbitrary detention and grave
misconduct against Cuaresma, Alfaro, Santana, and Jonathan, but nothing has happened. She likewise
reported the threats and harassment incidents to the Dasmarinas municipal and Cavite provincial police
stations , but nothing eventful resulted from their inv estigation.

Meanwhile, the human rights group Karapatan conducted an investigation which indicated that men
belonging to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) led the abduction of Lourdes. Based on such
information, Rubrico filed a petition for the writ of amparo with the Supreme Court on 25 October 2007,
praying that respondents be ordered to desist from performing any threatening act against the security
of petitioners and for the Ombudsman to immediately file an information for kidnapping qualified with
the aggravating circumstance of gender of the offended party. Rubrico also prayed for damages and for
respondents to produce documents submitted to any of them on the case of Lourdes.

The Supreme Court issued the desired writ and then referred the petition to the Court of Appeals (CA)
for summary hearing and appropriate action. At the hearing conducted on 20 Nov ember 2007, the CA
granted petitioner’s motion that the petition and writ be serv ed on Darwin Sy /Rey es, Santana, Alfaro,
Cuaresma, and Jonathan. By a separate resolution, the CA dropped the President as respondent in the

On 31 July 2008, after due proceedings, the CA rendered its partial judgment, dismissing the petition
with respect to Esperon, Razon, Roquero, Gomez, and Ombudsman. Hence, the petitioners filed a
Petition for Review on Certiorari with the Supreme Court.

PERTINENT ISSUE: Whether or not the doctrine of command responsibility is applicable in an amparo



Responsibility has little, if at all, bearing in amparo proceedings – [C]ommand 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. 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.

There is no Philippine law that provides for criminal liability under the Doctrine of Command
Responsibility – While there are sev eral 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 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.

Reluctance of the amparo petitioners 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 – [T]he right
to security of persons is a guarantee of the protection of one’s 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 inv estigation 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 inv estigation 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.

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

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

(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.