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ARTHUR BALAO, versus GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, suspiciously parked outside his residence, one of which was a van

with plate number USC 922. He also claimed to have received calls
Before us are consolidated appeals under Section 19 of the and messages through his mobile phone informing him that he was
Rule on the Writ of Amparofrom the January 19, 2009 Judgment[1] of under surveillance by the PNP Regional Office and the AFP-ISU. To
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63, in prove the surveillance, the informer gave the exact dates he visited
Special Proceeding No. 08-AMP-0001, entitled In the Matter of the his family, clothes he wore, and dates and times he goes home or
Petition for Issuance of Writ of Amparo in favor of James Balao, Arthur visits friends and relatives. Attached to the petition were the
Balao, et al. v. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et al. The RTC granted the affidavits[4] of Nonette and Beverly attesting to Jamess reports of
petition for the writ of amparo but denied the prayer for issuance of surveillance to his family and to the CPA.
inspection, production and witness protection orders.
It was further alleged that on September 17, 2008, around
The Antecedents 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,
On October 8, 2008, Arthur Balao, Winston Balao, Nonette La Trinidad, Benguet to do his laundry. The travel time from Fairview,
Balao and Jonilyn Balao-Strugar, siblings of James Balao, and Beverly Baguio City to Pico usually takes only 20 to 45 minutes. Around 8:00
Longid (petitioners), filed with the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet a a.m., Nonette, after discovering that James never reached their
Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Amparo[2] in favor of James parents house at Pico, started contacting their friends and relatives to
Balao who was abducted by unidentified armed men on September ask about Jamess whereabouts. No one, however, had any idea where
17, 2008 in Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet. Named respondents in the he was.
petition were then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive
Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Thus, the Balao family, with the assistance of the CPA and
Jr.,Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno, other NGOs, tried to locate James. Teams were formed to follow
National Security Adviser (NSA) Norberto B. Gonzales, Armed Forces Jamess route from Fairview, Baguio City to Pico, La Trinidad and
of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander B. Yano, people along the way were asked if they happened to see him. These
Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Director General Jesus A. searches, however, yielded negative results. One of the teams also
Verzosa, Philippine Army (PA) Chief Brig. Gen. Reynaldo B. Mapagu, went to the office of the AFP-ISU (PA-ISU) in Navy Base and the office
PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Chief Lt. of the Military Intelligence Group in Camp Allen, both in Baguio City,
P/Dir. Edgardo Doromal, Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) but the personnel in said offices denied any knowledge on Jamess
Commander Maj. Gen. Isagani C. Cachuela, PNP-Cordillera whereabouts. The family likewise went to Baguio Police Station 7 to
Administrative Region Regional Director Police Senior Supt. Eugene report Jamess disappearance. The report was duly entered on the
Gabriel Martin, the Commanding Officer of the AFP Intelligence blotter but there have been no developments as of the filing of the
Service Unit (AFP-ISU) based in Baguio City and several John Does. petition. They also sought the help of the media to announce Jamess
disappearance and wrote several government agencies to inform
James M. Balao is a Psychology and Economics graduate of them of his disappearance and enlist their help in locating him.
the University of the Philippines-Baguio (UP-Baguio). In 1984, he was
among those who founded the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), a Petitioners, moreover, enumerated in their petition several
coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs) working for the incidents of harassments and human rights violations against CPA
cause of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region. As head of CPAs officers, staff and members.
education and research committee, James actively helped in the
training and organization of farmers. He was also the President of Contending that there is no plain, speedy or adequate
Oclupan Clan Association which undertakes the registration and remedy for them to protect Jamess life, liberty and security,
documentation of clan properties to protect their rights over petitioners prayed for the issuance of a writ of amparo ordering the
ancestral lands. In 1988, while working for the CPA, he was arrested respondents to disclose where James is detained or confined, to
on the charge of violation of the Anti-Subversion Law but the case was release James, and to cease and desist from further inflicting harm
eventually dismissed for lack of evidence. upon his person. They likewise prayed for (1) an inspection order for
the inspection of at least 11 military and police facilities which have
The testimonies and statements of eyewitnesses been previously reported as detention centers for activists abducted
established the following circumstances surrounding Jamess by military and police operatives; (2) a production order for all
disappearance: documents that contain evidence relevant to the petition, particularly
the Order of Battle List and any record or dossier respondents have
On September 17, 2008, at around 8:30 in the morning, a on James; and (3) a witness protection order.
man clad in black jacket, black shirt, black visor and gray pants was
standing infront of Saymors[3] Store at Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet. Petitioners simultaneously filed an Urgent Ex-Parte
He had a belt bag and a travelling bag which was placed on a bench. Motion[5] for the immediate issuance of a writ of amparo pursuant
Vicky Bonel was at the time attending to the said store owned by her to Section 6 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.
brother-in-law while Aniceto G. Dawing, Jr. and his co-employee were
delivering bakery products thereat. A white van then arrived and On October 9, 2008, the Writ of Amparo[6] was issued
stopped infront of the store. Five men in civilian clothes who were directing respondents to file their verified return together with their
carrying firearms alighted from the van and immediately approached supporting affidavit within five days from receipt of the writ.
the man poking their guns on him. They grabbed and handcuffed him.
The man was asking why he was being apprehended. One of the Respondents in their Joint Return[7] stated: (1) that
armed men addressed the people witnessing the incident, saying they President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is immune from suit and should
were policemen. Another warned that no one should interfere thus be dropped as party-respondent; (2) that only Arthur Balao
because the man was being arrested for illegal drugs. Thereafter, they should be named petitioner and the rest of the other petitioners
pushed the man inside the van. One of the armed men went back to dropped; (3) that there is no allegation of specific wrongdoing against
the store to get the mans travelling bag. Before leaving the place, one respondents that would show their knowledge, involvement or
of the armed men was also heard telling the driver of the van that participation in the abduction of James; (4) that Exec. Sec. Ermita, Sec.
they are going to proceed to Camp Dangwa (PNP Provincial Teodoro, Sec. Puno, Sec. Gonzales, Gen. Yano, Gen. Cachuela, Gen.
Headquarters in La Trinidad, Benguet). The van headed towards the Mapagu and Gen. Verzosa in their respective affidavits denied having
direction of La Trinidad town proper. The witnesses later identified such participation or knowledge of Jamess abduction, set forth their
the man as James Balao after seeing his photograph which appeared actions taken in investigating the matter and undertaking to continue
in posters announcing him as missing. exerting extraordinary diligence in securing the liberty of James and
bring all those responsible for his disappearance to the bar of justice,
The petition alleged that in May 2008, James reported including military or police personnel when warranted by the findings
surveillances on his person to his family, particularly to his sister of the investigations; (5) that Supt. Martin already ordered an
Nonette Balao (Nonette), and to CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid investigation, came up with interviews of several witnesses, and held
(Beverly). James supposedly observed certain vehicles tailing him and a dialogue with the Commander of the Military Intelligence Group I
(MIG1) and the Commanding Officer of the Internal Service Unit- General Yano narrated that prior to the receipt of a copy of
Internal Security Group, Philippine Army;and (6) that petitioners the petition, he received a memorandum from the Department of
themselves did not cooperate with police authorities in the National Defense transmitting the letter of Bayan Muna
investigation and neither did they ask the National Bureau of Representative Teodoro A. Casio inquiring about the alleged
Investigation to locate James. abduction of James Balao. On the basis of said memo, he directed by
radio message the NOLCOM Commander to conduct a thorough
Respondents contended that the petition failed to meet the investigation on the matter and to submit the result thereof to the
requirement in the Rule on the Writ of Amparo that claims must be AFP General Headquarters. This was also done in compliance with the
established by substantial evidence considering that: (1) petitioners Policy Directive issued by Defense Secretary Teodoro. He reiterated
allegations do not mention in anyway the manner, whether directly his October 6, 2008 directive to the PA Commanding General in
or indirectly, the alleged participation of respondents in the another radio message dated October 16, 2008. He undertook to
purported abduction of James; (2) Nonette and Beverly do not have provide the court with material results of the investigations
personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the abduction conducted by the concerned units as soon as the same are received
of James, hence, their statements are hearsay with no probative by Higher Headquarters.[12]
value; and (3) the allegations in the petition do not show the
materiality and relevance of the places sought to be Lt. Gen. Cachuela said that even prior to the receipt of a
searched/inspected and documents to be produced, specifically the copy of the petition, he was already directed by Higher Headquarters
requirement that the prayer for an inspection order shall be to conduct a thorough investigation on the alleged abduction of
supported by affidavits or testimonies of witnesses having personal James Balao. Acting on said directive, he in turn directed the 5th
knowledge of the whereabouts of the aggrieved party. Infantry Division, PA to investigate the matter since the place of the
commission of the abduction is within its area of responsibility. He
Respondents further argued that it is the PNP as the law undertook to furnish the court with a copy of the result of the
enforcement agency, and not the respondent military and executive investigation conducted or to be conducted, as soon as NOLCOM
officials, which has the duty to investigate cases of missing persons. receives the same.[13]
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 BGen. Mapagu on his part declared that there is nothing in
possible court martial proceedings. Hence, their common denials of the allegations of the petition that would show the involvement of
having any knowledge, participation or authorization for the alleged the PA in the reported disappearance of James Balao. He claimed that
disappearance of James Balao. Nonetheless, respondents executed he immediately called the attention of the concerned staff to give
their affidavits to show the actions they have taken and reports some information regarding the case and directed them to submit a
submitted to them by the proper authorities, as follows: report if they are able to obtain information.[14]

Executive Secretary Ermitastated that upon receipt of copy Pol. Dir. General Verzosa set forth the actions and steps
of the petition for a writ of amparo, he caused the issuance of a letter taken by the PNP, particularly the PNP Regional Office-Cordillera
addressed to the PNP Chief and AFP Chief of Staff for the purpose of (PRO-COR) headed by PCSupt. Eugene Martin, being the lead PNP unit
inquiring and establishing the circumstances surrounding the alleged investigating the case of James Balao.[15]
disappearance of James Balao, and which letters also called for the
submission of pertinent reports on the results of the investigation Pol. Chief Supt. Martin recounted that in the afternoon of
conducted, if any.[8] September 17, 2008, CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid called up and
informed him of the disappearance of James. On September 20, 2008,
Secretary Teodoro declared that soon after the he was informed that James was allegedly missing and immediately
promulgation by this Court of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, he ordered the Office of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) to send
issued Policy Directive on the Actions and Defenses Under the flash alarm to all lower units to look for and locate James Balao. This
Amparo Rule which instructed members of the AFP to undertake was followed by a Memorandum with his picture and description.
specific measures even without waiting for the filing of an amparo Upon his orders, Police Station 1 of the Baguio City Police Office
petition in court whenever any member of the AFP or any of its (BCPO) immediately conducted inquiries at the boarding house of
commands or units have been reported or published as being James at Barangay Fairview, Baguio City. Likewise, he ordered the
involved in the alleged violation of an individuals right to life, liberty creation of Task Force Balao to fast track the investigation of the case.
and security or threat thereof, as a preparatory step in the filing of a He further instructed the RID to exert all efforts and supervise all
verified return as required by A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC. The AFP was lower units to intensify their investigation and ascertain the
therein also directed to immediately coordinate with the PNP, NBI, whereabouts and other circumstances surrounding the
DOJ and other government agencies in the attainment of the desired disappearance of James. Results of the investigations conducted were
actions in the event a petition is filed. Said policy directive was set forth in his affidavit. He had constant coordination with the CPA
contained in his Memorandum dated October 31, 2007 to the Chief leaders and Balao family who divulged the plate numbers of vehicles
of Staff, AFP, and there is no reason for him to doubt that the AFP will allegedly observed by James prior to his disappearance as conducting
comply with it insofar as the present petition for writ of amparo is surveillance on his person. Upon verification with the Land
concerned.[9] Transportation Office, the said vehicles were found to be registered
under the following persons: TNH 787 Narciso Magno of #20 Darasa,
Secretary Puno confirmed receipt of a copy of the petition Tanauan, Batangas; and USC 922 G & S Transport Corp. On October 6,
and said he will write to the PNP Chief to call for pertinent reports 2008, he received information regarding an abduction incident in
relative to the circumstances of the alleged taking of the person in Tomay, La Trinidad whereupon he ordered the Provincial Director of
whose favor the writ of amparo was sought. He undertook to make Benguet to conduct an in-depth investigation; said investigation
available any report he will receive from the PNP on the matter.[10] 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
NSA Gonzales asserted that as a public officer, he is able to convince two witnesses in the abduction incident in Tomay, La
presumed to have performed his duties in accordance with law, which Trinidad, Benguet to shed light on the incident; as a result,
presumption remains undisturbed amid gratuitous assumptions and cartographic sketches of the suspects were made. In the morning of
conclusions in the petition devoid of factual and legal basis. Upon October 9, 2008, he presided over a dialogue which was attended by
receipt of a copy of the petition, he caused to be issued the Group Commander, MIG1 and Commanding Officer of ISU, ISG
letters/communications to the Director General of the National and PA, for the coordinated efforts to locate James. In the afternoon
Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the PNP Chief and the AFP Chief of of the same day, he met with the family and relatives of James to
Staff for the purpose of making active inquiries and establishing the inform them of initial efforts and investigation of the case. The Task
circumstances of the alleged disappearance insofar as the possible Force Balao was also able to secure the affidavits of witnesses Aniceto
involvement of military/police personnel is concerned. He undertook Dawing and Vicky Bonel, and invited some members of the CPA who
to provide the material results of investigations conducted or to be retrieved Jamess personal belongings in Fairview, Baguio City and his
conducted by the concerned agencies.[11] 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, Aniceto Dawing Jr[.] y Gano, the driver of the delivery van of Helens
determine the real motive for the abduction and file the necessary Bread, surfaced and gave his statements on what he witnessed on the
charges in court against those responsible.[16] alleged abduction.

Also attached to the Return are the more detailed reports 5. On October 12, 2008, one Vicky Bonel y Felipe, 19 years
(with attached affidavits of other witnesses) dated October 14, 2008 old, single, native of Atok, Benguet, resident of Tomay, LTB and store
and October 6, 2008 submitted by Task Force Balao Commander P/S keeper of Saymor[s] Store appeared before the office of Benguet PPO
Supt. Fortunato B. Albas to the PNP Cordillera Regional Director. and gave her sworn statement on the alleged abduction. A
Pertinent portions of the two reports read: cartographic sketch was made on the person who identified himself
as policeman. She further stated that it was when while she was
2. Inquiries conducted from Mr. Zusimo Unarosa, a resident tending her brother-in-laws store, gun-wielding men, of about six or
of Nr 126, Purok 3, Central Fairview, Baguio City, claimed that on the more, handcuffed and shove the victim inside their vehicle. She
1st week of September 2008, he frequently observed two (2) recalled that she can recognize the abductors if she can see them
unidentified male persons aged 50-70 years old and about 51 to 55 in again.
height, bringing boxes from the house, the contents of which could
not be determined. However, averred that these two (2) male 6. Another witness stated that she was preparing her
personalities are not familiar in the barangay. He further stated that merchandise in the waiting shed of Lower Tomay when she noticed a
he had never seen a van conducting surveillance on the house and parked motorcycle beside the elementary school at about 7:00 AM of
have not heard of any incident of kidnapping or abduction in the September 17, 2008. The rider of the bike was suspiciously scouring
community. the area and kept on calling someone from his cellular phone before
the abduction was made.
3. Mr[.] Anselmo Alukim, a neighbor, residing adjacent to
the house of the subject, when interviewed, averred that he observed 7. Baguio City Police Office conducted follow-up
some unidentified male and female persons visiting the said house. investigation and were able to secure affidavit of Florence Luken y
Mayames, 47 years old, married, and a resident of 135 Central
4. Interview conducted on Mr[.] Danny Griba, a resident of Fairview averred that James Balao together with a certain Uncle John
said barangay averred that James Balao is not a resident or occupant about 65-75 years old, about 54 in height and a certain Rene about
of the said house and claimed that he only saw the subject last 30-35 years old and stands 55, were her neighbors for almost one
summer and stated there are five (5) unidentified persons occupying year. She further stated that James Balao and company do not mingle
the said house. He further stated that three (3) male persons aged 40 with their neighbors and only one person is usually left behind while
to 50 years old and a female aged between 20-30 years old goes out James and Rene goes out at 6:00 or 7:00 AM and goes back at around
during day time with several boxes and returns at about 6:00 PM to 6:00 or 7:00 PM.
7:00 PM on board a taxi cab again with some boxes of undetermined
contents. She further averred that she did not notice any van or any
kind of vehicle parked along the roadside infront of any residence not
5. Mrs[.] Corazon Addun, resident of Nr 114, Purok 3, his neighbors nor any person or persons observing the occupants of
Central Fairview, Baguio City averred that the subject is not residing the said house. Accordingly, at around 1:00 PM of September 26,
in the said place and saw him only once, sometime on April 2008. She 2008, a closed van (Ca[n]ter) with unknown plate number was seen
further narrated that a certain Uncle John aged 40 to 50 years old and parked infront of the said house and more or less (10) unidentified
a male person aged 20 to 30 are among the occupants of said house. male person[s] aging from 20-23 and an unidentified female entered
Accordingly, on September 21, 2008, Uncle John went to the house of the alleged rented house of James Balao and took some table, chairs
Mrs. Addun and over a cup of coffee told her that he will be going to and cabinets then left immediately to unknown destination.
Sagada, Mountain Province purposely to locate a missing colleague
who was sent there. Accordingly[,] he received a phone call that his 8. Mrs[.] Mina Cabati Serdan the owner of the house being
missing colleague (James Balao) did not reach the municipality and rented by James Balao averred that sometime May of 2007, a certain
reported missing. After that short talk, she never saw Uncle John Mr[.] June, a realtor agent, recommended to her that a certain James
again. Additionally, she did not notice any vehicle conducting Balao will rent the house for one (1) year term with an agreed
surveillance therein and any unusual incidents that transpired in said monthly rent of fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000.00). She stated that
place. James Balao had extended his stay for almost 4 months. On the last
week of August 2008, Mrs[.] Serdan called up James Balao through
7. This office has likewise coordinated with MIG-1 and ISU, phone to inform him that she will terminate his stay at the rented
ISG, PA but both offices denied any knowledge on the alleged house on September 30, 2008. Mrs[.] Serdan further stated that
abduction of James Balao. [she]visited the rented house only twice and that was the only time
she saw James Balao with an unidentified companions.
8. It was found out that it was SPO4 Genero Rosal, residing
within the vicinity, who followed-up the incident because it was That she only discovered that James Balao was missing
reported to him by his neighbors. That after he learned about [James when a certain Carol informed her that he was missing. [Sh]e further
abduction], he contacted PDEA, La Trinidad PS, RID ad Intel BPPO to stated that she visited her house and found out that the said
verify if they had an operation in Tomay, La Trinidad but all of them occupants have already left on September 26, 2008 and discovered
answered negative. that all personal belongings of the occupants have already been taken
out by the relatives.
3. A photocopy of the photograph of James Balao was
presented to the witnesses wherein they confirmed that the picture VI. ACTIONS TAKEN:
is the same person who was arrested and handcuffed. Another
witness divulged that prior to the arrest of the person in the 1. That a composite team TASK FORCE BALAO from this
picture/photograph, a red motorcycle with two (2) male riders office and the Regional Headquarters headed by [P/S SUPT]
allegedly conducted surveillance along the highway about ten (10) FORTUNATO BASCO ALBAS was formed.
meters away from the place where the victim was picked-up. Minutes
later, a white Mitsubishi Adventure arrived and took the victim inside 2. That the composite team of investigators conducted
the car. The motorcycle riding in tandem followed the Mitsubushi ocular inspection on the area.
Adventure en route to Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet. Another
witness overheard one of the abductors instructing the driver to 3. On October 8, 2008, two (2) witnesses namely: Marjore
quote pare sa Camp Dangwa tayo. Domingo Hipolito and Jenny Lynn Malondon Valdez gave their sworn
statements and cartographic sketch of one of the abductors.
4. Follow[-]up investigation resulted in the identification of
a certain KULOT who also witnessed the alleged abduction. However, 4. On the morning of October 9, 2008, a dialogue was
he was hesitant to talk and instead pointed to the driver of the presided by RD, PRO-COR and attended by the Group Commander,
delivery van of Helens Bread. At about 8:30 AM of October 9, 2008,
MIG1 and Commanding Officer of ISU, SG, PA. Both commanders arrived at their ancestral home, she got worried. She texted him but
denied the accusations against them. 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
5. In the afternoon of the same day, a meeting with the James was there. She was told that he was not there so she went to
family and relatives of James Balao was again presided by RD, PRO- Jamess house in Fairview at around 9:00 a.m. Jamess housemates,
COR wherein the results of the initial efforts and investigation were however, told her that he left at 7:00 a.m.
given to the family. He also reported the surfacing of another two (2)
witnesses who described the suspect who handcuffed James Balao. Nonette also testified that they only reported Jamess
disappearance to the police on September 20, 2008 because they
6. PRO-Cordillera wrote a letter to the Cordillera Peoples thought that it was necessary that a person be missing for at least 48
Alliance requesting them to present Uncle John, Rene and his other hours before the disappearance could be reported. They went to Sub-
companions who are then residing in the same boarding house Station Police Precinct No. 1 in Baguio and to the police precinct in La
including all his companions on September 17, 2008 and prior to his Trinidad to report the matter. They also went to Camp Dangwa to see
disappearance. if James was there.

REMARKS: Nonette claimed that she became worried because James


never switched off his mobile phone and since he already texted her
Case is still under follow-up investigation to identify the that he was coming home, he could have texted again if there was a
alleged abductors to determine the real motive of the abduction and change of plans. Also, James had told them since April 2008 that he
to file necessary charges against them in court.[18] had been under surveillance. She does not know why James went to
Tomay, La Trinidad.
During the hearing, the affidavits and testimonies of the
following witnesses were presented by petitioners: Samuel Anongos stated in his affidavit[23] that he is a
member of the Education Commission of the CPA. He claimed that
Aniceto Dawing[19] testified that on September 17, 2008, when they conducted trainings and educational discussions on mining
around 8:00 in the morning, while he was delivering bread at Saymors education in Abra, members of the AFP harassed the community and
Store in Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet, a white van stopped infront of committed various human rights violations. The AFP also allegedly
them and five armed men alighted. The armed men, who introduced held community meetings where they said that the CPA is part of the
themselves as policemen in Filipino, held and pointed a gun at one New Peoples Army. Attached to Anongoss affidavit is a copy of a
male person. The armed men told the male person that he was being paper that the AFP was allegedly distributing. It shows the
apprehended for illegal drugs. They then let the male person board organizational structure of the Communist Party of the Philippines-
the vehicle and informed him that they will proceed to Camp Dangwa. New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) wherein CPA was identified as one of
Dawing admitted that he did not know that it was James whom he the organizations under the National Democratic Front (NDF).[24]
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 RTC Ruling
wear any police badges or identification cards. He just assumed that
they were policemen because of their posture and haircut and On January 19, 2009, the RTC issued the assailed judgment,
because they introduced themselves as such. disposing as follows:

Anvil Lumbag stated in his affidavit[20] that he was also at IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby
Saymors Store in the morning of September 17, 2008 to buy chicken. rendered:
He said that a ToyotaRevo stopped infront of the store from where
four men alighted. The men handcuffed a man who was standing ISSUE a Writ of Amparo Ordering the respondents to (a)
infront of the store and uttered Walang makikialam, drugs kaso nito disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, (b) to release
while pointing a gun at the said man. Then, they forced the man to James Balao considering his unlawful detention since his abduction
board the Revo. Before the Revo fled, Lumbag heard one of the men and (c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his
say that they will be going to Camp Dangwa. Lumbags affidavit, person; and
however, did not mention if it was James who was forcibly taken by
the armed men. DENY the issuance of INSPECTION ORDER, PRODUCTION
ORDER and WITNESS PROTECTION ORDER for failure of herein
Beverly Longid[21] testified that she got to know James Petitioners to comply with the stringent provisions on the Rule on the
when she was a member of the CPA youth organization in her student Writ of Amparo and substantiate the same.[25]
days. Every time James will have an activity that is CPA-related, he
would coordinate with Beverly, she being the CPA chair. She also In denying respondents prayer that President Arroyo be
testified that prior to his disappearance, the last time she talked with dropped as party-respondent, the RTC held that a petition for a writ
James was in July or August of 2008 when he reported surveillances of amparo is not by any stretch of imagination a niggling[,] vexing or
on his person by the PNP and the AFP. In her affidavit, she alleged that annoying court case[26] from which she should be shielded. The RTC
James reported to her several vehicles tailing him, one of which was ruled that said petition is nothing more than a tool to aid the
a green van with plate number USC 922, the same plate number she president to guarantee that laws on human rights are devotedly and
had seen at the Intelligence Security Unit in Navy Base, Baguio City, staunchly carried out. It added that those who complain against
and which was attached to a silver grey van. 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
Beverly admitted that at the time of the alleged abduction, not want to aid Her Excellency in her duty to supervise and control
she was in Baguio City, at the Office of the Cordillera Peoples Legal the machinery of government.[27]
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 In upholding the standing of Jamess siblings and Beverly to
with Pol. Supt. Martin to seek assistance regarding Jamess file the petition, the RTC held that what Section 2 of the Rule on the
disappearance. 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
Nonette Balao[22] testified that she was at her bakeshop amparo for the same party.
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 The RTC further held that more likely than not, the motive
James saying that he will be going home to their ancestral home to do for Jamess disappearance is his activist/political leanings and that
some laundry. Thirty minutes later, she received another text Jamess case is one of an enforced disappearance as defined under the
message from James saying that he was already leaving his place in Rule on the Writ of Amparo. In so ruling, the RTC considered (1) the
Fairview, Baguio City. When around 8:00 a.m. James had not yet several incidents of harassment mentioned in Beverlys testimony and
enumerated in the petition; and (2) the references in the petition to government official or organized groups or private individuals acting
the CPA as a front for the CPP-NPA. with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the
refusal of the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person
The RTC likewise ruled that the government unmistakably concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty
violated Jamess right to security of person. It found the investigation which places such person outside the protection of law.[30]
conducted by respondents as very limited, superficial and one-sided.
The police and military thus miserably failed to conduct an effective Section 18 of the Amparo Rule provides:
investigation of Jamess abduction as revealed by the investigation
report of respondents own witnesses, Supt. Martin and P/S Supt. SEC. 18. Judgment. - The court shall render judgment within
Fortunato Basco Albas, the Commander of Task Force Balao. It further ten (10) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision. If
noted that respondents did not investigate the military officials the allegations in the petition are proven by substantial evidence, the
believed to be behind the abduction as said military officials were court shall grant the privilege of the writ and such reliefs as may be
merely invited to a dialogue and there was no investigation made in proper and appropriate; otherwise, the privilege shall be denied.
Camp Dangwa where the abductors were believed to have taken (Emphasis supplied.)
James as narrated by the witnesses. Moreover, the RTC observed that
despite the undertaking of respondents to investigate the abduction The threshold issue in this case is whether the totality of
and provide results thereof, four months have passed but petitioners evidence satisfies the degree of proof required by the Amparo Rule
have not been furnished reports regarding the investigation. to establish an enforced disappearance.

As to the denial of the interim reliefs, the RTC stated that In granting the privilege of the writ of amparo, the trial
the stringent provisions of the rules were not complied with and court ratiocinated:
granting said reliefs might violate respondents constitutional rights
and jeopardize State security. On record is evidence pointing to the more likely than not
motive for James Balaos disappearance his activist/political leanings.
Both parties appealed to this Court. This is shown by the several incidents relating to harassments of
activists as mentioned in the unrebutted testimony of Beverly Longid
The Consolidated Petitions 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
Petitioners, in G.R. No. 186050, question the RTCs denial of which James Balao was an active staff) as a front organization of the
the interim reliefs. Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army. More likely
than not he was not taken to parts unknown for reasons other than
Respondents, on the other hand, assail in their petition in his involvement in the CPA, that is, politically-motivated. The Court
G.R. No. 186059, the issuance of the writ of amparo. They raise the considers these facts enough circumstances to establish substantial
following arguments: evidence of an enforced disappearance as defined under the Rule on
the Writ of Amparo. For after all, substantial evidence requires
I nothing greater than more likely than not degree of
proof.[31](Emphasis supplied.)
THE TRIAL COURTS JUDGMENT ORDERING RESPONDENT-
PETITIONERS TO: (A) DISCLOSE WHERE JAMES BALAO IS DETAINED The trial court gave considerable weight to the discussion in
AND CONFINED; (B) TO RELEASE JAMES BALAO CONSIDERING HIS the petition of briefing papers supposedly obtained from the AFP
UNLAWFUL DETENTION SINCE HIS ABDUCTION AND (C) TO CEASE (Oplan Bantay-Laya implemented since 2001) indicating that the anti-
AND DESIST FROM FURTHER INFLICTING HARM UPON HIS PERSON IS insurgency campaign of the military under the administration of
BASED PURELY ON CONJECTURES, SURMISES AND HEARSAY President Arroyo included targeting of identified legal organizations
EVIDENCE; HENCE, IT MUST BE SET ASIDE. under the NDF, which included the CPA, and their members, as
enemies of the state. The petition cited other documents confirming
II such all-out war policy which resulted in the prevalence of
extrajudicial killings: namely, the published reports of the Melo
RESPONDENT-PETITIONERS HAD PROVEN THAT THEY Commission and the UNHRCs Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial
OBSERVED EXTRAORDINARY DILIGENCE AS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Mr. Philip Alston. The petition also
LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR enumerated previously documented cases of extralegal killings of
OFFICIAL DUTIES. activists belonging to militant groups, including CPA leaders and
workers, almost all of which have been preceded by surveillance by
III military or police agents and acts of harassment. Consequently,
petitioners postulated that the surveillance on James and his
THE FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE EVIDENCE subsequent abduction are interconnected with the harassments,
PRESENTED IN THE MANALO CASE ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM surveillance, threats and political assassination of other members and
THE CASE AT BAR; HENCE, THE TRIAL COURT GROSSLY ERRED IN officers of CPA which is his organization.
APPLYING THE RULING THEREIN TO THE CASE AT BAR.
We hold that such documented practice of targeting
IV activists in the militarys counter-insurgency program by itself does
not fulfill the evidentiary standard provided in the Amparo Rule to
THE TRIAL COURT CORRECTLY DENIED PETITIONER- establish an enforced disappearance.
RESPONDENTS PRAYER FOR THE ISSUANCE OF AN INSPECTION
ORDER, PRODUCTION ORDER AND A WITNESS PROTECTION In the case of Roxas v. Macapagal-Arroyo,[32] the Court
ORDER.[28] noted that the similarity between the circumstances attending a
particular case of abduction with those surrounding previous
Our Ruling instances of enforced disappearances does not, necessarily, carry
sufficient weight to prove that the government orchestrated such
The Rule on the Writ of Amparo was promulgated on abduction. Accordingly, the trial court in this case cannot simply infer
October 24, 2007 amidst rising incidence of extralegal killings and government involvement in the abduction of James from past similar
enforced disappearances. It was formulated in the exercise of this incidents in which the victims also worked or affiliated with the CPA
Courts expanded rule-making power for the protection and and other left-leaning groups.
enforcement of constitutional rights enshrined in the 1987
Constitution, albeit limited to these two situations. Extralegal killings The petition further premised government complicity in the
refer to killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without abduction of James on the very positions held by the respondents,
legal safeguards or judicial proceedings.[29] On the other hand, stating that --
enforced disappearances are attended by the following
characteristics: an arrest, detention, or abduction of a person by a
The abduction of James Balao can only be attributed to the Subsequently, we have clarified that the inapplicability of
Respondents who have command responsibility of all the actions of the doctrine of command responsibility in an amparo proceeding
their subordinates and who are the primary persons in the does not, by any measure, preclude impleading military or police
implementation of the governments all out war policy.[33] (Emphasis commanders on the ground that the complained acts in the petition
supplied.) were committed with their direct or indirect acquiescence.
Commanders may therefore be impleadednot actually on the basis of
The Court in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo[34] had the command responsibilitybut rather on the ground of their
occasion to expound on the doctrine of command responsibility and responsibility, or at least accountability.[36]
why it has little bearing, if at all, in amparo proceedings.
In Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis,[37]the Court defined responsibility
The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds and accountability as these terms are applied to amparo proceedings,
its context in the development of laws of war and armed combats. as follows:
According to Fr. Bernas, command responsibility, in its simplest
terms, means the responsibility of commanders for crimes committed x x x Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been
by subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons established by substantial evidence to have participated in whatever
subject to their control in international wars or domestic conflict. In way, by action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a
this sense, command responsibility is properly a form of criminal measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the
complicity. The Hague Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the
command responsibility, foreshadowing the present-day precept of responsible parties in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other
holding a superior accountable for the atrocities committed by his hand, refers to the measure of remedies that should be addressed to
subordinates should he be remiss in his duty of control over them. As those who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance
then formulated, command responsibility is an omission mode of without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of
individual criminal liability, whereby the superior is made responsible responsibility defined above; or who are imputed with knowledge
for crimes committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of
punish the perpetrators (as opposed to crimes he ordered). disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the
burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced
The doctrine has recently been codified in the Rome Statute disappearance. x x x[38] (Emphasis supplied.)
of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the Philippines is
signatory. Sec. 28 of the Statute imposes individual responsibility on Assessing the evidence on record, we find that the
military commanders for crimes committed by forces under their participation in any manner of military and police authorities in the
control. The country is, however, not yet formally bound by the terms abduction of James has not been adequately proven. The identities of
and provisions embodied in this treaty-statute, since the Senate has the abductors have not been established, much less their link to any
yet to extend concurrence in its ratification. military or police unit. There is likewise no concrete evidence
indicating that James is being held or detained upon orders of or with
While there are several pending bills on command acquiescence of government agents. Consequently, the trial court
responsibility, there is still no Philippine law that provides for criminal erred in granting amparo reliefs by ordering the respondent officials
liability under that doctrine. (1) to disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, (2) to
release him from such detention or confinement, and (3) to cease and
It may plausibly be contended that command responsibility, desist from further inflicting harm upon his person. Such
as legal basis to hold military/police commanders liable for extra-legal pronouncement of responsibility on the part of public respondents
killings, enforced disappearances, or threats, may be made applicable cannot be made given the insufficiency of evidence.[39] However, we
to this jurisdiction on the theory that the command responsibility agree with the trial court in finding that the actions taken by
doctrine now constitutes a principle of international law or customary respondent officials are very limited, superficial and one-sided. Its
international law in accordance with the incorporation clause of the candid and forthright observations on the efforts exerted by the
Constitution. Still, it would be inappropriate to apply to these respondents are borne by the evidence on record, thus:
proceedings the doctrine of command responsibility, as the CA
seemed to have done, as a form of criminal complicity through x x x the violation of the right to security as protection by
omission, for individual respondents criminal liability, if there be any, the government is unmistakable. The police and the military
is beyond the reach of amparo. In other words, the Court does not miserably failed in conducting an effective investigation of James
rule in such proceedings on any issue of criminal culpability, even if Balaos abduction as revealed by the investigation report of
incidentally a crime or an infraction of an administrative rule may respondents own witnesses Honorable Chief Superintendent Eugene
have been committed. As the Court stressed in Secretary of National Martin and Honorable Senior Superintendent Fortunato Albas. The
Defense v. Manalo (Manalo), the writ of amparo was conceived to investigation was to use the words in The Secretary of National
provide expeditious and effective procedural relief against violations Defense, et. al., v. Manalo et. al. verylimited, superficial and one-
or threats of violation of the basic rights to life, liberty, and security sided.
of persons; the corresponding amparo suit, however, is not an action
to determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt The actions taken were simply these: (a) organization of the
x x x or administrative liability requiring substantial evidence that will Task Force Balao; (b) conduct of ocular inspection at the place of
require full and exhaustive proceedings. Of the same tenor, and by abduction; (c) taking of sworn statements of civilian witnesses, whose
way of expounding on the nature and role of amparo, is what the testimonies did not prove much as shown by the continued
Court said in Razon v. Tagitis: disappearance of James Balao; (d) dialogue with implicated military
officials as well as family members and friends of James Balao; and (e)
It does not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability writing of letter to the CPA. The Court does not want to second-guess
for the disappearance [threats thereof or extrajudicial killings]; it police protocols in investigation but surely some things are amiss
determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced where the investigation DID NOT INVESTIGATE the military officials
disappearance [threats thereof or extrajudicial killings] for purposes believed to be behind the abduction as they were merely invited to a
of imposing the appropriate remedies to address the disappearance dialogue and where the investigation DID NOT LEAD to Camp Dangwa
[or extrajudicial killings]. where the abductors were supposed to have proceeded as narrated
by the witnesses. To the mind of this Court, there is a seeming
As the law now stands, extrajudicial killings and enforced prejudice in the process of investigation to pin suspects who are not
disappearances in this jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately connected with the military establishments. By any measure, this
from the component criminal acts undertaken to carry out these cannot be a thorough and good faith investigation but one that falls
killings and enforced disappearances and are now penalized under short of that required by the Writ of Amparo.[40]
the Revised Penal Code and special laws. The simple reason is that the
Legislature has not spoken on the matter; the determination of what Respondents reiterate that they did their job the best they
acts are criminal x x x are matters of substantive law that only the could and fault the petitioners instead for their non-cooperation
Legislature has the power to enact. x x x[35] 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 Indeed, why zero in on Jamess own kin and colleagues when
disappearance. independent eyewitnesses already provided firsthand accounts of the
incident, as well as descriptions of the abductors? With the
We are not persuaded. cartographic sketches having been made from interviews and
statements of witnesses, the police investigators could have taken
First, the Task Force Balao had acknowledged the fact that proper steps to establish the personal identities of said suspects and
Pol. Chief Supt. Martin was already in constant coordination with the yet this was not done, the police investigators not even lifting a finger
Balao family and CPA, and hence the investigators could have readily to ascertain whether the cartographic sketches would match with any
obtained whatever information they needed from Beverly. Pol. Chief enlisted personnel of AFP and PNP, or their civilian agents/assets. As
Supt. Martin even mentioned in his affidavit that Task Force Balao was to the vehicles, the plate numbers of which have earlier been
able to secure the testimonies of two eyewitnesses with the help of disclosed by James to his family and the CPA as used in conducting
Beverly and the Balao family, and that as a result cartographic surveillance on him prior to his abduction, the military merely denied
sketches were made of some suspects.[41] Moreover, Beverly had having a vehicle with such plate number on their property list despite
explained during the cross-examination conducted by Associate the fact that the same plate number (USC 922) was sighted attached
Solicitor Paderanga that she was at the time coordinating with to a car which was parked at the PA-ISU compound in Navy Base,
national and local agencies even as the police investigation was Baguio City. As to the other plate number given by James (TNH 787),
ongoing.[42] There is nothing wrong with petitioners simultaneous while the police investigators were able to verify the name and
recourse to other legal avenues to gain public attention for a possible address of the registered owner of the vehicle, there is no showing
enforced disappearance case involving their very own colleague. that said owner had been investigated or that efforts had been made
Respondents should even commend such initiative that will to locate the said vehicle. Respondents insistence that the CPA
encourage those who may have any information on the identities and produce the alleged companions of James in his rented residence for
whereabouts of Jamess abductors to help the PNP in its investigation. investigation by the PNP team, while keeping silent as to why the
police investigators had not actively pursued those evidentiary leads
Assuming there was reluctance on the part of the Balao provided by eyewitnessesand the Balao family, only reinforce the trial
family and CPA to submit Jamess relatives or colleagues for courts observation that the investigators are seemingly intent on
questioning by agents of the PNP and AFP, they cannot be faulted for building up a case against other persons so as to deflect any suspicion
such stance owing to the militarys perception of their organization as of military or police involvement in James Balaos disappearance.
a communist front: ergo, enemies of the State who may be targeted
for liquidation. But more important, such non-cooperation provides In view of the foregoing evidentiary gaps, respondents
no excuse for respondents incomplete and one-sided investigations. clearly failed to discharge their burden of extraordinary diligence in
As we held in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo[43]: the investigation of Jamess abduction. Such ineffective investigation
extant in the records of this case prevents us from completely
As regards P/Supt. Romero and P/Insp. Gomez, the Court is exonerating the respondents from allegations of accountability for
more than satisfied that they have no direct or indirect hand in the James disappearance. The reports submitted by the PNP Regional
alleged enforced disappearance of Lourdes and the threats against Office, Task Force Balao and Baguio City Police Station do not contain
her daughters. As police officers, though, theirs was the duty to meaningful results or details on the depth and extent of the
thoroughly investigate the abduction of Lourdes, a duty that would investigation made. In Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis, the Court observed that
include looking into the cause, manner, and like details of the such reports of top police officials indicating the personnel and units
disappearance; identifying witnesses and obtaining statements from they directed to investigate can never constitute exhaustive and
them; and following evidentiary leads, such as the Toyota Revo meaningful investigation, or equal detailed investigative reports of
vehicle with plate number XRR 428, and securing and preserving the activities undertaken to search for the victim.[45] In the same
evidence related to the abduction and the threats that may aid in the case we stressed that the standard of diligence required the duty of
prosecution of the person/s responsible. As we said in Manalo, the public officials and employees to observe extraordinary diligence
right to security, as a guarantee of protection by the government, is called for extraordinary measures expected in the protection of
breached by the superficial and one-sidedhence, constitutional rights and in the consequent handling and investigation
ineffectiveinvestigation by the military or the police of reported cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance cases.
under their jurisdiction. As found by the CA, the local police stations
concerned, including P/Supt. Roquero and P/Insp. Gomez, did As to the matter of dropping President Arroyo as party-
conduct a preliminary fact-finding on petitioners complaint. They respondent, though not raised in the petitions, we hold that the trial
could not, however, make any headway, owing to what was perceived court clearly erred in holding that presidential immunity cannot be
to be the refusal of Lourdes, her family, and her witnesses to properly invoked in an amparo proceeding. As president, then
cooperate. Petitioners counsel, Atty. Rex J.M.A. Fernandez, provided President Arroyo was enjoying immunity from suit when the petition
a plausible explanation for his clients and their witnesses attitude, for a writ of amparo was filed. Moreover, the petition is bereft of any
[They] do not trust the government agencies to protect them.The allegation as to what specific presidential act or omission violated or
difficulty arising from a situation where the party whose complicity in threatened to violate petitioners protected rights.[46]
extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, as the case may be, is
alleged to be the same party who investigates it is understandable, In order to effectively address thru the amparo remedy the
though. violations of the constitutional rights to liberty and security of James
who remains missing to date, the Court deems it appropriate to refer
The seeming reluctance on the part of the Rubricos or their this case back to the trial court for further investigation by the PNP
witnesses to cooperate ought not to pose a hindrance to the police in and CIDG and monitoring of their investigative activities that complies
pursuing, on its own initiative, the investigation in question to its with the standard of diligence required by the Amparo Rule. Section
natural end. To repeat what the Court said in Manalo, the right to 24 of Republic Act No. 6975, otherwise known as the PNP Law[47]
security of persons is a guarantee of the protection of ones right by specifies the PNP as the governmental office with the mandate to
the government. And this protection includes conducting effective [i]nvestigate and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal
investigations of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, or offenders, bring offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution.
threats of the same kind. The nature and importance of an The trial court should further validate the results of such
investigation are captured in the Velasquez Rodriguez case, in which investigations and actions through hearings it may deem necessary to
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights pronounced: conduct.

[The duty to investigate] must be undertaken in a serious Lastly, on the denial of the prayer for interim reliefs under
manner and not as a mere formality preordained to be ineffective. An the Amparo Rule.
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 An inspection order is an interim relief designed to give
upon the initiative of the victim or his family or upon offer of proof, support or strengthen the claim of a petitioner in an amparo petition,
without an effective search for the truth by the government.[44] in order to aid the court before making a decision.[48] A basic
(Emphasis supplied.) requirement before an amparo 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 These directives and those of the trial court made pursuant
issuance of inspection order was properly denied since the petitioners to this Decision shall be given to, and shall be directly enforceable
specified several military and police establishments based merely on against, whoever may be the incumbent Armed Forces of the
the allegation that the testimonies of victims and witnesses in Philippines Chief of Staff, Director General of the Philippine National
previous incidents of similar abductions involving activists disclosed Police and Chief of the Philippine National Police Criminal
that those premises were used as detention centers. In the same vein, Investigation and Detection Group and other concerned units, under
the prayer for issuance of a production order was predicated on pain of contempt from this Court when the initiatives and efforts at
petitioners bare allegation that it obtained confidential information disclosure and investigation constitute less than the EXTRAORDINARY
from an unidentified military source, that the name of James was DILIGENCE that the Amparo Rule and the circumstances of the case
included in the so-called Order of Battle. Indeed, the trial court could demand; and
not have sanctioned any fishing expedition by precipitate issuance of
inspection and production orders on the basis of insufficient claims of 4) DROPPING former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as
one party. party-respondent in the petition for writ of amparo;

Nonetheless, the trial court is not precluded, as further This case is hereby REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court
evidence warrants, to grant the above interim reliefs to aid it in of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63 for continuation of proceedings in
making a decision upon evaluation of the actions taken by the Special Proceeding No. 08-AMP-0001 for the purposes of monitoring
respondents under the norm of extraordinary diligence. compliance with the above directives and determining whether, in
the light of any recent reports or recommendations, there would
WHEREFORE, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 186050 and 186059 already be sufficient evidence to hold any of the public respondents
are PARTLY GRANTED. The Judgment dated January 19, 2009 of the responsible, or, at least, accountable. After making such
Regional Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 63, in Special determination, the trial court shall submit its own report and
Proceeding No. 08-AMP-0001 is MODIFIED as follows: recommendation to this Court for final action. The trial court will
continue to have jurisdiction over this case in order to accomplish its
1) REVERSING the grant of the privilege of the writ of tasks under this decision;
amparo;
Accordingly, the public respondents shall remain personally
2) AFFIRMING the denial of the prayer for inspection and impleaded in this petition to answer for any responsibilities and/or
production orders, without prejudice to the subsequent grant accountabilities they may have incurred during their incumbencies.
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 LAGMAN, vs. HON. SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA
Forces of the Philippines;
Effective May 23, 2017, and for a period not exceeding 60
3) ORDERING the incumbent Chief of Staff of the Armed days, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216
Forces of the Philippines, or his successor, and the incumbent Director declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the
General of the Philippine National Police, or his successor, to writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao.
CONTINUE the investigations and actions already commenced by the
Philippine National Police Regional OfficeCordillera, Baguio City The full text of Proclamation No. 216 reads as follows:
Police, Northern Luzon Command, Philippine National
Police/Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection WHEREAS, Proclamation No. 55, series of 2016, was issued
Group, Philippine Army-Intelligence Service Unit and other concerned on 04 September 2016 declaring a state of national emergency on
units, and specifically take and continue to take the necessary steps: account of lawless violence in Mindanao;

(a) to identify the persons described in the cartographic WHEREAS, Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution
sketches submitted by Task Force Balao; provides that 'x x x In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public
safety requires it, he (the President) may, for a period not exceeding
(b) to locate and search the vehicles bearing the plate sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place
numbers submitted by the petitioners and which James Balao had the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law x x x';
reported to be conducting surveillance on his person prior to his
abduction on September 17, 2008, and investigate the registered WHEREAS, Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code, as
owners or whoever the previous and present possessors/transferees amended by R.A. No. 6968, provides that 'the crime of rebellion or
thereof; and to pursue any other leads relevant to the abduction of insurrection is committed by rising and taking arms against the
James Balao; Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said
Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines
The incumbent Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces,
Staff, Philippine National Police Director General, or their successors, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially,
shall ensure that the investigations and actions of their respective of any of their powers or prerogatives';
units on the abduction of James Balao are pursued with extraordinary
diligence as required by Sec. 17 of the Amparo Rule. WHEREAS, part of the reasons for the issuance of
Proclamation No. 55 was the series of violent acts committed by the
For purposes of these investigations, the Philippine Maute terrorist group such as the attack on the military outpost in
National Police/Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Butig, Lanao del Sur in February 2016, killing and wounding several
Detection Group shall periodically report the detailed results of its soldiers, and the mass jailbreak in Marawi City in August 2016, freeing
investigation to the trial court for its consideration and action. On their arrested comrades and other detainees;
behalf of this Court, the trial court shall pass upon the sufficiency of
their investigative efforts. The Philippine National Police and the WHEREAS, today 23 May 2017, the same Maute terrorist
Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group group has taken over a hospital in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur,
shall have six (6) months from notice hereof to undertake their established several checkpoints within the City, burned down certain
investigations. Within fifteen (15) days after completion of the government and private facilities and inflicted casualties on the part
investigations, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the of Government forces, and started flying the flag of the Islamic State
Philippines and the DirectorGeneral of the Philippine National Police of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in several areas, thereby openly attempting to
shall submit a full report of the results of the said investigations to the remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of
trial court. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the trial court shall Mindanao and deprive the Chief Executive of his powers and
submit its full reportto this Court. prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public
order and safety in Mindanao, constituting the crime of rebellion; and
WHEREAS, this recent attack shows the capability of the capability to deprive the duly constituted authorities - the President,
Maute group and other rebel groups to sow terror, and cause death foremost - of their powers and prerogatives.
and damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but also in other
parts of Mindanao. In particular, the President chronicled in his Report the
events which took place on May 23, 2017 in Marawi City which
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE, President of impelled him to declare a state of martial law and suspend the
the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me privilege of writ of habeas corpus, to wit:
by the Constitution and by law, do hereby proclaim as follows:
• At 1400H members of the Maute Group and ASG, along
with their sympathizers, commenced their attack on various facilities
SECTION 1. There is hereby declared a state of martial law - government and privately owned - in the City of Marawi.
in the Mindanao group of islands for a period not exceeding sixty
days, effective as of the date hereof.
• At 1600H around fifty (50) armed criminals assaulted
SECTION 2. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall Marawi City Jail being manage by the Bureau of Jail Management and
likewise be suspended in the aforesaid area for the duration of the Penology (BJMP).
state of martial law.
• The Maute Group forcibly entered the jail facilities,
DONE in the Russian Federation, this 23rd day of May in the destroyed its main gate, and assaulted on-duty personnel. BJMP
year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Seventeen. personnel were disarmed, tied, and/or locked inside the cells.

Within the timeline set by Section 18, Article VII of the • The group took cellphones, personnel-issued firearms, and
Constitution, the President submitted to Congress on May 25, 2017, vehicles (i.e., two [2] prisoner vans and private vehicles).
a written Report on the factual basis of Proclamation No. 216.
• By 1630H, the supply of power into Marawi City had been
interrupted, and sporadic gunfights were heard and felt everywhere.
The Report pointed out that for decades, Mindanao has
By evening, the power outage had spread citywide. (As of 24 May
been plagued with rebellion and lawless violence which only 2017, Marawi City's electric supply was still cut off, plunging the city
escalated and worsened with the passing of time. into total black-out.)

Mindanao has been the hotbed of violent extremism and a • From 1800H to 1900H, the same members of the Maute
brewing rebellion for decades. In more recent years, we have Group ambushed and burned the Marawi Police Station. A patrol car
witnessed the perpetration of numerous acts of violence challenging of the Police Station was also taken.
the authority of the duly constituted authorities, i.e., the Zamboanga
siege, the Davao bombing, the Mamasapano carnage, and the • A member of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit was
bombings in Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Basilan, among killed during the takeover of the Marawi City Jail. The Maute Group
others. Two armed groups have figured prominently in all these, facilitated the escape of at least sixty-eight (68) inmates of the City
namely, the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) and the ISIS-backed Maute Jail.
Group.1
• The BJMP directed its personnel at the Marawi City Jail
The President went on to explain that on May 23, 2017, a and other affected areas to evacuate.
government operation to capture the high-ranking officers of the Abu
• By evening of 23 May 2017, at least three (3) bridges in
Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Maute Group was conducted. These
Lanao del Sur, namely, Lilod, Bangulo, and Sauiaran, fell under the
groups, which have been unleashing havoc in Mindanao, however, control of these groups. They threatened to bomb the bridges to pre-
confronted the government operation by intensifying their efforts at empt military reinforcement.
sowing violence aimed not only against the government authorities
and its facilities but likewise against civilians and their properties. As
narrated in the President's Report: • As of 2222H, persons connected with the Maute Group had
occupied several areas in Marawi City, including Naga Street, Bangolo
On 23 May 2017, a government operation to capture Isnilon Street, Mapandi, and Camp Keithly, as well as the following
Hapilon, a senior leader of the ASG, and Maute Group operational barangays: Basak Malutlot, Mapandi, Saduc, Lilod Maday, Bangon,
leaders, Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute, was confronted with Saber, Bubong, Marantao, Caloocan, Banggolo, Barionaga, and
armed resistance which escalated into open hostility against the Abubakar.
government. Through these groups' armed siege and acts of violence
directed towards civilians and government authorities, institutions • These lawless armed groups had likewise set up road
and establishments, they were able to take control of major social, blockades and checkpoints at the Iligan City-Marawi City junction.
economic, and political foundations of Marawi City which led to its
paralysis. This sudden taking of control was intended to lay the • Later in the evening, the Maute Group burned Dansalan
groundwork for the eventual establishment of a DAESH wilayat or College Foundation, Cathedral of Maria Auxiliadora, the nun's
province in Mindanao. quarters in the church, and the Shia Masjid Moncado Colony. Hostages
were taken from the church.
Based on verified intelligence reports, the Maute Group, as of the
• About five (5) faculty members of Dansalan College
end of 2016, consisted of around two hundred sixty-three (263) Foundation had been reportedly killed by the lawless groups.
members, fully armed and prepared to wage combat in furtherance
of its aims. The group chiefly operates in the province of Lanao del • Other educational institutions were also burned, namely,
Sur,but has extensive networks and linkages with foreign and local Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation and the Marawi Central
Elementary Pilot School.
armed groups such as the Jemaah Islamiyah, Mujahidin Indonesia
Timur and the ASG. It adheres to the ideals being espoused by the • The Maute Group also attacked Amai Pakpak Hospital and
DAESH, as evidenced by, among others, its publication of a video hoisted the DAESH flag there, among other several locations. As of
footage declaring its allegiance to the DAESH. Reports abound that 0600H of 24May 2017, members of the Maute Group were seen
guarding the entry gates of Amai Pakpak Hospital. They held hostage
foreign-based terrorist groups, the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and
the employees of the Hospital and took over the PhilHealth office
Syria) in particular, as well as illegal drug money, provide financial located thereat.
and logistical support to the Maute Group.

The events commencing on 23 May 2017 put on public display the • The groups likewise laid siege to another hospital, Filipino-
groups' clear intention to establish an Islamic State and their Libyan Friendship Hospital, which they later set ablaze.