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G.R. No. 182484. June 17, 2008.

* facie existence of the ultimate facts that would justify the issuance of a writ of amparo.
DANIEL MASANGKAY TAPUZ, AURORA TAPUZ-MADRIAGA, LIBERTY M. Rather than acts of terrorism that pose a continuing threat to the persons of the petitioners,
ASUNCION, LADYLYN BAMOS MADRIAGA, EVERLY TAPUZ MADRIAGA, EXCEL the violent incidents alleged appear to us to be purely property-relatedand focused on the
TAPUZ, IVAN TAPUZ AND MARIAN TIMBAS, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE JUDGE disputed land. Thus, if the petitioners wish to seek redress and hold the alleged
ELMO DEL ROSARIO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of RTC Br. 5 Kalibo, SHERIFF perpetrators criminally accountable, the remedy may lie more in the realm of ordinary
NELSON DELA CRUZ, in his capacity as Sheriff of the RTC, THE PHILIPPINE criminal prosecution rather than on the use of the extraordinary remedy of the writ of
NATIONAL POLICE stationed in Boracay Island, represented by the PNP STATION amparo.
COMMANDER, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IN CEBU 18TH DIVISION,
SPOUSES GREGORIO SANSON & MA. LOURDES T. SANSON, respondents. Same; The writ of amparo, particularly, should not issue when applied for as
substitute for the appeal or certiorari process, or when it will inordinately interfere with these
Forum Shopping; Forum shopping trifles with the courts, abuses their processes, processes—the situation obtaining in the present case.—Separately from these
degrades the administration of justice and congest court dockets. Willful and deliberate considerations, we cannot fail but consider too at this point the indicators, clear and patent
violation of the rule against it is a ground for summary dismissal of the case, it may also to us, that the petitioners’ present recourse via the remedy of the writ of amparo is a mere
constitute direct contempt.—To restate the prevailing rules, “forum shopping is the subterfuge to negate the assailed orders that the petitioners sought and failed to nullify
institution of two or more actions or proceedings involving the same parties for the same before the appellate court because of the use of an improper remedial measure. We discern
cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, on the supposition that one or the this from the petitioners’ misrepresentations pointed out above; from their obvious act of
other court would make a favorable disposition. Forum shopping may be resorted to by any forum shopping; and from the recourse itself to the extraordinary remedies of the writs of
party against whom an adverse judgment or order has been issued in one forum, in an certiorari and amparo based on grounds that are far from forthright and sufficiently
attempt to seek a favorable opinion in another, other than by appeal or a special civil action compelling. To be sure, when recourses in the ordinary course of law fail because of deficient
for certiorari. Forum shopping trifles with the courts, abuses their processes, degrades the legal representation or the use of improper remedial measures, neither the writ of certiorari
administration of justice and congest court dockets. Willful and deliberate violation of the nor that of amparo—extraordinary though they may be—will suffice to serve as a curative
rule against it is a ground for summary dismissal of the case; it may also constitute direct substitute. The writ of amparo, particularly, should not issue when applied for as a
contempt.” Additionally, the required verification and certification of non-forum shopping is substitute for the appeal or certiorari process, or when it will inordinately interfere with
defective as one (1) of the seven (7) petitioners—Ivan Tapuz—did not sign, in violation of these processes—the situation obtaining in the present case. While we say all these, we note
Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 7; Section 3, Rule 46; Section 1, Rule 65; all in relation with Rule 56 too that the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides for rules on the institution of separate
of the Revised Rules of Court. Of those who signed, only five (5) exhibited their postal actions, for the effect of earlier-filed criminal actions, and for the consolidation of petitions
identification cards with the Notary Public. for the issuance of a writ of amparo with a subsequently filed criminal and civil action.
These rules were adopted to promote an orderly procedure for dealing with petitions for the
Writ of Amparo; The Writ of Amparo, Explained.—To start off with the basics, the issuance of the writ of amparo when the parties resort to other parallel recourses.
writ of amparo was originally conceived as a response to the extraordinary rise in the
number of killings and enforced disappearances, and to the perceived lack of available and Writ of Habeas Data; Section 6 of the Rule of the Writ of Habeas Data requires the
effective remedies to address these extraordinary concerns. It is intended to address following material allegations of ultimate facts in a petition for the issuance of a writ of
violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or security, as an extraordinary and habeas data.—Section 6 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data requires the following
independent remedy beyond those available under the prevailing Rules, or as a remedy material allegations of ultimate facts in a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data:
supplemental to these Rules. What it is not, is a writ to protect concerns that are “(a) The personal circumstances of the petitioner and the respondent; (b) The manner the
purely property or commercial. Neither is it a writ that we shall issue on right to privacy is violated or threatened and how it affects the right to life, liberty
amorphous and uncertain grounds. Consequently, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo—in or security of the aggrieved party; (c) The actions and recourses taken by the
line with the extraordinary character of the writ and the reasonable certainty that its petitioner to secure the data or information; (d) The location of the files, registers
issuance demands—requires that every petition for the issuance of the writ must be or databases, the government office, and the person in charge, in possession or in
supported by justifying allegations of fact. control of the data or information, if known; (e) The reliefs prayed for, which may
include the updating, rectification, suppression or destruction of the database or information
Same; The writ shall issue if the Court is preliminary satisfied with the prima facie or files kept by the respondent. In case of threats, the relief may include a prayer for an order
existence of the ultimate facts determinable from the supporting affidavits that detail the enjoining the act complained of; and (f) Such other relevant reliefs as are just and
circumstances of how and to what extent a threat to or violation of the rights to life, liberty equitable.”
and security of the aggrieved party was or is being committed.—The writ shall issue if the
Court is preliminarily satisfied with the prima facie existence of the ultimate facts Same; Allegations obviously lack what the Rule on Writ of Habeas Data requires as a
determinable from the supporting affidavits that detail the circumstances of how and to minimum, thus rendering the petition fatally deficient.—These allegations obviously lack
what extent a threat to or violation of the rights to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved what the Rule on Writ of Habeas Data requires as a minimum, thus rendering the petition
party was or is being committed. The issuance of the writ of amparo in the present case is fatally deficient. Specifically, we see no concrete allegations of unjustified or unlawful
anchored on the factual allegations heretofore quoted, that are essentially repeated in violation of the right to privacy related to the right to life, liberty or security. The petition
paragraph 54 of the petition. likewise has not alleged, much less demonstrated, any need for information under the
control of police authorities other than those it has already set forth as integral annexes.
Same; If the petitioners wish to seek redress and hold the alleged perpetrators The necessity or justification for the issuance of the writ, based on the insufficiency of
criminally accountable, the remedy may lie more in the realm of ordinary criminal previous efforts made to secure information, has not also been shown. In sum, the prayer for
prosecution rather than on the use of the extraordinary remedy of the writ of amparo.— the issuance of a writ of habeasdata is nothing more than the “fishing expedition” that this
Under these legal and factual situations, we are far from satisfied with the prima Court—in the course of drafting the Rule on habeas data—had in mind in defining what the
purpose of a writ of habeas data is not. In these lights, the outright denial of the petition for after they acquired the land in question on May 27, 1993 through a Deed of Sale (Annex 'A', Affidavit
the issuance of the writ of habeas data is fully in order. of Gregorio Sanson, p. 276, rec.), they caused the construction of the perimeter fence sometime in
1993 (Affidavit of Gregorio Sanson, pp. 271-275, rec.).
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.
The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.
Nelson A. Loyola pro bono counsel for petitioners. From the foregoing established facts, it could be safely inferred that the plaintiffs were in actual
Stephen C. Arceño for respondents. physical possession of the whole lot in question since 1993 when it was interrupted by the defendants
(sic) when on January 4, 2005 claiming to (sic) the Heirs of Antonio Tapuz entered a portion of the
land in question with view of inhabiting the same and building structures therein prompting
RESOLUTION
plaintiff Gregorio Sanson to confront them before BSPU, Police Chief Inspector Jack L. Wanky and
Barangay Captain Glenn Sacapaño. As a result of their confrontation, the parties signed an
BRION, J.: Agreement (Annex 'D', Complaint p. 20) wherein they agreed to vacate the disputed portion of the
land in question and agreed not to build any structures thereon.
Before us for the determination of sufficiency of form and substance (pursuant to Sections 1
and 4 of Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court; Sections 1 and 5 of the Rule on the Writ of The foregoing is the prevailing situation of the parties after the incident of January 4, 2005 when the
Amparo;1 and Sections 1 and 6 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data2) is the petition for plaintiff posted security guards, however, sometime on or about 6:30 A.M. of April 19, 2006, the
certiorari and for the issuance of the writs of amparo and habeas data filed by the above- defendants some with bolos and one carrying a sack suspected to contain firearms with other John
Does numbering about 120 persons by force and intimidation forcibly entered the premises along the
named petitioners against the Honorable Judge Elmo del Rosario [in his capacity as
road and built a nipa and bamboo structure (Annex 'E', Complaint, p. 11) inside the lot in question
presiding judge of RTC Br. 5, Kalibo], Sheriff Nelson de la Cruz [in his capacity as Sheriff of which incident was promptly reported to the proper authorities as shown by plaintiffs' Certification
the RTC], the Philippine National Police stationed in Boracay Island, represented by the (Annex 'F', Complaint, p. 12) of the entry in the police blotter and on same date April 19, 2006, the
PNP Station Commander, the Honorable Court of Appeals in Cebu, 18th Division, and the plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Office of the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay Balabag,
spouses Gregorio Sanson and Ma. Lourdes T. Sanson, respondents. Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan but no settlement was reached as shown in their Certificate to File
Action (Annex 'G', Complaint, p. 13); hence the present action.

The petition and its annexes disclose the following material antecedents:
Defendants' (sic) contend in their answer that 'prior to January 4, 2005, they were already occupants
of the property, being indigenous settlers of the same, under claim of ownership by open continuous,
The private respondents spouses Gregorio Sanson and Ma. Lourdes T. Sanson (the "private adverse possession to the exclusion of other (sic)'. (Paragraph 4, Answer, p. 25).
respondents"), filed with the Fifth Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Buruanga-Malay, Aklan
(the "MCTC") a complaint3 dated 24 April 2006 for forcible entry and damages with a The contention is untenable. As adverted earlier, the land in question is enclosed by a perimeter
prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the petitioners fence constructed by the plaintiffs sometime in 1993 as noted by the Commissioner in his Report and
Daniel Masangkay Tapuz, Aurora Tapuz-Madriaga, Liberty M. Asuncion, Ladylyn Bamos reflected in his Sketch, thus, it is safe to conclude that the plaintiffs where (sic) in actual physical
Madriaga, Everly Tapuz Madriaga, Excel Tapuz, Ivan Tapuz and Marian Timbas (the possession of the land in question from 1993 up to April 19, 2006 when they were ousted therefrom
"petitioners") and other John Does numbering about 120. The private respondents alleged in by the defendants by means of force. Applying by analogy the ruling of the Honorable Supreme Court
their complaint that: (1) they are the registered owners under TCT No. 35813 of a 1.0093- in the case of Molina, et al. vs. De Bacud, 19 SCRA 956, if the land were in the possession of
plaintiffs from 1993 to April 19, 2006, defendants' claims to an older possession must be rejected as
hectare parcel of land located at Sitio Pinaungon, Balabag, Boracay, Malay, Aklan (the
untenable because possession as a fact cannot be recognized at the same time in two different
"disputed land"); (2) they were the disputed land's prior possessors when the petitioners - personalities.
armed with bolos and carrying suspected firearms and together with unidentified persons
numbering 120 - entered the disputed land by force and intimidation, without the private
respondents' permission and against the objections of the private respondents' security men, Defendants likewise contend that it was the plaintiffs who forcibly entered the land in question on
April 18, 2006 at about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon as shown in their Certification (Annex 'D',
and built thereon a nipa and bamboo structure.
Defendants' Position Paper, p. 135, rec.).

In their Answer4 dated 14 May 2006, the petitioners denied the material allegations of the The contention is untenable for being inconsistent with their allegations made to the commissioner
complaint. They essentially claimed that: (1) they are the actual and prior possessors of the who constituted (sic) the land in question that they built structures on the land in question only on
disputed land; (2) on the contrary, the private respondents are the intruders; and (3) the April 19, 2006 (Par. D.4, Commissioner's Amended Report, pp. 246 to 247), after there (sic) entry
private respondents' certificate of title to the disputed property is spurious. They asked for thereto on even date.
the dismissal of the complaint and interposed a counterclaim for damages.
Likewise, said contention is contradicted by the categorical statements of defendants' witnesses,
The MCTC, after due proceedings, rendered on 2 January 2007 a decision5 in the private Rowena Onag, Apolsida Umambong, Ariel Gac, Darwin Alvarez and Edgardo Pinaranda, in their
Joint Affidavit (pp. 143- '144, rec.) [sic] categorically stated 'that on or about April 19, 2006, a group
respondents' favor. It found prior possession - the key issue in forcible entry cases - in the
of armed men entered the property of our said neighbors and built plastic roofed tents. These armed
private respondents' favor, thus: men threatened to drive our said neighbors away from their homes but they refused to leave and
resisted the intruding armed men'.
"The key that could unravel the answer to this question lies in the Amended Commissioner's Report
and Sketch found on pages 245 to 248 of the records and the evidence the parties have submitted. It From the foregoing, it could be safely inferred that no incident of forcible entry happened on April 18,
is shown in the Amended Commissioner's Report and Sketch that the land in question is enclosed by 2006 but it was only on April 19, 2006 when the defendants overpowered by their numbers the
a concrete and cyclone wire perimeter fence in pink and green highlighter as shown in the Sketch security guards posted by the plaintiffs prior to the controversy.
Plan (p. 248). Said perimeter fence was constructed by the plaintiffs 14 years ago. The foregoing
findings of the Commissioner in his report and sketch collaborated the claim of the plaintiffs that
Likewise, defendants (sic) alleged burnt and other structures depicted in their pictures attached as 30. These armed men [without uniforms] removed the barbed wire fence put up by defendants to
annexes to their position paper were not noted and reflected in the amended report and sketch protect their property from intruders. Two of the armed men trained their shotguns at the
submitted by the Commissioner, hence, it could be safely inferred that these structures are built and defendants who resisted their intrusion. One of them who was identified as SAMUEL LONGNO y
(sic) situated outside the premises of the land in question, accordingly, they are irrelevant to the GEGANSO, 19 years old, single, and a resident of Binun-an, Batad, Iloilo, fired twice.
instant case and cannot be considered as evidence of their actual possession of the land in question
prior to April 19, 20066."
31. The armed men torched two houses of the defendants reducing them to ashes. [...]

The petitioners appealed the MCTC decision to the Regional Trial Court ("RTC," Branch 6
32. These acts of TERRORISM and (heinous crime) of ARSON were reported by one of the
of Kalibo, Aklan) then presided over by Judge Niovady M. Marin ("Judge Marin"). HEIRS OF ANTONIO TAPUZ [...]. The terrorists trained their shotguns and fired at
minors namely IVAN GAJISAN and MICHAEL MAGBANUA, who resisted their intrusion.
On appeal, Judge Marin granted the private respondents' motion for the issuance of a writ Their act is a blatant violation of the law penalizing Acts of Violence against women and
children, which is aggravated by the use of high-powered weapons.
of preliminary mandatory injunction through an Order dated 26 February 2007, with the
issuance conditioned on the private respondents' posting of a bond. The writ 7 - authorizing
the immediate implementation of the MCTC decision - was actually issued by respondent […]
Judge Elmo F. del Rosario (the "respondent Judge") on 12 March 2007 after the private
respondents had complied with the imposed condition. The petitioners moved to reconsider 34. That the threats to the life and security of the poor indigent and unlettered petitioners continue
the issuance of the writ; the private respondents, on the other hand, filed a motion for because the private respondents Sansons have under their employ armed men and they are
demolition. influential with the police authorities owing to their financial and political clout.

The respondent Judge subsequently denied the petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration and 35. The actual prior occupancy, as well as the ownership of the lot in dispute by defendants and the
to Defer Enforcement of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction in an Order dated 17 May 20078. atrocities of the terrorists [introduced into the property in dispute by the plaintiffs] are attested by
witnesses who are persons not related to the defendants are therefore disinterested witnesses in the
case namely: Rowena Onag, Apolsida Umambong, Ariel Gac, Darwin Alvarez and Edgardo Penarada.
Meanwhile, the petitioners opposed the motion for demolition. 9 The respondent Judge Likewise, the affidavit of Nemia T. Carmen is submitted to prove that the plaintiffs resorted to
nevertheless issued via a Special Order10 a writ of demolition to be implemented fifteen (15) atrocious acts through hired men in their bid to unjustly evict the defendants.13"
days after the Sheriff's written notice to the petitioners to voluntarily demolish their house/s
to allow the private respondents to effectively take actual possession of the land. The petitioners posit as well that the MCTC has no jurisdiction over the complaint for
forcible entry that the private respondents filed below. Citing Section 33 of The Judiciary
The petitioners thereafter filed on 2 August 2007 with the Court of Appeals, Cebu City, a Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691,14 they maintain that the
Petition for Review11(under Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure) of the Permanent forcible entry case in fact involves issues of title to or possession of real property or an
Mandatory Injunction and Order of Demolition of the RTC of Kalibo, Br. 6 in Civil interest therein, with the assessed value of the property involved exceeding P20,000.00;
Case No. 7990. thus, the case should be originally cognizable by the RTC. Accordingly, the petitioners
reason out that the RTC - to where the MCTC decision was appealed - equally has no
jurisdiction to rule on the case on appeal and could not have validly issued the assailed
Meanwhile, respondent Sheriff Nelson R. dela Cruz issued the Notice to Vacate and for orders.
Demolition on 19 March 2008.12

OUR RULING
It was against this factual backdrop that the petitioners filed the present petition last 29
April 2008. The petition contains and prays for three remedies, namely: a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court; the issuance of a writ of habeas data We find the petitions for certiorari and issuance of a writ of habeas data fatally
under the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data; and finally, the issuance of the writ of amparo defective, both in substance and in form. The petition for the issuance of the writ
under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. of amparo, on the other hand, is fatally defective with respect to content and
substance.

To support the petition and the remedies prayed for, the petitioners present factual
positions diametrically opposed to the MCTC's findings and legal reasons. Most importantly, The Petition for Certiorari
the petitioners maintain their claims of prior possession of the disputed land and of
intrusion into this land by the private respondents. The material factual allegations of the We conclude, based on the outlined material antecedents that led to the petition, that the
petition - bases as well of the petition for the issuance of the writ of amparo - read: petition for certiorari to nullify the assailed RTC orders has been filed out of time. It is not
lost on us that the petitioners have a pending petition with the Court of Appeals (the "CA
"29. On April 29, 2006 at about 9:20 a.m. armed men sporting 12 gauge shot guns intruded into petition") for the review of the same RTC orders now assailed in the present petition,
the property of the defendants [the land in dispute]. They were not in uniform. They fired their although the petitioners never disclosed in the body of the present petition the exact status of
shotguns at the defendants. Later the following day at 2:00 a.m. two houses of the defendants were their pending CA petition. The CA petition, however, was filed with the Court of Appeals on
burned to ashes. 2 August 2007, which indicates to us that the assailed orders (or at the very least, the latest
of the interrelated assailed orders) were received on 1 August 2007 at the latest. The
present petition, on the other hand, was filed on April 29, 2008 or more than eight months
from the time the CA petition was filed. Thus, the present petition is separated in point of sought below in order to mislead us into action on the RTC orders without frontally
time from the assumed receipt of the assailed RTC orders by at least eight (8) months, i.e., considering the action that the Court of Appeals had already undertaken.
beyond the reglementary period of sixty (60) days15 from receipt of the assailed order or
orders or from notice of the denial of a seasonably filed motion for reconsideration.
At the very least, the petitioners are obviously seeking to obtain from us, via the present
petition, the same relief that it could not wait for from the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
We note in this regard that the petitioners' counsel stated in his attached "Certificate of No. 02859. The petitioners' act of seeking against the same parties the nullification of the
Compliance with Circular #1-88 of the Supreme Court"16 ("Certificate of Compliance") that same RTC orders before the appellate court and before us at the same time, although made
"in the meantime the RTC and the Sheriff issued a NOTICE TO VACATE AND FOR through different mediums that are both improperly used, constitutes willful and deliberate
DEMOLITION not served to counsel but to the petitioners who sent photo copy of the same forum shopping that can sufficiently serve as basis for the summary dismissal of the
NOTICE to their counsel on April 18, 2008 by LBC." To guard against any insidious petition under the combined application of the fourth and penultimate paragraphs of
argument that the present petition is timely filed because of this Notice to Vacate, we feel it Section 3, Rule 46; Section 5, Rule 7; Section 1, Rule 65; and Rule 56, all of the Revised
best to declare now that the counting of the 60-day reglementary period under Rule 65 Rules of Court. That a wrong remedy may have been used with the Court of Appeals and
cannot start from the April 18, 2008 date cited by the petitioners' counsel. The Notice to possibly with us will not save the petitioner from a forum-shopping violation where there is
Vacate and for Demolition is not an order that exists independently from the RTC orders identity of parties, involving the same assailed interlocutory orders, with the recourses
assailed in this petition and in the previously filed CA petition. It is merely a notice, made existing side by side at the same time.
in compliance with one of the assailed orders, and is thus an administrative enforcement
medium that has no life of its own separately from the assailed order on which it is based. It
To restate the prevailing rules, "forum shopping is the institution of two or more actions or
cannot therefore be the appropriate subject of an independent petition for certiorari under
proceedings involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously
Rule 65 in the context of this case. The April 18, 2008 date cannot likewise be the material
or successively, on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable
date for Rule 65 purposes as the above-mentioned Notice to Vacate is not even directly
disposition. Forum shopping may be resorted to by any party against whom an adverse
assailed in this petition, as the petition's Prayer patently shows.17
judgment or order has been issued in one forum, in an attempt to seek a favorable opinion in
another, other than by appeal or a special civil action for certiorari. Forum shopping trifles
Based on the same material antecedents, we find too that the petitioners have been guilty of with the courts, abuses their processes, degrades the administration of justice and congest
willful and deliberate misrepresentation before this Court and, at the very least, of forum court dockets. Willful and deliberate violation of the rule against it is a ground for summary
shopping. dismissal of the case; it may also constitute direct contempt."20

By the petitioners' own admissions, they filed a petition with the Court of Appeals (docketed Additionally, the required verification and certification of non-forum shopping is defective
as CA - G.R. SP No. 02859) for the review of the orders now also assailed in this petition, as one (1) of the seven (7) petitioners - Ivan Tapuz - did not sign, in violation of Sections 4
but brought the present recourse to us, allegedly because "the CA did not act on the petition and 5 of Rule 7; Section 3, Rule 46; Section 1, Rule 65; all in relation with Rule 56 of the
up to this date and for the petitioner (sic) to seek relief in the CA would be a waste of time Revised Rules of Court. Of those who signed, only five (5) exhibited their postal
and would render the case moot and academic since the CA refused to resolve pending urgent identification cards with the Notary Public.
motions and the Sheriff is determined to enforce a writ of demolition despite the defect of
LACK OF JURISDICTION."18
In any event, we find the present petition for certiorari, on its face and on the basis of the
supporting attachments, to be devoid of merit. The MCTC correctly assumed jurisdiction
Interestingly, the petitioners' counsel - while making this claim in the body of the petition - over the private respondents' complaint, which specifically alleged a cause for forcible entry
at the same time represented in his Certificate of Compliance19 that: and not - as petitioners may have misread or misappreciated - a case involving title to or
possession of realty or an interest therein. Under Section 33, par. 2 of The Judiciary
(e) the petitioners went up to the Court of Appeals to question the WRIT OF PRELIMINARY Reorganization Act, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691, exclusive jurisdiction over
INJUNCTION copy of the petition is attached (sic); forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases lies with the Metropolitan Trial Courts,
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. These first-level courts have
had jurisdiction over these cases - called accion interdictal - even before the R.A. 7691
(f) the CA initially issued a resolution denying the PETITION because it held that the
amendment, based on the issue of pure physical possession (as opposed to the right of
ORDER TO VACATE AND FOR DEMOLITION OF THE HOMES OF PETITIONERS is not
capable of being the subject of a PETITION FOR RELIEF, copy of the resolution of the CA is possession). This jurisdiction is regardless of the assessed value of the property involved; the
attached hereto; (underscoring supplied) law established no distinctions based on the assessed value of the property forced into or
unlawfully detained. Separately from accion interdictalare accion publiciana for the
recovery of the right of possession as a plenary action, and accion reivindicacion for the
(g) Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration on August 7, 2007 but up to this date the same had
not been resolved copy of the MR is attached (sic). recovery of ownership.21 Apparently, these latter actions are the ones the petitioners refer to
when they cite Section 33, par. 3, in relation with Section 19, par. 2 of The Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691, in which jurisdiction may
The difference between the above representations on what transpired at the appellate court either be with the first-level courts or the regional trial courts, depending on the assessed
level is replete with significance regarding the petitioners' intentions. We discern -- from the value of the realty subject of the litigation. As the complaint at the MCTC was patently for
petitioners' act of misrepresenting in the body of their petition that "the CA did not act on forcible entry, that court committed no jurisdictional error correctible by certiorari under
the petition up to this date" while stating the real Court of Appeals action in the the present petition.
Certification of Compliance -- the intent to hide the real state of the remedies the petitioners
In sum, the petition for certiorari should be dismissed for the cited formal (b) Unsubscribed Affidavit of Nemia Carmen y Tapuz, alleging the illegal acts (firing of guns, etc.)
deficiencies, for violation of the non-forum shopping rule, for having been filed committed by a security guard against minors - descendants of Antonio Tapuz;
out of time, and for substantive deficiencies.
(c) Unsubscribed Affidavit of Melanie Tapuz y Samindao, essentially corroborating Nemia's affidavit;
The Writ of Amparo
(d) Certification dated 23 April 2006 issued by Police Officer Jackson Jauod regarding the incident of
petitioners' intrusion into the disputed land;
To start off with the basics, the writ of amparo was originally conceived as a response to the
extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced disappearances, and to the
perceived lack of available and effective remedies to address these extraordinary concerns. (e) Certification dated 27 April 2006 issued by Police Officer Allan R. Otis, narrating the altercation
between the Tapuz family and the security guards of the private respondents, including the gun-
It is intended to address violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or security, as an
poking and shooting incident involving one of the security guards;
extraordinary and independent remedy beyond those available under the prevailing Rules,
or as a remedy supplemental to these Rules. What it is not, is a writ to protect
concerns that are purely property or commercial. Neither is it a writ that we shall (f) Certification issued by Police Officer Christopher R. Mendoza, narrating that a house owned by
issue on amorphous and uncertain grounds. Consequently, the Rule on the Writ of Josiel Tapuz, Jr., rented by a certain Jorge Buenavente, was accidentally burned by a fire."
Amparo - in line with the extraordinary character of the writ and the reasonable certainty
that its issuance demands - requires that every petition for the issuance of the Pwrit must On the whole, what is clear from these statements - both sworn and unsworn - is the
be supported by justifying allegations of fact, to wit: overriding involvement of property issues as the petition traces its roots to questions of
physical possession of the property disputed by the private parties. If at all, issues relating
"(a) The personal circumstances of the petitioner; to the right to life or to liberty can hardly be discerned except to the extent that the
occurrence of past violence has been alleged. The right to security, on the other hand, is
alleged only to the extent of the threats and harassments implied from the presence of
(b) The name and personal circumstances of the respondent responsible for the threat, act or
"armed men bare to the waist" and the alleged pointing and firing of weapons. Notably,
omission, or, if the name is unknown or uncertain, the respondent may be described by an assumed
appellation; none of the supporting affidavits compellingly show that the threat to the rights
to life, liberty and security of the petitioners is imminent or is continuing.
(c) The right to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party violated or threatened with
violation by an unlawful act or omission of the respondent, and how such threat or A closer look at the statements shows that at least two of them - the statements of Nemia
violation is committed with the attendant circumstances detailed in supporting affidavits; Carreon y Tapuz and Melanie Tapuz are practically identical and unsworn. The
Certification by Police Officer Jackson Jauod, on the other hand, simply narrates what had
(d) The investigation conducted, if any, specifying the names, personal circumstances, and been reported by one Danny Tapuz y Masangkay, and even mentions that the burning of
addresses of the investigating authority or individuals, as well as the manner and conduct two residential houses was "accidental."
of the investigation, together with any report;

As against these allegations are the cited MCTC factual findings in its decision in the
(e) The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to determine the fate or whereabouts of the forcible entry case which rejected all the petitioners' factual claims. These findings are
aggrieved party and the identity of the person responsible for the threat, act or omission; and significantly complete and detailed, as they were made under a full-blown judicial process,
i.e., after examination and evaluation of the contending parties' positions, evidence and
(f) The relief prayed for. arguments and based on the report of a court-appointed commissioner.

The petition may include a general prayer for other just and equitable reliefs." 22 We preliminarily examine these conflicting factual positions under the backdrop of a dispute
(with incidents giving rise to allegations of violence or threat thereof) that was brought to
and ruled upon by the MCTC; subsequently brought to the RTC on an appeal that is still
The writ shall issue if the Court is preliminarily satisfied with the prima facie existence of
pending; still much later brought to the appellate court without conclusive results; and
the ultimate facts determinable from the supporting affidavits that detail the circumstances
then brought to us on interlocutory incidents involving a plea for the issuance of the writ of
of how and to what extent a threat to or violation of the rights to life, liberty and security of
amparo that, if decided as the petitioners advocate, may render the pending RTC appeal
the aggrieved party was or is being committed.
moot.

The issuance of the writ of amparo in the present case is anchored on the factual allegations
Under these legal and factual situations, we are far from satisfied with the prima
heretofore quoted,23that are essentially repeated in paragraph 54 of the petition. These
facie existence of the ultimate facts that would justify the issuance of a writ of amparo.
allegations are supported by the following documents:
Rather than acts of terrorism that pose a continuing threat to the persons of the petitioners,
the violent incidents alleged appear to us to be purely property-related and focused on the
"(a) Joint Affidavit dated 23 May 2006 of Rowena B. Onag, Apolsida Umambong, Ariel Gac, Darwin disputed land. Thus, if the petitioners wish to seek redress and hold the alleged
Alvarez and Edgardo Pinaranda, supporting the factual positions of the petitioners, id., petitioners' perpetrators criminally accountable, the remedy may lie more in the realm of ordinary
prior possession, private respondents' intrusion and the illegal acts committed by the private
criminal prosecution rather than on the use of the extraordinary remedy of the writ of
respondents and their security guards on 19 April 2006;
amparo.
Nor do we believe it appropriate at this time to disturb the MCTC findings, as our action (d) The location of the files, registers or databases, the government office, and
may carry the unintended effect, not only of reversing the MCTC ruling independently of the person in charge, in possession or in control of the data or information, if
the appeal to the RTC that is now in place, but also of nullifying the ongoing appeal process. known;
Such effect, though unintended, will obviously wreak havoc on the orderly administration of
justice, an overriding goal that the Rule on the Writ of Amparo does not intend to weaken or
(e) The reliefs prayed for, which may include the updating, rectification, suppression or
negate.
destruction of the database or information or files kept by the respondent.

Separately from these considerations, we cannot fail but consider too at this point the
In case of threats, the relief may include a prayer for an order enjoining the act
indicators, clear and patent to us, that the petitioners' present recourse via the remedy of
complained of; and
the writ of amparo is a mere subterfuge to negate the assailed orders that the petitioners
sought and failed to nullify before the appellate court because of the use of an improper
remedial measure. We discern this from the petitioners' misrepresentations pointed out (f) Such other relevant reliefs as are just and equitable."
above; from their obvious act of forum shopping; and from the recourse itself to the
extraordinary remedies of the writs of certiorari and amparo based on grounds that are far Support for the habeas data aspect of the present petition only alleges that:
from forthright and sufficiently compelling. To be sure, when recourses in the ordinary
course of law fail because of deficient legal representation or the use of improper remedial
measures, neither the writ of certiorari nor that of amparo - extraordinary though they may "1. [ … ] Similarly, a petition for a WRIT OF HABEAS DATA is prayed for so that the
be - will suffice to serve as a curative substitute. The writ of amparo, particularly, should PNP may release the report on the burning of the homes of the petitioners and the acts
not issue when applied for as a substitute for the appeal or certiorari process, or when it will of violence employed against them by the private respondents, furnishing the Court and
inordinately interfere with these processes - the situation obtaining in the present case. the petitioners with copy of the same;

While we say all these, we note too that the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides for rules […]
on the institution of separate actions,24 for the effect of earlier-filed criminal actions,25 and
for the consolidation of petitions for the issuance of a writ of amparo with a subsequently 66. Petitioners apply for a WRIT OF HABEAS DATA commanding the Philippine
filed criminal and civil action.26 These rules were adopted to promote an orderly procedure National Police [PNP] to produce the police report pertaining to the burning of the
for dealing with petitions for the issuance of the writ of amparo when the parties resort to houses of the petitioners in the land in dispute and likewise the investigation report if
other parallel recourses. an investigation was conducted by the PNP."

Where, as in this case, there is an ongoing civil process dealing directly with the possessory These allegations obviously lack what the Rule on Writ of Habeas Data requires as a
dispute and the reported acts of violence and harassment, we see no point in separately and minimum, thus rendering the petition fatally deficient. Specifically, we see no concrete
directly intervening through a writ of amparo in the absence of any clear prima allegations of unjustified or unlawful violation of the right to privacy related to the right to
facie showing that the right to life, liberty or security - the personalconcern that the writ is life, liberty or security. The petition likewise has not alleged, much less demonstrated, any
intended to protect - is immediately in danger or threatened, or that the danger or threat is need for information under the control of police authorities other than those it has already
continuing. We see no legal bar, however, to an application for the issuance of the writ, in a set forth as integral annexes. The necessity or justification for the issuance of the writ,
proper case, by motion in a pending case on appeal or on certiorari, applying by analogy the based on the insufficiency of previous efforts made to secure information, has not also been
provisions on the co-existence of the writ with a separately filed criminal case. shown. In sum, the prayer for the issuance of a writ of habeas data is nothing more than the
"fishing expedition" that this Court - in the course of drafting the Rule on habeas data - had
The Writ of Habeas Data in mind in defining what the purpose of a writ of habeas data is not. In these lights, the
outright denial of the petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas data is fully in order.
Section 6 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data requires the following material allegations
of ultimate facts in a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data: WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DISMISS the present
petition OUTRIGHT for deficiencies of form and substance patent from its body and
attachments.
"(a) The personal circumstances of the petitioner and the respondent;

SO ORDERED.
(b) The manner the right to privacy is violated or threatened and how it affects
the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party;

(c) The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to secure the data or
information;
G.R. No. 182795. June 5, 2008.* cases, G.R. Nos. 177448, 180768, 177701 and 177038. Inherent in the powers of the Supreme
ARMANDO Q. CANLAS, MIGUEL D. CAPISTRANO, MARRIETA PIA, Court of the Philippines is to modify, reverse and set aside, even its own previous
petitioners, vs. NAPICO HOMEOWNERS ASS’N., I- XIII, INC., ET AL., respondents. decision, that can not be thwarted nor influenced by any one, but, only on the basis of
merits and evidence. This is the purpose of this petition for the Writ of Amparo.3

Constitutional Law; Writ of Amparo; Petitioners’ claim to their dwelling, assuming


they still have any despite the final and executory judgment adverse to them, does not We dismiss the petition.
constitute right to life, liberty and security; There is, therefore, no legal basis for the issuance
of the writ of amparo.—The threatened demolition of a dwelling by virtue of a final The Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides:
judgment of the court, which in this case was affirmed with finality by this Court in G.R.
Nos. 177448, 180768, 177701, 177038, is not included among the enumeration of rights as
stated in the above-quoted Section 1 for which the remedy of a writ of amparo is made Section 1. Petition. – The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person
whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful
available. Their claim to their dwelling, assuming they still have any despite the final and
act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.
executory judgment adverse to them, does not constitute right to life, liberty and security.
There is, therefore, no legal basis for the issuance of the writ of amparo.
The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof. (Emphasis
Same; Same; No writ of amparo may be issued unless there is a clear allegation of the supplied.)
supposed factual and legal basis of the right sought to be protected.—The factual and legal
basis for petitioners’ claim to the land in question is not alleged in the petition at all. The The threatened demolition of a dwelling by virtue of a final judgment of the court, which in
Court can only surmise that these rights and interest had already been threshed out and this case was affirmed with finality by this Court in G.R. Nos. 177448, 180768, 177701,
settled in the four cases cited above. No writ of amparo may be issued unless there is a clear 177038, is not included among the enumeration of rights as stated in the above-quoted
allegation of the supposed factual and legal basis of the right sought to be protected. Under Section 1 for which the remedy of a writ of amparo is made available. Their claim to their
Section 6 of the same rules, the court shall issue the writ upon the filing of the petition, dwelling, assuming they still have any despite the final and executory judgment adverse to
only if on its face, the court ought to issue said writ. them, does not constitute right to life, liberty and security. There is, therefore, no legal basis
PETITION for Issuance of Writ of Amparo.
The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court. for the issuance of the writ of amparo.
REYES, R.T., J.:

THE present petition filed on May 26, 2008 seeks the issuance of a Writ of Amparo upon the
following premise: Besides, the factual and legal basis for petitioners’ claim to the land in question is not
Petitioners were deprived of their liberty, freedom and/or rights to shelter enshrined and embodied alleged in the petition at all. The Court can only surmise that these rights and interest had
in our Constitution, as the result of these nefarious activities of both the Private and Public already been threshed out and settled in the four cases cited above. No writ of amparo may
Respondents. This ardent request filed before this Honorable Supreme Court is the only solution to
this problem via this newly advocated principles incorporated in the Rules – the "RULE ON THE
be issued unless there is a clear allegation of the supposed factual and legal basis of the
WRIT OF AMPARO."1 right sought to be protected.

It appears that petitioners are settlers in a certain parcel of land situated in Barangay Under Section 6 of the same rules, the court shall issue the writ upon the filing of the
Manggahan, Pasig City. Their dwellings/houses have either been demolished as of the time petition, only if on its face, the court ought to issue said writ.
of filing of the petition, or is about to be demolished pursuant to a court judgment.
Section 6. Issuance of the Writ. – Upon the filing of the petition, the court, justice or judge shall
immediately order the issuance of the writ if on its face it ought to issue. The clerk of court shall
While they attempted to focus on issuance of what they claimed to be fraudulent and issue the writ under the seal of the court; or in case of urgent necessity, the justice or the judge may
spurious land titles, to wit: issue the writ under his or her own hand, and may deputize any officer or person to serve it.
Petitioners herein are desirous to help the government, the best way they can, to unearth these so-
called "syndicates" clothed with governmental functions, in cahoots with the "squatting
syndicates" - - - - the low so defines. If only to give its proper meanings, the Government must be The writ shall also set the date and time for summary hearing of the petition which shall not be later
the first one to cleans (sic) its ranks from these unscrupulous political protégées. If unabated would than seven (7) days from the date of its issuance.
certainly ruin and/or destroy the efficacy of the Torrens System of land registration in this Country.
It is therefore the ardent initiatives of the herein Petitioners, by way of the said prayer for the
issuance of the Writ of Amparo, that these unprincipled Land Officials be summoned to Considering that there is no legal basis for its issuance, as in this case, the writ will not be
answer their participation in the issuances of these fraudulent and spurious issued and the petition will be dismissed outright.
titles, NOW, in the hands of the Private Respondents. The Courts of Justice, including this
Honorable Supreme Court, are likewise being made to believe that said titles in the
possession of the Private Respondents were issued untainted with frauds.2 This new remedy of writ of amparo which is made available by this Court is intended for the
protection of the highest possible rights of any person, which is his or her right to life,
what the petition ultimately seeks is the reversal of this Court’s dismissal of petitions in liberty and security. The Court will not spare any time or effort on its part in order to give
G.R. Nos. 177448, 180768, 177701, 177038, thus: priority to petitions of this nature. However, the Court will also not waste its precious time
That, Petitioners herein knew before hand that: there can be no motion for reconsideration for the and effort on matters not covered by the writ.
second or third time to be filed before this Honorable Supreme Court. As such therefore, Petitioners
herein are aware of the opinion that this present petition should not in any way be treated as such
motions fore reconsideration. Solely, this petition is only for the possible issuance of the writ of WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.
amparo, although it might affect the previous rulings of this Honorable Supreme Court in these
G.R. No. 182165. November 25, 2009.* Malolos, Branch 10 in a petition for issuance of writs of amparo and habeas data instituted
P/SUPT. FELIXBERTO CASTILLO, POLICE OFFICERS ROMEO BAGTAS, RUPERTO by respondents.
BORLONGAN, EDMUNDO DIONISIO, RONNIE MORALES, ARNOLD TRIA, and
GILBERTO PUNZALAN, ENGR. RICASOL P. MILLAN, ENGR. REDENTOR S. DELA
The factual antecedents.
CRUZ, MR. ANASTACIO L. BORLONGAN, MR. ARTEMIO ESGUERRA, “TISOY,” and
JOHN DOES, petitioners, vs. DR. AMANDA T. CRUZ, NIXON T. CRUZ, and FERDINAND
T. CRUZ, respondents. Respondent Amanda Cruz (Amanda) who, along with her husband Francisco G. Cruz
(Spouses Cruz), leased a parcel of land situated at Barrio Guinhawa, Malolos (the property),
Writ of Amparo; Writ of Habeas Data; The coverage of the writs is limited to the refused to vacate the property, despite demands by the lessor Provincial Government of
protection of rights to life, liberty and security; The writs cover not only actual but also Bulacan (the Province) which intended to utilize it for local projects.
threats of unlawful acts or omissions.—The coverage of the writs is limited to the protection
of rights to life, liberty and security. And the writs cover not only actual but also threats The Province thus filed a complaint for unlawful detainer against the Spouses Cruz before
of unlawful acts or omissions. the then Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Bulacan, Bulacan.
Same; Same; To be covered by the privilege of the writs, respondent must meet the
threshold requirement that their right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened By Decision of September 5, 1997, the MTC rendered judgment against the Spouses Cruz,
with an unlawful act or omission.—To thus be covered by the privilege of the writs, which judgment, following its affirmance by the RTC, became final and executory.
respondents must meet the threshold requirement that their right to life, liberty and
security is violated or threatened with an unlawful act or omission. Evidently, the present The finality of the decision in the ejectment case notwithstanding, the spouses Cruz refused
controversy arose out of a property dispute between the Provincial Government and to vacate the property. They thereupon filed cases against the Province 2 and the judges who
respondents. Absent any considerable nexus between the acts complained of and its effect on presided over the case.3 Those cases were dismissed except their petition for annulment of
respondents’ right to life, liberty and security, the Court will not delve on the propriety of judgment lodged before Branch 18 of the RTC of Malolos, and a civil
petitioners’ entry into the property. case for injunction 833-M-2004 lodged before Branch 10 of the same RTC Malolos.

Same; Same; Absent any evidence or even an allegation in the petition that there is
undue and continuing restraint on their liberty and/or that there exists threat or intimidation The Spouses Cruz sought in the case for injunction the issuance of a permanent writ of
that destroys the efficacy of their right to be secure in their persons, the issuance of the writ injunction to prevent the execution of the final and executory judgment against them.
cannot be justified.—Although respondents’ release from confinement does not necessarily
hinder supplication for the writ of amparo, absent any evidence or even an allegation in the By Order of July 19, 2005, the RTC, finding merit in the Spouses Cruzes’ allegation that
petition that there is undue and continuing restraint on their liberty, and/or that there subsequent events changed the situation of the parties to justify a suspension of the
exists threat or intimidation that destroys the efficacy of their right to be secure in their execution of the final and executory judgment, issued a permanent writ of injunction, the
persons, the issuance of the writ cannot be justified. dispositive portion of which reads:

Same; Same; Petitions for writs of amparo and habeas data are extraordinary remedies
WHEREFORE, the foregoing petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration of the Order dated August 10, 2004
which cannot be used as tools to stall the execution of a final and executory decision in a is hereby GRANTED. Order dated August 10, 2004 is hereby RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE.
property dispute.—It need not be underlined that respondents’ petitions for writs Further, the verified petition dated November 05, 2002 are hereby REINSTATED and MADE
of amparo and habeas data are extraordinary remedies which cannot be used as tools to PERMANENT until the MTC-Bulacan, Bulacan finally resolves the pending motions of petitioners with
stall the execution of a final and executory decision in a property dispute. the same determines the metes and bounds of 400 sq. meters leased premises subject matter of this case
with immediate dispatch. Accordingly, REMAND the determination of the issues raised by the
Same; Same; Validity of the arrest or the proceedings conducted thereafter is a defense petitioners on the issued writ of demolition to the MTC of Bulacan, Bulacan.
that may be set up by respondents during trial and not before a petition for writs of amparo
and habeas data.—At all events, respondents’ filing of the petitions for writs SO ORDERED.4 (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)
of amparo and habeas data should have been barred, for criminal proceedings against them
had commenced after they were arrested in flagrante delicto and proceeded against in
Finding that the fallo of the RTC July 19, 2005 Order treats, as a suspensive condition for
accordance with Section 6, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court. Validity of the arrest or the
the lifting of the permanent injunction, the determination of the boundaries of the property,
proceedings conducted thereafter is a defense that may be set up by respondents during
the Province returned the issue for the consideration of the MTC. In a Geodetic Engineer’s
trial and not before a petition for writs of amparo and habeas data. The reliefs afforded by
Report submitted to the MTC on August 31, 2007, the metes and bounds of the property
the writs may, however, be made available to the aggrieved party by motion in the criminal
were indicated.
proceedings.
PETITION in the Supreme Court for Issuance of Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. The MTC, by Order of January 2, 2008, approved the Report and ruled that the permanent
Jeffrey C. Cruz for petitioners.
Francisco Galman Cruz for respondents. injunction which the RTC issued is ineffective. On motion of the Province, the MTC, by
CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
Order of January 21, 2008, thus issued a Second Alias Writ of Demolition.

Petitioners1 , employees and members of the local police force of the City Government of
Malolos, challenge the March 28, 2008 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
On receiving notice of the January 2, 2008 MTC Order, the Spouses Cruz filed a motion commitment orders and waivers are hereby SET ASIDE. The temporary release of the petitioners is
before Branch 10 of the RTC for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) which declared ABSOLUTE.
it set for hearing on January 25, 2008 on which date, however, the demolition had, earlier in
the day, been implemented. Such notwithstanding, the RTC issued a TRO. 5 The Spouses Without any pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED."9 (Emphasis in the original; underscoring
Cruz, along with their sons-respondents Nixon and Ferdinand, thereupon entered the supplied)
property, placed several container vans and purportedly represented themselves as owners
of the property which was for lease.
Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari, pursuant to Section 1910 of The Rule on
the Writ of Amparo (A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC),11 which is essentially reproduced in the Rule on
On February 21, 2008, petitioners Police Superintendent Felixberto Castillo et al., who were the Writ of Habeas Data (A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC).12
deployed by the City Mayor in compliance with a memorandum issued by Governor Joselito
R. Mendoza instructing him to "protect, secure and maintain the possession of the In the main, petitioners fault the RTC for
property," entered the property.

… giving due course and issuing writs of amparo and habeas data when from the allegations of the
Amanda and her co-respondents refused to turn over the property, however. Insisting that petition, the same ought not to have been issued as (1) the petition in [sic] insufficient in substance as the
the RTC July 19, 2005 Order of Permanent Injunction enjoined the Province from same involves property rights; and (2) criminal cases had already been filed and pending with the
repossessing it, they shoved petitioners, forcing the latter to arrest them and cause their Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 1, City of Malolos. (Underscoring supplied)
indictment for direct assault, trespassing and other forms of light threats.
The petition is impressed with merit.
Respondents later filed on March 3, 2008 a "Respectful Motion-Petition for Writ of Amparo
and Habeas Data," docketed as Special Civil Action No. 53-M-2008, which was The Court is, under the Constitution, empowered to promulgate rules for the protection and
coincidentally raffled to Branch 10 of the RTC Malolos. enforcement of constitutional rights.13 In view of the heightening prevalence of extrajudicial
killings and enforced disappearances, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo was issued and took
Respondents averred that despite the Permanent Injunction, petitioners unlawfully entered effect on October 24, 2007 which coincided with the celebration of United Nations Day and
the property with the use of heavy equipment, tore down the barbed wire fences and affirmed the Court’s commitment towards internationalization of human rights. More than
tents,6 and arrested them when they resisted petitioners’ entry; and that as early as in the three months later or on February 2, 2008, the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data was
evening of February 20, 2008, members of the Philippine National Police had already promulgated.
camped in front of the property.
Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides:
On the basis of respondents’ allegations in their petition and the supporting affidavits, the
RTC, by Order of March 4, 2008, issued writs of amparo and habeas data.7 Section 1. Petition. – The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right
to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or
omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The writ shall cover
The RTC, crediting respondents’ version in this wise:
extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioners have shown by preponderant evidence that the facts and circumstances of the alleged offenses
examined into on Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data that there have been an on-going hearings on the
Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data provides:
verified Petition for Contempt, docketed as Special Proceedings No. 306-M-2006, before this Court for
alleged violation by the respondents of the Preliminary Injunction Order dated July 16, 2005 [sic] in Sp. Section 1. Habeas Data. – The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to
Civil Action No. 833-M-2002, hearings were held on January 25, 2008, February 12 and 19, 2008, where privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public
the respondents prayed for an April 22, 2008 continuance, however, in the pitch darkness of February 20, official or employee or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of
2008, police officers, some personnel from the Engineering department, and some civilians proceeded data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.
purposely to the Pinoy Compound, converged therein and with continuing threats of bodily harm and (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
danger and stone-throwing of the roofs of the homes thereat from voices around its premises, on a pretext
of an ordinary police operation when enterviewed [sic] by the media then present, but at 8:00 a.m. to late
in the afternoon of February 21, 2008, zoomed in on the petitioners, subjecting them to bodily harm, From the above-quoted provisions, the coverage of the writs is limited to the protection of
mental torture, degradation, and the debasement of a human being, reminiscent of the martial law police rights to life, liberty and security. And the writs cover not only actual but also threats of
brutality, sending chill in any ordinary citizen,8 unlawful acts or omissions.

rendered judgment, by Decision of March 28, 2008, in favor of respondents, disposing as Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo14 teaches:
follows:

As the Amparo Rule was intended to address the intractable problem of "extralegal killings" and
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commitment Orders and waivers in Crim. Cases Nos. 08- "enforced disappearances," its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to
77 for Direct assault; Crim. Case No. 08-77 for Other Forms of Trespass; and Crim. Case No. 08-78 threats thereof. "Extralegal killings" are "killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without
for Light Threats are hereby DECLARED illegal, null and void, as petitioners were deprived of their legal safeguards or judicial proceedings." On the other hand, "enforced disappearances" are "attended by
substantial rights, induced by duress or a well-founded fear of personal violence. Accordingly, the
the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or abduction of a person by a government official or undue and continuing restraint on their liberty, and/or that there exists threat or
organized groups or private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; intimidation that destroys the efficacy of their right to be secure in their persons, the
the refusal of the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to issuance of the writ cannot be justified.
acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of
law.15 (Underscoring supplied, citations omitted)
That respondents are merely seeking the protection of their property rights is gathered from
To thus be covered by the privilege of the writs, respondents must meet the threshold their Joint Affidavit, viz:
requirement that their right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with an
unlawful act or omission. Evidently, the present controversy arose out of a property dispute 11. Kami ay humarang at humiga sa harap ng mga heavy equipment na hawak hawak ang nasabing
between the Provincial Government and respondents. Absent any considerable nexus kautusan ng RTC Branch 10 (PERMANENT INJUNCTION at RTC ORDERS DATED February 12, 17
between the acts complained of and its effect on respondents’ right to life, liberty and at 19 2008) upang ipaglaban ang dignidad ng kautusan ng korte, ipaglaban ang prinsipyo ng "SELF-
HELP" at batas ukol sa "PROPERTY RIGHTS", Wala kaming nagawa ipagtanggol ang aming
security, the Court will not delve on the propriety of petitioners’ entry into the property.
karapatan sa lupa na 45 years naming "IN POSSESSION." (Underscoring supplied)

Apropos is the Court’s ruling in Tapuz v. Del Rosario:16


Oddly, respondents also seek the issuance of a writ of habeas data when it is not even
alleged that petitioners are gathering, collecting or storing data or information regarding
To start off with the basics, the writ of amparo was originally conceived as a response to the their person, family, home and correspondence.
extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced disappearances, and to the perceived lack of
available and effective remedies to address these extraordinary concerns. It is intended to address
violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or security, as an extraordinary and independent As for respondents’ assertion of past incidents21 wherein the Province allegedly violated the
remedy beyond those available under the prevailing Rules, or as a remedy supplemental to these Permanent Injunction order, these incidents were already raised in the injunction
Rules. What it is not, is a writ to protect concerns that are purely property or commercial. proceedings on account of which respondents filed a case for criminal contempt against
Neither is it a writ that we shall issue on amorphous and uncertain grounds. Consequently, the petitioners.22
Rule on the Writ of Amparo – in line with the extraordinary character of the writ and the reasonable
certainty that its issuance demands – requires that every petition for the issuance of the writ must be
supported by justifying allegations of fact, to wit: Before the filing of the petition for writs of amparo and habeas data, or on February 22,
2008, petitioners even instituted a petition for habeas corpus which was considered moot
The writ shall issue if the Court is preliminarily satisfied with the prima facie existence of the ultimate and academic by Branch 14 of the Malolos RTC and was accordingly denied by Order of
facts determinable from the supporting affidavits that detail the circumstances of how and to what April 8, 2008.
extent a threat to or violation of the rights to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party was or is
being committed.17 (Emphasis and italics in the original, citation omitted)
More. Respondent Amanda and one of her sons, Francisco Jr., likewise filed a petition for
writs of amparo and habeas data before the Sandiganbayan, they alleging the commission of
Tapuz also arose out of a property dispute, albeit between private individuals, with the continuing threats by petitioners after the issuance of the writs by the RTC, which petition
petitioners therein branding as "acts of terrorism" the therein respondents’ alleged entry was dismissed for insufficiency and forum shopping.
into the disputed land with armed men in tow. The Court therein held:
It thus appears that respondents are not without recourse and have in fact taken full
On the whole, what is clear from these statements – both sworn and unsworn – is the overriding advantage of the legal system with the filing of civil, criminal and administrative
involvement of property issues as the petition traces its roots to questions of physical possession of the
charges.231avvphi1
property disputed by the private parties. If at all, issues relating to the right to life or to liberty can
hardly be discerned except to the extent that the occurrence of past violence has been alleged. The right
to security, on the other hand, is alleged only to the extent of the treats and harassments implied from It need not be underlined that respondents’ petitions for writs of amparo and habeas
the presence of "armed men bare to the waist" and the alleged pointing and firing of
data are extraordinary remedies which cannot be used as tools to stall the execution of a
weapons. Notably, none of the supporting affidavits compellingly show that the threat to the
rights to life, liberty and security of the petitioners is imminent or continuing. 18 (Emphasis in final and executory decision in a property dispute.
the original; underscoring supplied)
At all events, respondents’ filing of the petitions for writs of amparo and habeas data should
It bears emphasis that respondents’ petition did not show any actual violation, imminent or have been barred, for criminal proceedings against them had commenced after they were
continuing threat to their life, liberty and security. Bare allegations that petitioners "in arrested in flagrante delicto and proceeded against in accordance with Section 6, Rule
unison, conspiracy and in contempt of court, there and then willfully, forcibly and 11224 of the Rules of Court. Validity of the arrest or the proceedings conducted thereafter is
feloniously with the use of force and intimidation entered and forcibly, physically a defense that may be set up by respondents during trial and not before a petition for writs
manhandled the petitioners (respondents) and arrested the herein petitioners of amparo and habeas data. The reliefs afforded by the writs may, however, be made
(respondents)"19 will not suffice to prove entitlement to the remedy of the writ of amparo. No available to the aggrieved party by motion in the criminal proceedings.25
undue confinement or detention was present. In fact, respondents were even able to post
bail for the offenses a day after their arrest.20 WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The challenged March 4, 2008 Order of Branch 10 of the
Regional Trial Court of Malolos is DECLARED NULL AND VOID, and its March 28, 2008 Decision
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.Special Civil Action No. 53-M-2008 is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.
Although respondents’ release from confinement does not necessarily hinder supplication for
the writ of amparo, absent any evidence or even an allegation in the petition that there is
G.R. No. 182498. December 3, 2009.* evidentiary details, in an Amparo petition, however, this requirement must be read in light of
GEN. AVELINO I. RAZON, JR., Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP); Police Chief the nature and purpose of the proceeding, which addresses a situation of uncertainty—the
Superintendent RAUL CASTAÑEDA, Chief, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group petitioner may not be able to describe with certainty how the victim exactly disappeared, or
(CIDG); Police Senior Superintendent LEONARDO A. ESPINA, Chief, Police Anti-Crime who actually acted to kidnap, abduct or arrest him or her, or where the victim is detained,
and Emergency Response (PACER); and GEN. JOEL R. GOLTIAO, Regional Director of because these information may purposely be hidden or covered up by those who caused the
ARMM, PNP, petitioners, vs. MARY JEAN B. TAGITIS, herein represented by ATTY. disappearance.—The framers of the Amparo Rule never intended Section 5(c) to be complete
FELIPE P. ARCILLA, JR., Attorney-in-Fact, respondent. in every detail in stating the threatened or actual violation of a victim’s rights. As in any
other initiatory pleading, the pleader must of course state the ultimate facts constituting
Writs of Amparo; Nature; Words and Phrases; The Writ of Amparo—a protective the cause of action, omitting the evidentiary details. In an Amparo petition, however, this
remedy against violations or threats of violation against the rights to life, liberty and requirement must be read in light of the nature and purpose of the proceeding, which
security—does not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the disappearance; addresses a situation of uncertainty; the petitioner may not be able to describe with
rather, it determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced disappearance certainty how the victim exactly disappeared, or who actually acted to kidnap, abduct or
for purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address the disappearance; arrest him or her, or where the victim is detained, because these information may purposely
Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial evidence to be hidden or covered up by those who caused the disappearance. In this type of situation, to
have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a require the level of specificity, detail and precision that the petitioners apparently want to
measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the read into the Amparo Rule is to make this Rule a token gesture of judicial concern for
appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in the proper courts; violations of the constitutional rights to life, liberty and security. To read the Rules of Court
Accountability refers to the measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who requirement on pleadings while addressing the unique Amparo situation, the test in reading
exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their the petition should be to determine whether it contains the details available to the petitioner
complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or who are imputed with knowledge under the circumstances, while presenting a cause of action showing a violation of the
relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those who victim’s rights to life, liberty and security through State or private party action. The petition
carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation should likewise be read in its totality, rather than in terms of its isolated component parts,
of the enforced disappearance.—This Decision reflects the nature of the Writ of Amparo—a to determine if the required elements—namely, of the disappearance, the State or private
protective remedy against violations or threats of violation against the rights to life, liberty action, and the actual or threatened violations of the rights to life, liberty or security—are
and security. It embodies, as a remedy, the court’s directive to police agencies to undertake present.601
specified courses of action to address the disappearance of an individual, in this case, Engr.
Morced N. Tagitis. It does not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the Same; Same; Where the petitioner has substantially complied with the requirement by
disappearance; rather, it determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the submitting a verified petition sufficiently detailing the facts relied upon, the strict need for
enforced disappearance for purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address the the sworn statement that an affidavit represents is essentially fulfilled.—If a defect can at all
disappearance. Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by be attributed to the petition, this defect is its lack of supporting affidavit, as required by
substantial evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an Section 5(c) of the AmparoRule. Owing to the summary nature of the proceedings for the
enforced disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, writ and to facilitate the resolution of the petition, the Amparo Rule incorporated the
the directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties requirement for supporting affidavits, with the annotation that these can be used as the
in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies affiant’s direct testimony. This requirement, however, should not be read as an absolute one
that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance that necessarily leads to the dismissal of the petition if not strictly followed. Where, as in
without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or this case, the petitioner has substantially complied with the requirement by submitting
who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the a verified petition sufficiently detailing the facts relied upon, the strict need for the sworn
burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of statement that an affidavit represents is essentially fulfilled. We note that the failure to
extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. In all these attach the required affidavits was fully cured when the respondent and her witness (Mrs.
cases, the issuance of the Writ of Amparo is justified by our primary goal of addressing the Talbin) personally testified in the CA hearings held on January 7 and 17 and February 18,
disappearance, so that the life of the victim is preserved and his liberty and security are 2008 to swear to and flesh out the allegations of the petition. Thus, even on this point, the
restored. petition cannot be faulted.

Same; Same; The Amparo Rule should be read, too, as a work in progress, as its Same; Same; Section 5(e) is in the Amparo Rule to prevent the use of a petition—that
directions and finer points remain to evolve through time and jurisprudence and through the otherwise is not supported by sufficient allegations to constitute a proper cause of action—as
substantive laws that Congress may promulgate.—We highlight this nature of a Writ a means to “fish” for evidence.—These allegations, to our mind, sufficiently specify that
of Amparo case at the outset to stress that the unique situations that call for the issuance of reports have been made to the police authorities, and that investigations should have
the writ, as well as the considerations and measures necessary to address these situations, followed. That the petition did not state the manner and results of the investigation that
may not at all be the same as the standard measures and procedures in ordinary court the AmparoRule requires, but rather generally stated the inaction of the police, their failure
actions and proceedings. In this sense, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo (Amparo Rule) to perform their duty to investigate, or at the very least, their reported failed efforts, should
issued by this Court is unique. The Amparo Rule should be read, too, as a work in progress, not be a reflection on the completeness of the petition. To require the respondent to
as its directions and finer points remain to evolve through time and jurisprudence and elaborately specify the names, personal circumstances, and addresses of the investigating
through the substantive laws that Congress may promulgate.600 authority, as well the manner and conduct of the investigation is an overly strict
interpretation of Section 5(d), given the respondent’s frustrations in securing an
Same; Pleadings and Practice; While, as in any other initiatory pleading, the pleader investigation with meaningful results. Under these circumstances, we are more than
must of course state the ultimate facts constituting the cause of action, omitting the satisfied that the allegations of the petition on the investigations undertaken are
sufficiently complete for purposes of bringing the petition forward. Section 5(e) is in power to address and provided the appropriate remedy therefor, mindful that an elemental
the Amparo Rule to prevent the use of a petition—that otherwise is not supported by definition may intrude into the ongoing legislative efforts. As the law now stands,
sufficient allegations to constitute a proper cause of action—as a means to “fish” for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in this jurisdiction are not crimes
evidence. The petitioners contend that the respondent’s petition did not specify what penalized separately from the component criminal acts undertaken to carry out these
“legally available efforts were taken by the respondent,” and that there was an “undue killings and enforced disappearances and are now penalized under the Revised Penal Code
haste” in the filing of the petition when, instead of cooperating with authorities, the and special laws. The simple reason is that the Legislature has not spoken on the matter;
respondent immediately invoked the Court’s intervention. the determination of what acts are criminal and what the corresponding penalty these
criminal acts should carry are matters of substantive law that only the Legislature has the
Same; Extralegal Killings and Enforced Disappearances; The phenomenon of enforced power to enact under the country’s constitutional scheme and power structure.
disappearance arising from State action first attracted notice in Adolf Hitler’s Nact und
Nebel Erlass or Night and Fog Decree of December 7, 1941; In the mid-1970s, the Same; Same; Supreme Court; Even without the benefit of directly applicable
phenomenon of enforced disappearances resurfaced, shocking and outraging the world when substantive laws on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, however, the
individuals, numbering anywhere from 6,000 to 24,000, were reported to have “disappeared” Supreme Court is not powerless to act under its own constitutional mandate to promulgate
during the military regime in Argentina.—The phenomenon of enforced disappearance “rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice
arising from State action first attracted notice in Adolf Hitler’s Nact und Nebel Erlass or and procedure in all courts,” since extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, by
Night and Fog Decree of December 7, 1941. The Third Reich’s Night and Fog Program, a their nature and purpose, constitute State or private party violation of the constitutional
State policy, was directed at persons in occupied territories “endangering German security”; rights of individuals to life, liberty and security—the legal protection that the Court can
they were transported secretly to Germany where they disappeared without a trace. In provide can be very meaningful through the procedures it sets in addressing extrajudicial
order to maximize the desired intimidating effect, the policy prohibited government officials killings and enforced disappearances.—Even without the benefit of directly applicable
from providing information about the fate of these targeted persons. In the mid-1970s, the substantive laws on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, however, the
phenomenon of enforced disappearances resurfaced, shocking and outraging the world when Supreme Court is not powerless to act under its own constitutional mandate to
individuals, numbering anywhere from 6,000 to 24,000, were reported to have “disappeared” promulgate “rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights,
during the military regime in Argentina. Enforced disappearances spread in Latin America, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts,” since extrajudicial killings and enforced
and the issue became an international concern when the world noted its widespread and disappearances, by their nature and purpose, constitute State or private party violation of
systematic use by State security forces in that continent under Operation Condor and the constitutional rights of individuals to life, liberty and security. Although the Court’s
during the Dirty War in the 1970s and 1980s. The escalation of the practice saw political power is strictly procedural and as such does not diminish, increase or modify substantive
activists secretly arrested, tortured, and killed as part of governments’ counter-insurgency rights, the legal protection that the Court can provide can be very meaningful through the
campaigns. As this form of political brutality became routine elsewhere in the continent, the procedures it sets in addressing extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The
Latin American media standardized the term “disappearance” to describe the phenomenon. Court, through its procedural rules, can set the procedural standards and thereby directly
The victims of enforced disappearances were called the “desaparecidos,” which literally compel the public authorities to act on actual or threatened violations of constitutional
means the “disappeared ones.” rights. To state the obvious, judicial intervention can make a difference—even if only
procedurally—in a situation when the very same investigating public authorities may have
Same; Same; Three Different Kinds of “Disappearance” Cases.—In general, there are had a hand in the threatened or actual violations of constitutional rights.
three different kinds of “disappearance” cases: 1) those of people arrested without witnesses
or without positive identification of the arresting agents and are never found again; 2) those Same; Same; Same; The Court’s intervention is in determining whether an enforced
of prisoners who are usually arrested without an appropriate warrant and held in complete disappearance has taken place and who is responsible or accountable for this disappearance,
isolation for weeks or months while their families are unable to discover their whereabouts and to define and impose the appropriate remedies to address it; The burden for the public
and the military authorities deny having them in custody until they eventually reappear in authorities to discharge in these situations, under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, is twofold:
one detention center or another; and 3) those of victims of “salvaging” who have disappeared the first is to ensure that all efforts at disclosure and investigation are undertaken under
until their lifeless bodies are later discovered. pain of indirect contempt from this Court when governmental efforts are less than what the
individual situations require; and, the second is to address the disappearance, so that the life
Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Although the writ of amparo specifically covers of the victim is preserved and his or her liberty and security restored.—Lest this Court
“enforced disappearances,” this concept is neither defined nor penalized in this jurisdiction; intervention be misunderstood, we clarify once again that we do not rule on any issue
As the law now stands, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in this of criminal culpability for the extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance. This is an
jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately from the component criminal acts issue that requires criminal action before our criminal courts based on our existing penal
undertaken to carry out these killings and enforced disappearances and are now penalized laws. Our intervention is in determining whether an enforced disappearance has taken
under the Revised Penal Code and special laws.—The Amparo Rule expressly provides that place and who is responsible or accountable for this disappearance, and to define and
the “writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.” We impose the appropriate remedies to address it. The burden for the public authorities to
note that although the writ specifically covers “enforced disappearances,” this concept is discharge in these situations, under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, is twofold. The first is
neither defined nor penalized in this jurisdiction. The records of the Supreme Court to ensure that all efforts at disclosure and investigation are undertaken under pain of
Committee on the Revision of Rules (Committee) reveal that the drafters of the Amparo Rule indirect contempt from this Court when governmental efforts are less than what the
initially considered providing an elemental definition of the concept of enforced individual situations require. The second is to address the disappearance, so that the life of
disappearance: x x x In the end, the Committee took cognizance of several bills filed in the the victim is preserved and his or her liberty and security restored. In these senses, our
House of Representatives and in the Senate on extrajudicial killings and enforced orders and directives relative to the writ are continuing efforts that are not truly terminated
disappearances, and resolved to do away with a clear textual definition of these terms in the until the extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance is fully addressed by the complete
Rule. The Committee instead focused on the nature and scope of the concerns within its determination of the fate and the whereabouts of the victim, by the production of the
disappeared person and the restoration of his or her liberty and security, and, in the proper punishable with appropriate penalties under their criminal law. It also recognizes the right
case, by the commencement of criminal action against the guilty parties. of relatives of the disappeared persons and of the society as a whole to know the truth on
the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared and on the progress and results of the
Same; Same; International Law; From the International Law perspective, involuntary investigation. Lastly, it classifies enforced disappearance as a continuing offense, such that
or enforced disappearance is considered a flagrant violation of human rights.—From the statutes of limitations shall not apply until the fate and whereabouts of the victim are
International Law perspective, involuntary or enforced disappearance is considered a established.
flagrant violation of human rights. It does not only violate the right to life, liberty and
security of the desaparecido; it affects their families as well through the denial of their right Same; Same; Same; Same; To date, the Philippines has neither signed nor ratified the
to information regarding the circumstances of the disappeared family member. Thus, Convention, so that the country is not yet committed to enact any law penalizing enforced
enforced disappearances have been said to be “a double form of torture,” with “doubly disappearance as a crime.—To date, the Philippines has neither signed nor ratified the
paralyzing impact for the victims,” as they “are kept ignorant of their own fates, while Convention, so that the country is not yet committed to enact any law penalizing enforced
family members are deprived of knowing the whereabouts of their detained loved ones” and disappearance as a crime. The absence of a specific penal law, however, is not a stumbling
suffer as well the serious economic hardship and poverty that in most cases follow the block for action from this Court, as heretofore mentioned; underlying every enforced
disappearance of the household breadwinner. The UN General Assembly first considered disappearance is a violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty and security that the
the issue of “Disappeared Persons” in December 1978 under Resolution 33/173. The Supreme Court is mandated by the Constitution to protect through its rule-making powers.
Resolution expressed the General Assembly’s deep concern arising from “reports from
various parts of the world relating to enforced or involuntary disappearances,” and Same; Same; Same; Same; Separately from the Constitution (but still pursuant to its
requested the “UN Commission on Human Rights to consider the issue of enforced terms), the Court is guided, in acting on Amparo cases, by the reality that the Philippines is a
disappearances with a view to making appropriate recommendations.” member of the UN, bound by its Charter and by the various conventions we signed and
ratified, particularly the conventions touching on humans rights.—Separately from the
Same; Same; Same; Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Constitution (but still pursuant to its terms), the Court is guided, in acting on Amparocases,
Disappearance (Convention); In 1992, in response to the reality that the insidious practice of by the reality that the Philippines is a member of the UN, bound by its Charter and by the
enforced disappearance had become a global phenomenon, the United Nations General various conventions we signed and ratified, particularly the conventions touching on
Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced humans rights. Under the UN Charter, the Philippines pledged to “promote universal
Disappearance, and fourteen years later (or on December 20, 2006), the UN General respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without
Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from distinctions as to race, sex, language or religion.” Although no universal agreement has been
Enforced Disappearance.—In 1992, in response to the reality that the insidious practice of reached on the precise extent of the “human rights and fundamental freedoms” guaranteed
enforced disappearance had become a global phenomenon, the UN General Assembly to all by the Charter, it was the UN itself that issued the Declaration on enforced
adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced disappearance, and this Declaration states: Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence
Disappearance (Declaration). This Declaration, for the first time, provided in its third to dignity. It is condemned as a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the United
preambular clause a working description of enforced disappearance, as follows: Deeply Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental
concerned that in many countries, often in a persistent manner, enforced disappearances freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed
occur, in the sense that persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their and developed in international instruments in this field. As a matter of human right and
will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or fundamental freedom and as a policy matter made in a UN Declaration, the ban on enforced
levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on disappearance cannot but have its effects on the country, given our own adherence to
behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the “generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.”
Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the
persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, Same; Same; Same; Same; The most widely accepted statement of sources of
which places such persons outside the protection of the law. Fourteen years after (or on international law today is Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice,
December 20, 2006), the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention for which provides that the Court shall apply “international custom, as evidence of a general
the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Convention). The Convention practice accepted as law.”—The most widely accepted statement of sources of international
was opened for signature in Paris, France on February 6, 2007. Article 2 of the Convention law today is Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which provides
defined enforced disappearance as follows: For the purposes of this Convention, “enforced that the Court shall apply “international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted
disappearance” is considered to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of as law.” The material sources of custom include State practice, State legislation,
deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with international and national judicial decisions, recitals in treaties and other international
the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge instruments, a pattern of treaties in the same form, the practice of international organs, and
the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared resolutions relating to legal questions in the UN General Assembly. Sometimes referred to
person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law. as “evidence” of international law, these sources identify the substance and content of the
obligations of States and are indicative of the “State practice” and “opinio juris”
Same; Same; Same; Same; The Convention is the first universal human rights requirements of international law.
instrument to assert that there is a right not to be subject to enforced disappearance and that
this right is non-derogable.—The Convention is the first universal human rights instrument Same; Same; Same; Same; Enforced disappearance as a State practice has been
to assert that there is a right not to be subject to enforced disappearance and that this right repudiated by the international community so that the ban on it is now a generally accepted
is non-derogable. It provides that no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance under principle of international law, which we should consider a part of the law of the land, and
any circumstances, be it a state of war, internal political instability, or any other public which we should act upon to the extent already allowed under our laws and the international
emergency. It obliges State Parties to codify enforced disappearance as an offense conventions that bind us.—While the Philippines is not yet formally bound by the terms of
the Convention on enforced disappearance (or by the specific terms of the Rome Statute) place under circumstances showing a violation of the victim’s constitutional rights to life,
and has not formally declared enforced disappearance as a specific crime, the above recital liberty or security, and the failure on the part of the investigating authorities to
shows that enforced disappearance as a State practice has been repudiated by the appropriately respond.
international community, so that the ban on it is now a generally accepted
principle of international law, which we should consider a part of the law of the Same; Same; Same; Quantum of Evidence; Substantial Evidence; Words and Phrases;
land, and which we should act upon to the extent already allowed under our laws The landmark case of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 (1940),
and the international conventions that bind us. provided the Court its first opportunity to define the substantial evidence required to arrive
at a valid decision in administrative proceedings.—The landmark case of Ang Tibay v. Court
Same; Same; Past experiences in other jurisdictions relative to enforced of Industrial Relations provided the Court its first opportunity to define the substantial
disappearances show that the evidentiary difficulties are generally threefold: first, there may evidence required to arrive at a valid decision in administrative proceedings. To directly
be a deliberate concealment of the identities of the direct perpetrators; second, deliberate quote Ang Tibay: Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such
concealment of pertinent evidence of the disappearance is a distinct possibility; and, third is relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
the element of denial.—These difficulties largely arise because the State itself—the party conclusion. [citations omitted] The statute provides that ‘the rules of evidence prevailing
whose involvement is alleged—investigates enforced disappearances. Past experiences in in courts of law and equity shall not be controlling.’ The obvious purpose of this and similar
other jurisdictions show that the evidentiary difficulties are generally threefold. First, there provisions is to free administrative boards from the compulsion of technical rules so that the
may be a deliberate concealment of the identities of the direct mere admission of matter which would be deemed incompetent in judicial proceedings
perpetrators. Experts note that abductors are well organized, armed and usually members would not invalidate the administrative order. [citations omitted] But this assurance of a
of the military or police forces. Second, deliberate concealment of pertinent evidence desirable flexibility in administrative procedure does not go so far as to justify orders
of the disappearance is a distinct possibility; the central piece of evidence in an enforced without a basis in evidence having rational probative force.
disappearance—i.e., the corpus delicti or the victim’s body—is usually concealed to
effectively thwart the start of any investigation or the progress of one that may have Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The fair and proper rule is to consider all the pieces
begun. The problem for the victim’s family is the State’s virtual monopoly of access to of evidence adduced in their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible
pertinent evidence. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) observed in the under our usual rules to be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible evidence
landmark case of Velasquez Rodriguez that inherent to the practice of enforced adduced—we reduce our rules to the most basic test of reason, i.e., to the relevance of the
disappearance is the deliberate use of the State’s power to destroy the pertinent evidence. evidence to the issue at hand and its consistency with all other pieces of adduced evidence.—
The IACHR described the concealment as a clear attempt by the State to commit the perfect Velasquez stresses the lesson that flexibility is necessary under the unique circumstances
crime. Third is the element of denial; in many cases, the State authorities deliberately that enforced disappearance cases pose to the courts; to have an effective remedy, the
deny that the enforced disappearance ever occurred. “Deniability” is central to the policy of standard of evidence must be responsive to the evidentiary difficulties faced. On the one
enforced disappearances, as the absence of any proven disappearance makes it easier to hand, we cannot be arbitrary in the admission and appreciation of evidence, as arbitrariness
escape the application of legal standards ensuring the victim’s human rights. Experience entails violation of rights and cannot be used as an effective counter-measure; we only
shows that government officials typically respond to requests for information compound the problem if a wrong is addressed by the commission of another wrong. On the
about desaparecidos by saying that they are not aware of any disappearance, that the other hand, we cannot be very strict in our evidentiary rules and cannot consider evidence
missing people may have fled the country, or that their names have merely been invented. the way we do in the usual criminal and civil cases; precisely, the proceedings before us are
administrative in nature where, as a rule, technical rules of evidence are not strictly
Same; Same; Evidence; Burden of Proof; The characteristics of the Amparo Rule of observed. Thus, while we must follow the substantial evidence rule, we must observe
being summary and the use of substantial evidence as the required level of proof (in contrast flexibility in considering the evidence we shall take into account. The fair and proper rule, to
to the usual preponderance of evidence or proof beyond reasonable doubt in court our mind, is to consider all the pieces of evidence adduced in their totality, and to consider
proceedings)—reveal the clear intent of the framers to have the equivalent of an any evidence otherwise inadmissible under our usual rules to be admissible if it is
administrative proceeding, albeit judicially conducted, in addressing Amparo situations; In consistent with the admissible evidence adduced. In other words, we reduce our rules to
these proceedings, the Amparo petitioner needs only to properly comply with the substance the most basic test of reason—i.e., to the relevance of the evidence to the issue at
and form requirements of a Writ of Amparo petition, as discussed above, and prove the hand and its consistency with all other pieces of adduced evidence. Thus, even
allegations by substantial evidence, and once a rebuttable case has been proven, the hearsay evidence can be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum test.
respondents must then respond and prove their defenses based on the standard of diligence
required.—These characteristics—namely, of being summary and the use of substantial Same; Same; Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
evidence as the required level of proof (in contrast to the usual preponderance of evidence or Disappearance; Elements of Enforced Disappearance.—The Convention defines enforced
proof beyond reasonable doubt in court proceedings)—reveal the clear intent of the framers disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty
of the Amparo Rule to have the equivalent of an administrative proceeding, albeit judicially by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization,
conducted, in addressing Amparo situations. The standard of diligence required—the duty support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of
of public officials and employees to observe extraordinary diligence—point, too, to the liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place
extraordinary measures expected in the protection of constitutional rights and in the such a person outside the protection of the law.” Under this definition, the elements that
consequent handling and investigation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance constitute enforced disappearance are essentially fourfold: (a) arrest, detention,
cases. Thus, in these proceedings, the Amparo petitioner needs only to properly comply with abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty; (b) carried out by agents of the
the substance and form requirements of a Writ of Amparopetition, as discussed above, and State or persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or
prove the allegations by substantial evidence. Once a rebuttable case has been proven, the acquiescence of the State; (c) followed by a refusal to acknowledge the detention, or a
respondents must then respond and prove their defenses based on the standard of diligence concealment of the fate of the disappeared person; and (d) placement of the disappeared
required. The rebuttable case, of course, must show that an enforced disappearance took person outside the protection of the law.
Same; Same; Evidence; Witnesses; As a rule, minor inconsistencies indicate at best haphazard since the authorities were looking for a man whose picture they initially
truthfulness rather than prevarication and only tend to strengthen their probative value, in did not even secure. The returns and reports made to the CA fared no better, as the CIDG
contrast to testimonies from various witnesses dovetailing on every detail — the latter cannot efforts themselves were confined to searching for custodial records of Tagitis in their various
but generate witnesses that the material circumstances they testified to were integral parts of departments and divisions. To point out the obvious, if the abduction of Tagitis was a
a well thought of and prefabricated story.—Upon deeper consideration of these “black” operation because it was unrecorded or officially unauthorized, no record of custody
inconsistencies, however, what appears clear to us is that the petitioners never really would ever appear in the CIDG records; Tagitis, too, would not be detained in the usual
steadfastly disputed or presented evidence to refute the credibility of the respondent and police or CIDG detention places. In sum, none of the reports on record contains any
her witness, Mrs. Talbin. The inconsistencies the petitioners point out relate, more than meaningful results or details on the depth and extent of the investigation
anything else, to details that should not affect the credibility of the respondent and Mrs. made. To be sure, reports of top police officials indicating the personnel and units they
Talbin; the inconsistencies are not on material points. We note, for example, that these directed to investigate can never constitute exhaustive and meaningful investigation, or
witnesses are lay people in so far as military and police matters are concerned, and equal detailed investigative reports of the activities undertaken to search for Tagitis.
confusion between the police and the military is not unusual. As a rule, minor Indisputably, the police authorities from the very beginning failed to come up to the
inconsistencies such as these indicate truthfulness rather than prevarication and only tend extraordinary diligence that the Amparo Rule requires.
to strengthen their probative value, in contrast to testimonies from various witnesses
dovetailing on every detail; the latter cannot but generate suspicion that the material Same; Same; Same; The consistent but unfounded denials and the haphazard
circumstances they testified to were integral parts of a well thought of and prefabricated investigations cannot but point to the conclusion that there was government complicity in the
story. Based on these considerations and the unique evidentiary situation in disappearance, for why would the government and its officials engage in their chorus of
enforced disappearance cases, we hold it duly established that Col. Kasim concealment if the intent had not been to deny what they already knew of the
informed the respondent and her friends, based on the informant’s letter, that disappearance?—Based on these considerations, we conclude that Col. Kasim’s disclosure,
Tagitis, reputedly a liaison for the JI and who had been under surveillance since made in an unguarded moment, unequivocally point to some government complicity in the
January 2007, was “in good hands” and under custodial investigation for disappearance. The consistent but unfounded denials and the haphazard investigations
complicity with the JI after he was seen talking to one Omar Patik and a certain cannot but point to this conclusion. For why would the government and its officials engage
“Santos” of Bulacan, a “Balik Islam” charged with terrorism. The respondent’s and in their chorus of concealment if the intent had not been to deny what they already knew of
Mrs. Talbin’s testimonies cannot simply be defeated by Col. Kasim’s plain denial and his the disappearance? Would not an in-depth and thorough investigation that at least credibly
claim that he had destroyed his informant’s letter, the critical piece of evidence that determined the fate of Tagitis be a feather in the government’s cap under the circumstances
supports or negates the parties’ conflicting claims. Col. Kasim’s admitted destruction of this of the disappearance? From this perspective, the evidence and developments, particularly
letter—effectively, a suppression of this evidence—raises the presumption that the letter, if the Kasim evidence, already establish a concrete case of enforced disappearance that
produced, would be proof of what the respondent claimed. For brevity, we shall call the the Amparo Rule covers. From the prism of the UN Declaration, heretofore cited and
evidence of what Col. Kasim reported to the respondent to be the “Kasim evidence.”615 quoted, the evidence at hand and the developments in this case confirm the fact of the
enforced disappearance and government complicity, under a background of consistent and
Same; Same; Same; The Amparo Rule was not promulgated with the intent to make it unfounded government denials and haphazard handling. The disappearance as well
a token gesture of concern for constitutional rights. It was promulgated to provide effective effectively placed Tagitis outside the protection of the law—a situation that will subsist
and timely remedies, using and profiting from local and international experiences in unless this Court acts.
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, as the situation may require—the Court
has no choice but to meet the evidentiary difficulties inherent in enforced disappearances Same; Same; Same; The Court believes and so holds that the government in general,
with the flexibility that these difficulties demand.—To say that this piece of evidence is through the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detention
incompetent and inadmissible evidence of what it substantively states is to acknowledge— Group (PNP-CIDG), and in particular, the Chiefs of these organizations together with Col.
as the petitioners effectively suggest—that in the absence of any direct evidence, we should Kasim, should be held fully accountable for the enforced disappearance of Tagitis—the Court
simply dismiss the petition. To our mind, an immediate dismissal for this reason is no holds these organizations accountable through their incumbent Chiefs who, under this
different from a statement that the Amparo Rule—despite its terms—is ineffective, as it Decision, shall carry the personal responsibility of seeing to it that extraordinary diligence, in
cannot allow for the special evidentiary difficulties that are unavoidably present the manner the Amparo Rule requires, is applied in addressing the enforced disappearnce of
in Amparo situations, particularly in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Tagitis.—Following the lead of this Turkish experience—adjusted to the Philippine legal
The Amparo Rule was not promulgated with this intent or with the intent to make it a setting and the Amparo remedy this Court has established, as applied to the unique facts
token gesture of concern for constitutional rights. It was promulgated to provide effective and developments of this case—we believe and so hold that the government in general,
and timely remedies, using and profiting from local and international experiences in through the PNP and the PNP-CIDG, and in particular, the Chiefs of these organizations
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, as the situation may require. together with Col. Kasim, should be held fully accountable for the enforced disappearance of
Consequently, we have no choice but to meet the evidentiary difficulties inherent in Tagitis. The PNP and CIDG are accountable because Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6975,
enforced disappearances with the flexibility that these difficulties demand. otherwise known as the “PNP Law,” specifies the PNP as the governmental office with the
mandate “to investigate and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, bring
Same; Same; Same; In sum, none of the reports on record contains any meaningful offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution.” The PNP-CIDG, as Col. Jose Volpane
results or details on the depth and extent of the investigation made—to be sure, reports of top Pante (then Chief of CIDG Region 9) testified, is the “investigative arm” of the PNP and is
police officials indicating the personnel and units they directed to investigate can never mandated to “investigate and prosecute all cases involving violations of the Revised Penal
constitute exhaustive and meaningful investigation, or equal detailed investigative reports of Code, particularly those considered as heinous crimes.” Under the PNP organizational
the activities undertaken to search for the missing subject; Indisputably, the police structure, the PNP-CIDG is tasked to investigate all major crimes involving violations of the
authorities from the very beginning failed to come up to the extraordinary diligence that the Revised Penal Code and operates against organized crime groups, unless the President
Amparo Rule requires.—As the CA found through Task Force Tagitis, the investigation was assigns the case exclusively to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). No indication
exists in this case showing that the President ever directly intervened by assigning the This Decision reflects the nature of the Writ of Amparo – a protective remedy against
investigation of Tagitis’ disappearance exclusively to the NBI. Given their mandates, the violations or threats of violation against the rights to life, liberty and security. 3 It embodies,
PNP and PNP-CIDG officials and members were the ones who were remiss in their duties as a remedy, the court’s directive to police agencies to undertake specified courses of action
when the government completely failed to exercise the extraordinary diligence that to address the disappearance of an individual, in this case, Engr. Morced N. Tagitis. It does
the Amparo Rule requires. We hold these organization accountable through their incumbent not determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the disappearance; rather, it
Chiefs who, under this Decision, shall carry the personal responsibility of seeing to it that determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced disappearance for
extraordinary diligence, in the manner the Amparo Rule requires, is applied in addressing purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address the disappearance. Responsibility
the enforced disappearance of Tagitis. refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial evidence to have
participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a
Same; Same; Same; The Court holds Col. Kasim accountable for his failure to disclose measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the
under oath information relating to the enforced disappearance, and for the purpose of this appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in the proper courts.
accountability, he is impleaded as a party to this case.—We hold Col. Kasim accountable for Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies that should be
his failure to disclose under oath information relating to the enforced disappearance. For addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance without
the purpose of this accountability, we order that Col. Kasim be impleadead as a party to this bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or who are
case. The PNP is similarly held accountable for the suppression of vital information that imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of
Col. Kasim could and did not provide, and, as the entity with direct authority over Col. disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary
Kasim, is held with the same obligation of disclosure that Col. Kasim carries. We shall deal diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. In all these cases, the issuance
with Col. Kasim’s suppression of evidence under oath when we finally close this case under of the Writ of Amparo is justified by our primary goal of addressing the disappearance, so
the process outlined below. that the life of the victim is preserved and his liberty and security are restored.
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
We highlight this nature of a Writ of Amparo case at the outset to stress that the unique
Rogelio T. Linzag for private respondent.
situations that call for the issuance of the writ, as well as the considerations and measures
BRION, J.:
necessary to address these situations, may not at all be the same as the standard measures
and procedures in ordinary court actions and proceedings. In this sense, the Rule on the
We review in this petition for review on certiorari1 the decision dated March 7, 2008 of the Writ of Amparo4 (Amparo Rule) issued by this Court is unique. The Amparo Rule should be
Court of Appeals (CA) in C.A-G.R. AMPARO No. 00009.2 This CA decision confirmed the read, too, as a work in progress, as its directions and finer points remain to evolve through
enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis (Tagitis) and granted the Writ of time and jurisprudence and through the substantive laws that Congress may promulgate.
Amparo at the petition of his wife, Mary Jean B. Tagitis (respondent). The dispositive
portion of the CA decision reads:
THE FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS

WHEREFORE, premises considered, petition is hereby GRANTED. The Court hereby


The background facts, based on the petition and the records of the case, are summarized
FINDS that this is an "enforced disappearance" within the meaning of the United Nations
below.
instruments, as used in the Amparo Rules. The privileges of the writ of amparo are hereby
extended to Engr. Morced Tagitis.
The established facts show that Tagitis, a consultant for the World Bank and the Senior
Honorary Counselor for the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Scholarship Programme, was
Consequently: (1) respondent GEN. EDGARDO M. DOROMAL, Chief, Criminal
last seen in Jolo, Sulu. Together with Arsimin Kunnong (Kunnong), an IDB scholar, Tagitis
Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) who should order COL. JOSE VOLPANE
arrived in Jolo by boat in the early morning of October 31, 2007 from a seminar in
PANTE, CIDG-9 Chief, Zamboanga City, to aid him; (2) respondent GEN. AVELINO I.
Zamboanga City. They immediately checked-in at ASY Pension House. Tagitis asked
RAZON, Chief, PNP, who should order his men, namely: (a) respondent GEN. JOEL
Kunnong to buy him a boat ticket for his return trip the following day to Zamboanga. When
GOLTIAO, Regional Director of ARMM PNP, (b) COL. AHIRON AJIRIM, both head of
Kunnong returned from this errand, Tagitis was no longer around. 5 The receptionist related
TASK FORCE TAGITIS, and (c) respondent SR. SUPERINTENDENT LEONARDO A.
that Tagitis went out to buy food at around 12:30 in the afternoon and even left his room
ESPINA, Chief, Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response, to aid him as their superior-
key with the desk.6 Kunnong looked for Tagitis and even sent a text message to the latter’s
are hereby DIRECTED to exert extraordinary diligence and efforts, not only to protect the
Manila-based secretary who did not know of Tagitis’ whereabouts and activities either; she
life, liberty and security of Engr. Morced Tagitis, but also to extend the privileges of the writ
advised Kunnong to simply wait.7
of amparo to Engr. Morced Tagitis and his family, and to submit a monthly report of their
actions to this Court, as a way of PERIODIC REVIEW to enable this Court to monitor the
action of respondents. On November 4, 2007, Kunnong and Muhammad Abdulnazeir N. Matli, a UP professor of
Muslim studies and Tagitis’ fellow student counselor at the IDB, reported Tagitis’
disappearance to the Jolo Police Station.8 On November 7, 2007, Kunnong executed a sworn
This amparo case is hereby DISMISSED as to respondent LT. GEN. ALEXANDER YANO,
affidavit attesting to what he knew of the circumstances surrounding Tagitis’
Commanding General, Philippine Army, and as to respondent GEN. RUBEN RAFAEL,
disappearance.9
Chief Anti-Terror Task Force Comet, Zamboanga City, both being with the military, which
is a separate and distinct organization from the police and the CIDG, in terms of operations,
chain of command and budget. More than a month later (on December 28, 2007), the respondent filed a Petition for the
Writ of Amparo (petition) with the CA through her Attorney-in-Fact, Atty. Felipe P.
Arcilla.10 The petition was directed against Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano, Commanding General, City, being held against his will in an earnest attempt of the police to involve and connect
Philippine Army; Gen. Avelino I. Razon, Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP); Gen. Engr. Tagitis with the different terrorist groups;
Edgardo M. Doromal, Chief, Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG); Sr. Supt.
Leonardo A. Espina, Chief, Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response; Gen. Joel Goltiao,
xxxx
Regional Director, ARMM-PNP; and Gen. Ruben Rafael, Chief, Anti-Terror Task Force
Comet [collectively referred to as petitioners]. After reciting Tagitis’ personal circumstances
and the facts outlined above, the petition went on to state: 17. [Respondent] filed her complaint with the PNP Police Station in the ARMM in Cotobato
and in Jolo, as suggested by her friends, seeking their help to find her husband, but
[respondent’s] request and pleadings failed to produce any positive results;
xxxx

18. Instead of helping the [respondent], she [sic] was told of an intriguing tale by the police
7. Soon after the student left the room, Engr. Tagitis went out of the pension house to take
that her husband, subject of the petition, was not missing but was with another woman
his early lunch but while out on the street, a couple of burly men believed to be police
having good time somewhere, which is a clear indication of the [petitioners’] refusal to help
intelligence operatives, forcibly took him and boarded the latter on a motor vehicle then
and provide police assistance in locating her missing husband;
sped away without the knowledge of his student, Arsimin Kunnong;

19. The continued failure and refusal of the [petitioners] to release and/or turn-over subject
8. As instructed, in the late afternoon of the same day, Kunnong returned to the pension
Engr. Tagitis to his family or even to provide truthful information to [the respondent] of the
house, and was surprised to find out that subject Engr. Tagitis cannot [sic] be contacted by
subject’s whereabouts, and/or allow [the respondent] to visit her husband Engr. Morced
phone and was not also around and his room was closed and locked;
Tagitis, caused so much sleepless nights and serious anxieties;

9. Kunnong requested for the key from the desk of the pension house who [sic] assisted him
20. Lately, [the respondent] was again advised by one of the [petitioners] to go to the ARMM
to open the room of Engr. Tagitis, where they discovered that the personal belongings of
Police Headquarters again in Cotobato City and also to the different Police Headquarters
Engr. Tagitis, including cell phones, documents and other personal belongings were all
including [those] in Davao City, in Zamboanga City, in Jolo, and in Camp Crame, Quezon
intact inside the room;
City, and all these places have been visited by the [respondent] in search for her husband,
which entailed expenses for her trips to these places thereby resorting her to borrowings
10. When Kunnong could not locate Engr. Tagitis, the former sought the help of another and beggings [sic] for financial help from friends and relatives only to try complying [sic] to
IDB scholar and reported the matter to the local police agency; the different suggestions of these police officers, despite of which, her efforts produced no
positive results up to the present time;
11. Arsimin Kunnong including his friends and companions in Jolo, exerted efforts in trying
to locate the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis and when he reported the matter to the police 21. In fact at times, some police officers, who [sympathized with] the sufferings undergone
authorities in Jolo, he was immediately given a ready answer that Engr. Tagitis could have by the [respondent], informed her that they are not the proper persons that she should
been abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group and other groups known to be fighting against the approach, but assured her not to worry because her husband is [sic] in good hands;
government;
22. The unexplained uncooperative behavior of the [petitioners] to the [respondent’s] request
12. Being scared with [sic] these suggestions and insinuations of the police officers, for help and failure and refusal of the [petitioners] to extend the needed help, support and
Kunnong reported the matter to the [respondent, wife of Engr. Tagitis] by phone and other assistance in locating the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis who had been declared missing since
responsible officers and coordinators of the IDB Scholarship Programme in the Philippines, October 30, 2007 which is almost two (2) months now, clearly indicates that the [petitioners]
who alerted the office of the Governor of ARMM who was then preparing to attend the OIC are actually in physical possession and custody of [respondent’s] husband, Engr. Tagitis;
meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;
xxxx
13. [Respondent], on the other hand, approached some of her co-employees with the Land
Bank in Digos branch, Digos City, Davao del Sur who likewise sought help from some of
25. [The respondent] has exhausted all administrative avenues and remedies but to no
their friends in the military who could help them find/locate the whereabouts of her
avail, and under the circumstances, [the respondent] has no other plain, speedy and
husband;
adequate remedy to protect and get the release of subject Engr. Morced Tagitis from the
illegal clutches of the [petitioners], their intelligence operatives and the like which are in
14. All of these efforts of the [respondent] did not produce any positive results except the total violation of the subject’s human and constitutional rights, except the issuance of
information from persons in the military who do not want to be identified that Engr. Tagitis a WRIT OF AMPARO. [Emphasis supplied]
is in the hands of the uniformed men;
On the same day the petition was filed, the CA immediately issued the Writ of Amparo, set
15. According to reliable information received by the [respondent], subject Engr. Tagitis is in the case for hearing on January 7, 2008, and directed the petitioners to file their verified
the custody of police intelligence operatives, specifically with the CIDG, PNP Zamboanga return within seventy-two (72) hours from service of the writ.11
In their verified Return filed during the hearing of January 27, 2008, the petitioners denied That immediately upon receipt on December 29, 2007 of the Resolution of the Honorable Special Fourth
any involvement in or knowledge of Tagitis’ alleged abduction. They argued that the Division of the Court of Appeals, I immediately directed the Investigation Division of this Group [CIDG]
to conduct urgent investigation on the alleged enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced Tagitis.
allegations of the petition were incomplete and did not constitute a cause of action against
them; were baseless, or at best speculative; and were merely based on hearsay evidence. 12
That based on record, Engr. Morced N. Tagitis attended an Education Development Seminar on October
28, 2007 at Ateneo de Zamboanga at Zamboanga City together with Prof. Abdulnasser Matli. On October
The affidavit of PNP Chief Gen. Avelino I. Razon, attached to the Return, stated that: he did 30, 2007, at around six o’clock in the morning he arrived at Jolo, Sulu. He was assisted by his student
not have any personal knowledge of, or any participation in, the alleged disappearance; that identified as Arsimin Kunnong of the Islamic Development Bank who was also one of the participants of
he had been designated by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the head of a special body the said seminar. He checked in at ASY pension house located [sic] Kakuyagan, Patikul, Sulu on October
called TASK FORCE USIG, to address concerns about extralegal killings and enforced 30, 2007 with [sic] unidentified companion. At around six o’clock in the morning of even date, Engr.
disappearances; the Task Force, inter alia, coordinated with the investigators and local Tagitis instructed his student to purchase a fast craft ticket for Zamboanga City. In the afternoon of the
police, held case conferences, rendered legal advice in connection to these cases; and gave same date, Kunnong arrived at the pension house carrying the ticket he purchased for Engr. Tagitis, but
the latter was nowhere to be found anymore. Kunnong immediately informed Prof. Abdulnasser Matli
the following summary:13 who reported the incident to the police. The CIDG is not involved in the disappearance of Engr. Morced
Tagitis to make out a case of an enforced disappearance which presupposes a direct or indirect
4. involvement of the government.

a) On November 5, 2007, the Regional Director, Police Regional Office ARMM submitted a report on That herein [petitioner] searched all divisions and departments for a person named Engr. Morced N.
the alleged disappearance of one Engr. Morced Tagitis. According to the said report, the victim Tagitis, who was allegedly abducted or illegally detained by covert CIDG-PNP Intelligence Operatives
checked-in at ASY Pension House on October 30, 2007 at about 6:00 in the morning and then roamed since October 30, 2007 and after a diligent and thorough research records show that no such person is
around Jolo, Sulu with an unidentified companion. It was only after a few days when the said victim being detained in CIDG or any of its department or divisions.
did not return that the matter was reported to Jolo MPS. Afterwards, elements of Sulu PPO
conducted a thorough investigation to trace and locate the whereabouts of the said missing person,
That nevertheless, in order to determine the circumstances surrounding Engr. Morced
but to no avail. The said PPO is still conducting investigation that will lead to the immediate
findings of the whereabouts of the person.
Tagitis [sic] alleged enforced disappearance, the undersigned had undertaken immediate
investigation and will pursue investigations up to its full completion in order to aid in the
prosecution of the person or persons responsible therefore.
b) Likewise, the Regional Chief, 9RCIDU submitted a Progress Report to the Director, CIDG. The
said report stated among others that: subject person attended an Education Development Seminar
set on October 28, 2007 conducted at Ateneo de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City together with a Prof. Likewise attached to the Return of the Writ was PNP-PACER15 Chief PS Supt. Leonardo A.
Matli. On October 30, 2007, at around 5:00 o’clock in the morning, Engr. Tagitis reportedly arrived at Espina’s affidavit which alleged that:16
Jolo Sulu wharf aboard M/V Bounty Cruise, he was then billeted at ASY Pension House. At about
6:15 o’clock in the morning of the same date, he instructed his student to purchase a fast craft ticket
bound for Zamboanga City and will depart from Jolo, Sulu on October 31, 2007. That on or about xxxx
10:00 o’clock in the morning, Engr. Tagitis left the premises of ASY Pension House as stated by the
cashier of the said pension house. Later in the afternoon, the student instructed to purchase the
ticket arrived at the pension house and waited for Engr. Tagitis, but the latter did not return. On its That, I and our men and women in PACER vehemently deny any participation in the alleged abduction
part, the elements of 9RCIDU is now conducting a continuous case build up and information or illegally [sic] detention of ENGR. MORCED N. TAGITS on October 30, 2007. As a matter of fact,
gathering to locate the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis. nowhere in the writ was mentioned that the alleged abduction was perpetrated by elements of PACER
nor was there any indication that the alleged abduction or illegal detention of ENGR. TAGITIS was
undertaken jointly by our men and by the alleged covert CIDG-PNP intelligence operatives alleged to
c) That the Director, CIDG directed the conduct of the search in all divisions of the CIDG to find have abducted or illegally detained ENGR. TAGITIS.
Engr. Tagitis who was allegedly abducted or illegally detained by covert CIDG-PNP Intelligence
Operatives since October 30, 2007, but after diligent and thorough search, records show that no such
person is being detained in CIDG or any of its department or divisions. That I was shocked when I learned that I was implicated in the alleged disappearance of ENGR.
MORCED in my capacity as the chief PACER [sic] considering that our office, the Police Anti-Crime and
Emergency Response (PACER), a special task force created for the purpose of neutralizing or eradicating
5. On this particular case, the Philippine National Police exhausted all possible efforts, kidnap-for-ransom groups which until now continue to be one of the menace of our society is a respondent
steps and actions available under the circumstances and continuously search and in kidnapping or illegal detention case. Simply put, our task is to go after kidnappers and charge them in
court and to abduct or illegally detain or kidnap anyone is anathema to our mission.
investigate [sic] the instant case. This immense mandate, however, necessitates the
indispensable role of the citizenry, as the PNP cannot stand alone without the cooperation of
the victims and witnesses to identify the perpetrators to bring them before the bar of justice That right after I learned of the receipt of the WRIT OF AMPARO, I directed the Chief of PACER
and secure their conviction in court. Mindanao Oriental (PACER-MOR) to conduct pro-active measures to investigate, locate/search the
subject, identify and apprehend the persons responsible, to recover and preserve evidence related to the
disappearance of ENGR. MORCED TAGITIS, which may aid in the prosecution of the person or persons
The petitioner PNP-CIDG Chief, Gen. Edgardo M. Doromal, submitted as well his affidavit, responsible, to identify witnesses and obtain statements from them concerning the disappearance and to
also attached to the Return of the Writ, attesting that upon receipt of the Writ of Amparo, determine the cause, manner, location and time of disappearance as well as any pattern or practice that
he caused the following:14 may have brought about the disappearance.

That I further directed the chief of PACER-MOR, Police Superintendent JOSE ARNALDO BRIONES
xxxx
JR., to submit a written report regarding the disappearance of ENGR. MORCED.
That in compliance with my directive, the chief of PACER-MOR sent through fax his written report. a) Radio Message Cite No. RIDMD-1122-07-358 dated November 22, 2007 directing PD Sulu PPO to
conduct joint investigation with CIDG and CIDU ARMM on the matter;

That the investigation and measures being undertaken to locate/search the subject in coordination with
Police Regional Office, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (PRO-ARMM) and Jolo Police Provincial b) Radio Message Cite No. RIDMD-1128-07-361 dated November 28, 2007 directing PD Sulu PPO to
Office (PPO) and other AFP and PNP units/agencies in the area are ongoing with the instruction not to expedite compliance to my previous directive;
leave any stone unturned so to speak in the investigation until the perpetrators in the instant case are
brought to the bar of justice.
c) Memorandum dated December 14, 2007 addressed to PD Sulu PPO reiterating our series of
directives for investigation and directing him to undertake exhaustive coordination efforts with the
That I have exercised EXTRAORDINARY DILIGENCE in dealing with the WRIT OF AMPARO just owner of ASY Pension House and student scholars of IDB in order to secure corroborative statements
issued. regarding the disappearance and whereabouts of said personality;

Finally, the PNP PRO ARMM Regional Director PC Supt. Joel R. Goltiao (Gen. Goltiao), also submitted d) Memorandum dated December 24, 2007 addressed to PD Sulu PPO directing him to maximize
his affidavit detailing the actions that he had taken upon receipt of the report on Tagitis’ disappearance, efforts to establish clues on the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis by seeking the cooperation of Prof.
viz:17 Abdulnasser Matli and Arsimin Kunnong and/or whenever necessary, for them to voluntarily submit
for polygraph examination with the NBI so as to expunge all clouds of doubt that they may somehow
have knowledge or idea to his disappearance;
xxxx
e) Memorandum dated December 27, 2007 addressed to the Regional Chief, Criminal Investigation
3) For the record: and Detection Group, Police Regional Office 9, Zamboanga City, requesting assistance to investigate
the cause and unknown disappearance of Engr. Tagitis considering that it is within their area of
operational jurisdiction;
1. I am the Regional Director of Police Regional Office ARMM now and during the time of the incident;

f) Memorandum from Chief, Intelligence Division, PRO ARMM dated December 30, 2007 addressed
xxxx
to PD Sulu PPO requiring them to submit complete investigation report regarding the case of Engr.
Tagitis;
4. It is my duty to look into and take appropriate measures on any cases of reported enforced
disappearances and when they are being alluded to my office; 10. In compliance to our directives, PD Sulu PPO has exerted his [sic] efforts to conduct investigation
[sic] on the matter to determine the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis and the circumstances related to his
5. On November 5, 2007, the Provincial Director of Sulu Police Provincial Office reported to me through disappearance and submitted the following:
Radio Message Cite No. SPNP3-1105-07-2007 that on November 4, 2007 at around 3:30 p.m., a certain
Abdulnasser Matli, an employee of Islamic Development Bank, appeared before the Office of the Chief of a) Progress Report dated November 6, 2007 through Radio Message Cite No. SPNP3-1106-10-2007;
Police, Jolo Police Station, and reported the disappearance of Engr. Morced Tagitis, scholarship
coordinator of Islamic Development Bank, Manila;
b) Radio Message Cite No. SPIDMS-1205-47-07 informing this office that they are still monitoring
the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis;
6. There was no report that Engr. Tagibis was last seen in the company of or taken by any member of the
Philippine National Police but rather he just disappeared from ASY Pension House situated at
Kakuyagan Village, Village, Patikul, Sulu, on October 30, 2007, without any trace of forcible abduction or c) Investigation Report dated December 31, 2007 from the Chief of Police, Jolo Police Station, Sulu
arrest; PPO;

7. The last known instance of communication with him was when Arsimin Kunnong, a student scholar, 11. This incident was properly reported to the PNP Higher Headquarters as shown in the following:
was requested by him to purchase a vessel ticket at the Office of Weezam Express, however, when the
student returned back to ASY Pension House, he no longer found Engr. Tagitis there and when he
immediately inquired at the information counter regarding his whereabouts [sic], the person in charge in a) Memorandum dated November 6, 2007 addressed to the Chief, PNP informing him of the facts of
the counter informed him that Engr. Tagitis had left the premises on October 30, 2007 around 1 o’clock the disappearance and the action being taken by our office;
p.m. and never returned back to his room;
b) Memorandum dated November 6, 2007 addressed to the Director, Directorate for Investigation
8. Immediately after learning the incident, I called and directed the Provincial Director of Sulu Police and Detection Management, NHQ PNP;
Provincial Office and other units through phone call and text messages to conduct investigation [sic] to
determine the whereabouts of the aggrieved party and the person or persons responsible for the threat, c) Memorandum dated December 30, 2007 addressed to the Director, DIDM;
act or omission, to recover and preserve evidence related to the disappearance of Engr. Tagitis, to identify
witnesses and obtain statements from them concerning his disappearance, to determine the cause and
manner of his disappearance, to identify and apprehend the person or persons involved in the 4) In spite of our exhaustive efforts, the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis cannot be determined but our office
disappearance so that they shall be brought before a competent court; is continuously intensifying the conduct of information gathering, monitoring and coordination for the
immediate solution of the case.
9. Thereafter, through my Chief of the Regional Investigation and Detection Management Division, I
have caused the following directives:
Since the disappearance of Tagistis was practically admitted and taking note of favorable actions so far On February 4, 2008, the CA issued an ALARM WARNING that Task Force Tagitis did not
taken on the disappearance, the CA directed Gen. Goltiao – as the officer in command of the area of appear to be exerting extraordinary efforts in resolving Tagitis’ disappearance on the
disappearance – to form TASK FORCE TAGITIS.18
following grounds:28

Task Force Tagitis


(1) This Court FOUND that it was only as late as January 28, 2008, after the hearing, that GEN.
JOEL GOLTIAO and COL. AHIRON AJIRIM had requested for clear photographs when it should
On January 11, 2008, Gen. Goltiao designated PS Supt. Ahiron Ajirim (PS Supt. Ajirim) to head TASK have been standard operating procedure in kidnappings or disappearances that the first agenda was
FORCE TAGITIS.19 The CA subsequently set three hearings to monitor whether TASK FORCE TAGITIS for the police to secure clear pictures of the missing person, Engr. Morced Tagitis, for dissemination
was exerting "extraordinary efforts" in handling the disappearance of Tagitis. 20 As planned, (1) the first to all parts of the country and to neighboring countries. It had been three (3) months since GEN.
hearing would be to mobilize the CIDG, Zamboanga City; (2) the second hearing would be to mobilize JOEL GOLTIAO admitted having been informed on November 5, 2007 of the alleged abduction of
intelligence with Abu Sayyaf and ARMM; and (3) the third hearing would be to mobilize the Chief of Engr. Morced Tagitis by alleged bad elements of the CIDG. It had been more than one (1) month
Police of Jolo, Sulu and the Chief of Police of Zamboanga City and other police operatives. 21 since the Writ of Amparo had been issued on December 28, 2007. It had been three (3) weeks when
battle formation was ordered through Task Force Tagitis, on January 17, 2008. It was only on
January 28, 2008 when the Task Force Tagitis requested for clear and recent photographs of the
In the hearing on January 17, 2008, TASK FORCE TAGITIS submitted to the CA an intelligence report missing person, Engr. Morced Tagitis, despite the Task Force Tagitis’ claim that they already had an
from PSL Usman S. Pingay, the Chief of Police of the Jolo Police Station, stating a possible motive for "all points bulletin", since November 5, 2007, on the missing person, Engr. Morced Tagitis. How
Tagitis’ disappearance.22 The intelligence report was apparently based on the sworn affidavit dated could the police look for someone who disappeared if no clear photograph had been disseminated?
January 4, 2008 of Muhammad Abdulnazeir N. Matli (Prof. Matli), Professor of Islamic Studies at the
University of the Philippines and an Honorary Student Counselor of the IDB Scholarship Program in the
Philippines, who told the Provincial Governor of Sulu that: 23 (2) Furthermore, Task Force Tagitis’ COL. AHIROM AJIRIM informed this Court that P/Supt
KASIM was designated as Col. Ahirom Ajirim’s replacement in the latter’s official designated post.
Yet, P/Supt KASIM’s subpoena was returned to this Court unserved. Since this Court was made to
[Based] on reliable information from the Office of Muslim Affairs in Manila, Tagitis has reportedly taken understand that it was P/Supt KASIM who was the petitioner’s unofficial source of the military
and carried away… more or less Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00) deposited and entrusted to his … intelligence information that Engr. Morced Tagitis was abducted by bad elements of the CIDG (par.
[personal] bank accounts by the Central Office of IDB, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which [was] 15 of the Petition), the close contact between P/Supt KASIM and Col. Ahirom Ajirim of TASK
intended for the … IDB Scholarship Fund. FORCE TAGITIS should have ensured the appearance of Col. KASIM in response to this court’s
subpoena and COL. KASIM could have confirmed the military intelligence information that bad
elements of the CIDG had abducted Engr. Morced Tagitis.
In the same hearing, PS Supt. Ajirim testified that since the CIDG was alleged to be responsible, he
personally went to the CIDG office in Zamboanga City to conduct an ocular inspection/investigation,
particularly of their detention cells.24 PS Supt. Ajirim stated that the CIDG, while helping TASK FORCE Testimonies for the Respondent
TAGITIS investigate the disappearance of Tagitis, persistently denied any knowledge or complicity in
any abduction.25 He further testified that prior to the hearing, he had already mobilized and given
specific instructions to their supporting units to perform their respective tasks; that they even talked to, On January 7, 2008, the respondent, Mary Jean B. Tagitis, testified on direct examination
but failed to get any lead from the respondent in Jolo.26 In his submitted investigation report dated that she went to Jolo and Zamboanga in her efforts to locate her husband. She said that a
January 16, 2008, PS Supt. Ajirim concluded:27 friend from Zamboanga holding a high position in the military (whom she did not then
identify) gave her information that allowed her to "specify" her allegations, "particularly
9. Gleaned from the undersigned inspection and observation at the Headquarters 9 RCIDU and the paragraph 15 of the petition."29 This friend also told her that her husband "[was] in good
documents at hand, it is my own initial conclusion that the 9RCIDU and other PNP units in the area had hands."30 The respondent also testified that she sought the assistance of her former boss in
no participation neither [sic] something to do with [sic] mysterious disappearance of Engr. Morced Tagitis Davao City, Land Bank Bajada Branch Manager Rudy Salvador, who told her that "PNP
last October 30, 2007. Since doubt has been raised regarding the emolument on the Islamic Development CIDG is holding [her husband], Engineer Morced Tagitis."31 The respondent recounted that
Bank Scholar program of IDB that was reportedly deposited in the personal account of Engr. Tagitis by
she went to Camp Katitipan in Davao City where she met Col. Julasirim Ahadin Kasim
the IDB central office in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Secondly, it could might [sic] be done by
resentment or sour grape among students who are applying for the scholar [sic] and were denied which (Col. Kasim/Sr. Supt Kasim) who read to her and her friends (who were then with her) a
was allegedly conducted/screened by the subject being the coordinator of said program. "highly confidential report" that contained the "alleged activities of Engineer Tagitis" and
informed her that her husband was abducted because "he is under custodial investigation"
for being a liaison for "J.I. or Jema’ah Islamiah."32
20. It is also premature to conclude but it does or it may and [sic] presumed that the motive behind the
disappearance of the subject might be due to the funds he maliciously spent for his personal interest and
wanted to elude responsibilities from the institution where he belong as well as to the Islamic student On January 17, 2008, the respondent on cross-examination testified that she is Tagitis’
scholars should the statement of Prof. Matli be true or there might be a professional jealousy among second wife, and they have been married for thirteen years; Tagitis was divorced from his
them.
first wife.33 She last communicated with her husband on October 29, 2007 at around 7:31
p.m. through text messaging; Tagitis was then on his way to Jolo, Sulu, from Zamboanga
xxxx City.34

It is recommended that the Writ of Amparo filed against the respondents be dropped and The respondent narrated that she learned of her husband’s disappearance on October 30,
dismissed considering on [sic] the police and military actions in the area particularly the 2007 when her stepdaughter, Zaynah Tagitis (Zaynah), informed her that she had not heard
CIDG are exerting their efforts and religiously doing their tasked [sic] in the conduct of its from her father since the time they arranged to meet in Manila on October 31, 2007.35 The
intelligence monitoring and investigation for the early resolution of this instant case. But respondent explained that it took her a few days (or on November 5, 2007) to personally ask
rest assured, our office, in coordination with other law-enforcement agencies in the area, are Kunnong to report her husband’s disappearance to the Jolo Police Station, since she had the
continuously and religiously conducting our investigation for the resolution of this case. impression that her husband could not communicate with her because his cellular phone’s
battery did not have enough power, and that he would call her when he had fully-charged I appreciate the effort of Col. Ancanan on trying to solve the case of my husband Engr.
his cellular phone’s battery.36 Morced Tagitis, yet failed to do so.

The respondent also identified the high-ranking military friend, who gave her the The respondent also narrated her encounter with Col. Kasim, as follows: 41
information found in paragraph 15 of her petition, as Lt. Col. Pedro L. Ancanan, Jr (Col.
Ancanan). She met him in Camp Karingal, Zamboanga through her boss.37 She also testified
On November 7, 2007, I went to Land Bank of the Philippines, Bajada Branch, Davao City
that she was with three other people, namely, Mrs. Marydel Martin Talbin and her two
to meet Mr. Rudy Salvador. I told him that my husband, Engineer Morced Tagitis was
friends from Mati City, Davao Oriental, when Col. Kasim read to them the contents of the
presumed to be abducted in Jolo, Sulu on October 30, 2007. I asked him a favor to contact
"highly confidential report" at Camp Katitipan, Davao City. The respondent further
his connections in the military in Jolo, Sulu where the abduction of Engr. Tagitis took place.
narrated that the report indicated that her husband met with people belonging to a terrorist
Mr. Salvador immediately called up Camp Katitipan located in Davao City looking for high-
group and that he was under custodial investigation. She then told Col. Kasim that her
ranking official who can help me gather reliable information behind the abduction of subject
husband was a diabetic taking maintenance medication, and asked that the Colonel relay to
Engineer Tagitis.
the persons holding him the need to give him his medication.38

On that same day, Mr. Salvador and my friend, Anna Mendoza, Executive Secretary,
On February 11, 2008, TASK FORCE TAGITIS submitted two narrative reports, 39 signed by
accompanied me to Camp Katitipan to meet Col. Kasim. Mr. Salvador introduced me to Col.
the respondent, detailing her efforts to locate her husband which led to her meetings with
Kasim and we had a short conversation. And he assured me that he’ll do the best he can to
Col. Ancanan of the Philippine Army and Col. Kasim of the PNP. In her narrative report
help me find my husband.
concerning her meeting with Col. Ancanan, the respondent recounted, viz:40

After a few weeks, Mr. Salvador called me up informing me up informing me that I am to go


On November 11, 2007, we went to Zamboanga City with my friend Mrs. Marydel Talbin.
to Camp Katitipan to meet Col. Kasim for he has an urgent, confidential information to
Our flight from Davao City is 9:00 o’clock in the morning; we arrived at Zamboanga Airport
reveal.
at around 10:00 o’clock. We [were] fetched by the two staffs of Col. Ancanan. We
immediately proceed [sic] to West Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM).
On November 24, 2007, we went back to Camp Katitipan with my three friends. That was
the time that Col. Kasim read to us the confidential report that Engr. Tagitis was allegedly
On that same day, we had private conversation with Col. Ancanan. He interviewed me and
connected [with] different terrorist [groups], one of which he mentioned in the report was
got information about the personal background of Engr. Morced N. Tagitis. After he
OMAR PATIK and a certain SANTOS - a Balik Islam.
gathered all information, he revealed to us the contents of text messages they got from the
cellular phone of the subject Engr. Tagitis. One of the very important text messages of Engr.
Tagitis sent to his daughter Zaynah Tagitis was that she was not allowed to answer any It is also said that Engr. Tagitis is carrying boxes of medicines for the injured terrorists as a
telephone calls in his condominium unit. supplier. These are the two information that I can still remember. It was written in a long
bond paper with PNP Letterhead. It was not shown to us, yet Col. Kasim was the one who
read it for us.
While we were there he did not tell us any information of the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis.
After the said meeting with Col. Ancanan, he treated us as guests to the city. His two staffs
accompanied us to the mall to purchase our plane ticket going back to Davao City on He asked a favor to me that "Please don’t quote my Name! Because this is a raw report." He
November 12, 2007. assured me that my husband is alive and he is in the custody of the military for custodial
investigation. I told him to please take care of my husband because he has aliments and he
recently took insulin for he is a diabetic patient.
When we arrived in Davao City on November 12, 2007 at 9:00 in the morning, Col. Ancanan
and I were discussing some points through phone calls. He assured me that my husband is
alive and he’s last looked [sic] in Talipapao, Jolo, Sulu. Yet I did not believe his given In my petition for writ of amparo, I emphasized the information that I got from Kasim.
statements of the whereabouts of my husband, because I contacted some of my friends who
have access to the groups of MILF, MNLF and ASG. I called up Col. Ancanan several times On February 11, 2008, the respondent presented Mrs. Marydel Martin Talbin (Mrs. Talbin)
begging to tell me the exact location of my husband and who held him but he refused. to corroborate her testimony regarding her efforts to locate her husband, in relation
particularly with the information she received from Col. Kasim. Mrs. Talbin testified that
While I was in Jolo, Sulu on November 30, 2007, I called him up again because the PNP, she was with the respondent when she went to Zamboanga to see Col. Ancanan, and to
Jolo did not give me any information of the whereabouts of my husband. Col. Ancanan told Davao City at Camp Katitipan to meet Col. Kasim.42
me that "Sana ngayon alam mo na kung saan ang kinalalagyan ng asawa mo." When I was
in Zamboanga, I was thinking of dropping by the office of Col. Ancanan, but I was hesitant In Zamboanga, Mrs. Talbin recounted that they met with Col. Ancanan, who told them that
to pay him a visit for the reason that the Chief of Police of Jolo told me not to contact any there was a report and that he showed them a series of text messages from Tagitis’ cellular
AFP officials and he promised me that he can solve the case of my husband (Engr. Tagitis) phone, which showed that Tagitis and his daughter would meet in Manila on October 30,
within nine days. 2007.43
She further narrated that sometime on November 24, 2007, she went with the respondent allegation that 9 RCIDU personnel were involved in the disappearance of Tagitis was
together with two other companions, namely, Salvacion Serrano and Mini Leong, to Camp baseless, since they did not conduct any operation in Jolo, Sulu before or after Tagitis’
Katitipan to talk to Col. Kasim.44 The respondent asked Col. Kasim if he knew the exact reported disappearance.67 Col. Pante added that the four (4) personnel assigned to the Sulu
location of Engr. Tagitis. Col. Kasim told them that Tagitis was in good hands, although he CIDT had no capability to conduct any "operation," since they were only assigned to
was not certain whether he was with the PNP or with the Armed Forces of the Philippines investigate matters and to monitor the terrorism situation.68 He denied that his office
(AFP). She further recounted that based on the report Col. Kasim read in their presence, conducted any surveillance on Tagitis prior to the latter’s disappearance. 69 Col. Pante
Tagitis was under custodial investigation because he was being charged with terrorism; further testified that his investigation of Tagitis’ disappearance was unsuccessful; the
Tagitis in fact had been under surveillance since January 2007 up to the time he was investigation was "still facing a blank wall" on the whereabouts of Tagitis.70
abducted when he was seen talking to Omar Patik and a certain Santos of Bulacan, a "Balik
Islam" charged with terrorism. Col. Kasim also told them that he could not give a copy of
THE CA RULING
the report because it was a "raw report."45 She also related that the Col. Kasim did not tell
them exactly where Tagitis was being kept, although he mentioned Talipapao, Sulu.Prof.,
lalabas din yan."50 Prof. Matli also emphasized that despite what his January 4, 2008 On March 7, 2008, the CA issued its decision71 confirming that the disappearance of Tagitis
affidavit indicated,51 he never told PS Supt. Pingay, or made any accusation, that Tagitis was an "enforced disappearance" under the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the
took away money entrusted to him.52 Prof. Matli confirmed, however, that that he had Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. 72 The CA ruled that when military
received an e-mail report53 from Nuraya Lackian of the Office of Muslim Affairs in Manila intelligence pinpointed the investigative arm of the PNP (CIDG) to be involved in the
that the IDB was seeking assistance of the office in locating the funds of IDB scholars abduction, the missing-person case qualified as an enforced disappearance. The conclusion
deposited in Tagitis’ personal account.54 that the CIDG was involved was based on the respondent’s testimony, corroborated by her
companion, Mrs. Talbin. The CA noted that the information that the CIDG, as the police
intelligence arm, was involved in Tagitis’ abduction came from no less than the military –
On cross-examination by the respondent’s counsel, Prof. Matli testified that his January 4,
an independent agency of government. The CA thus greatly relied on the "raw report" from
2008 affidavit was already prepared when PS Supt. Pingay asked him to sign it. 55 Prof Matli
Col. Kasim’s asset, pointing to the CIDG’s involvement in Tagitis’ abduction. The CA held
clarified that although he read the affidavit before signing it, he "was not so much aware
that "raw reports" from an "asset" carried "great weight" in the intelligence world. It also
of… [its] contents."56
labeled as "suspect" Col. Kasim’s subsequent and belated retraction of his statement that
the military, the police, or the CIDG was involved in the abduction of Tagitis.
On February 11, 2008, the petitioners presented Col. Kasim to rebut material portions of
the respondent’s testimony, particularly the allegation that he had stated that Tagitis was
The CA characterized as "too farfetched and unbelievable" and "a bedlam of speculation"
in the custody of either the military or the PNP.57 Col. Kasim categorically denied the
police theories painting the disappearance as "intentional" on the part of Tagitis. He had no
statements made by the respondent in her narrative report, specifically: (1) that Tagitis was
previous brushes with the law or any record of overstepping the bounds of any trust
seen carrying boxes of medicines as supplier for the injured terrorists; (2) that Tagitis was
regarding money entrusted to him; no student of the IDB scholarship program ever came
under the custody of the military, since he merely said to the respondent that "your
forward to complain that he or she did not get his or her stipend. The CA also found no basis
husband is in good hands" and is "probably taken cared of by his armed abductors;" and (3)
for the police theory that Tagitis was "trying to escape from the clutches of his second wife,"
that Tagitis was under custodial investigation by the military, the PNP or the CIDG
on the basis of the respondent’s testimony that Tagitis was a Muslim who could have many
Zamboanga City.58 Col. Kasim emphasized that the "informal letter" he received from his
wives under the Muslim faith, and that there was "no issue" at all when the latter divorced
informant in Sulu did not indicate that Tagitis was in the custody of the CIDG. 59 He also
his first wife in order to marry the second. Finally, the CA also ruled out kidnapping for
stressed that the information he provided to the respondent was merely a "raw report"
ransom by the Abu Sayyaf or by the ARMM paramilitary as the cause for Tagitis’
sourced from "barangay intelligence" that still needed confirmation and "follow-up" as to its
disappearance, since the respondent, the police and the military noted that there was no
veracity.60
acknowledgement of Tagitis’ abduction or demand for payment of ransom – the usual modus
operandi of these terrorist groups.
On cross-examination, Col. Kasim testified that the information he gave the respondent was
given to him by his informant, who was a "civilian asset," through a letter which he
Based on these considerations, the CA thus extended the privilege of the writ to Tagitis and
considered as "unofficial."61 Col. Kasim stressed that the letter was only meant for his
his family, and directed the CIDG Chief, Col. Jose Volpane Pante, PNP Chief Avelino I.
"consumption" and not for reading by others.62 He testified further that he destroyed the
Razon, Task Force Tagitis heads Gen. Joel Goltiao and Col. Ahiron Ajirim, and PACER
letter right after he read it to the respondent and her companions because "it was not
Chief Sr. Supt. Leonardo A. Espina to exert extraordinary diligence and efforts to protect
important to him" and also because the information it contained had no importance in
the life, liberty and security of Tagitis, with the obligation to provide monthly reports of
relation with the abduction of Tagitis.63 He explained that he did not keep the letter because
their actions to the CA. At the same time, the CA dismissed the petition against the then
it did not contain any information regarding the whereabouts of Tagitis and the person(s)
respondents from the military, Lt. Gen Alexander Yano and Gen. Ruben Rafael, based on
responsible for his abduction.64
the finding that it was PNP-CIDG, not the military, that was involved.

In the same hearing on February 11, 2008, the petitioners also presented Police Senior
On March 31, 2008, the petitioners moved to reconsider the CA decision, but the CA denied
Superintendent Jose Volpane Pante (Col. Pante), Chief of the CIDG-9, to disprove the
the motion in its Resolution of April 9, 2008.73
respondent’s allegation that Tagitis was in the custody of CIDG-Zamboanga City.65 Col.
Pante clarified that the CIDG was the "investigative arm" of the PNP, and that the CIDG
"investigates and prosecutes all cases involving violations in the Revised Penal Code THE PETITION
particularly those considered as heinous crimes."66 Col. Pante further testified that the
In this Rule 45 appeal questioning the CA’s March 7, 2008 decision, the petitioners mainly The framers of the Amparo Rule never intended Section 5(c) to be complete in every detail
dispute the sufficiency in form and substance of the Amparo petition filed before the CA; the in stating the threatened or actual violation of a victim’s rights. As in any other initiatory
sufficiency of the legal remedies the respondent took before petitioning for the writ; the pleading, the pleader must of course state the ultimate facts constituting the cause of action,
finding that the rights to life, liberty and security of Tagitis had been violated; the omitting the evidentiary details.76 In an Amparo petition, however, this requirement must
sufficiency of evidence supporting the conclusion that Tagitis was abducted; the conclusion be read in light of the nature and purpose of the proceeding, which addresses a situation of
that the CIDG Zamboanga was responsible for the abduction; and, generally, the ruling that uncertainty; the petitioner may not be able to describe with certainty how the victim exactly
the respondent discharged the burden of proving the allegations of the petition by disappeared, or who actually acted to kidnap, abduct or arrest him or her, or where the
substantial evidence.74 victim is detained, because these information may purposely be hidden or covered up by
those who caused the disappearance. In this type of situation, to require the level of
specificity, detail and precision that the petitioners apparently want to read into the
THE COURT’S RULING
Amparo Rule is to make this Rule a token gesture of judicial concern for violations of the
constitutional rights to life, liberty and security.
We do not find the petition meritorious.
To read the Rules of Court requirement on pleadings while addressing the unique Amparo
Sufficiency in Form and Substance situation, the test in reading the petition should be to determine whether it contains the
details available to the petitioner under the circumstances, while presenting a cause of
In questioning the sufficiency in form and substance of the respondent’s Amparo petition, action showing a violation of the victim’s rights to life, liberty and security through State or
the petitioners contend that the petition violated Section 5(c), (d), and (e) of the Amparo private party action. The petition should likewise be read in its totality, rather than in
Rule. Specifically, the petitioners allege that the respondent failed to: terms of its isolated component parts, to determine if the required elements – namely, of the
disappearance, the State or private action, and the actual or threatened violations of the
rights to life, liberty or security – are present.
1) allege any act or omission the petitioners committed in violation of Tagitis’ rights to life, liberty
and security;
In the present case, the petition amply recites in its paragraphs 4 to 11 the circumstances
under which Tagitis suddenly dropped out of sight after engaging in normal activities, and
2) allege in a complete manner how Tagitis was abducted, the persons responsible for his
disappearance, and the respondent’s source of information; thereafter was nowhere to be found despite efforts to locate him. The petition alleged, too,
under its paragraph 7, in relation to paragraphs 15 and 16, that according to reliable
information, police operatives were the perpetrators of the abduction. It also clearly alleged
3) allege that the abduction was committed at the petitioners’ instructions or with their consent; how Tagitis’ rights to life, liberty and security were violated when he was "forcibly taken
and boarded on a motor vehicle by a couple of burly men believed to be police intelligence
4) implead the members of CIDG regional office in Zamboanga alleged to have custody over her operatives," and then taken "into custody by the respondents’ police intelligence operatives
husband; since October 30, 2007, specifically by the CIDG, PNP Zamboanga City, x x x held against
his will in an earnest attempt of the police to involve and connect [him] with different
5) attach the affidavits of witnesses to support her accusations; terrorist groups."77

6) allege any action or inaction attributable to the petitioners in the performance of their duties in These allegations, in our view, properly pleaded ultimate facts within the pleader’s
the investigation of Tagitis’ disappearance; and knowledge about Tagitis’ disappearance, the participation by agents of the State in this
disappearance, the failure of the State to release Tagitis or to provide sufficient information
7) specify what legally available efforts she took to determine the fate or whereabouts of her about his whereabouts, as well as the actual violation of his right to liberty. Thus, the
husband. petition cannot be faulted for any failure in its statement of a cause of action.

A petition for the Writ of Amparo shall be signed and verified and shall allege, among others If a defect can at all be attributed to the petition, this defect is its lack of supporting
(in terms of the portions the petitioners cite):75 affidavit, as required by Section 5(c) of the Amparo Rule. Owing to the summary nature of
the proceedings for the writ and to facilitate the resolution of the petition, the Amparo Rule
incorporated the requirement for supporting affidavits, with the annotation that these can
(c) The right to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party violated or threatened with
violation by an unlawful act or omission of the respondent, and how such threat or violation
be used as the affiant’s direct testimony.78 This requirement, however, should not be read as
is committed with the attendant circumstances detailed in supporting affidavits; an absolute one that necessarily leads to the dismissal of the petition if not strictly followed.
Where, as in this case, the petitioner has substantially complied with the requirement by
submitting a verified petition sufficiently detailing the facts relied upon, the strict need for
(d) The investigation conducted, if any, specifying the names, personal circumstances, and
the sworn statement that an affidavit represents is essentially fulfilled. We note that the
addresses of the investigating authority or individuals, as well as the manner and conduct of
the investigation, together with any report; failure to attach the required affidavits was fully cured when the respondent and her
witness (Mrs. Talbin) personally testified in the CA hearings held on January 7 and 17 and
February 18, 2008 to swear to and flesh out the allegations of the petition. Thus, even on
(e) The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to determine the fate or whereabouts of the this point, the petition cannot be faulted.
aggrieved party and the identity of the person responsible for the threat, act or omission; and
Section 5(d) of the Amparo Rule requires that prior investigation of an alleged xxxx
disappearance must have been made, specifying the manner and results of the
investigation. Effectively, this requirement seeks to establish at the earliest opportunity the 10. When Kunnong could not locate Engr. Tagitis, the former sought the help of another IDB scholar and
level of diligence the public authorities undertook in relation with the reported reported the matter to the local police agency;
disappearance.79
11. Arsimin Kunnong, including his friends and companions in Jolo, exerted efforts in trying to locate the
We reject the petitioners’ argument that the respondent’s petition did not comply with the whereabouts of Engr. Tagitis and when he reported the matter to the police authorities in Jolo, he was
Section 5(d) requirements of the Amparo Rule, as the petition specifies in its paragraph 11 immediately given a ready answer that Engr. Tagitis could [have been] abducted by the Abu Sayyaf
group and other groups known to be fighting against the government;
that Kunnong and his companions immediately reported Tagitis’ disappearance to the police
authorities in Jolo, Sulu as soon as they were relatively certain that he indeed had
disappeared. The police, however, gave them the "ready answer" that Tagitis could have 12. Being scared with these suggestions and insinuations of the police officers, Kunnong reported the
been abducted by the Abu Sayyaf group or other anti-government groups. The respondent matter to the [respondent](wife of Engr. Tagitis) by phone and other responsible officers and coordinators
also alleged in paragraphs 17 and 18 of her petition that she filed a "complaint" with the of the IDB Scholarship Programme in the Philippines who alerted the office of the Governor of ARMM
who was then preparing to attend the OIC meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;
PNP Police Station in Cotobato and in Jolo, but she was told of "an intriguing tale" by the
police that her husband was having "a good time with another woman." The disappearance
was alleged to have been reported, too, to no less than the Governor of the ARMM, followed 13. [The respondent], on the other hand, approached some of her co-employees with the Land Bank in
by the respondent’s personal inquiries that yielded the factual bases for her petition. 80 Digos branch, Digos City, Davao del Sur, who likewise sought help from some of their friends in the
military who could help them find/locate the whereabouts of her husband;

These allegations, to our mind, sufficiently specify that reports have been made to the police
xxxx
authorities, and that investigations should have followed. That the petition did not state the
manner and results of the investigation that the Amparo Rule requires, but rather generally
stated the inaction of the police, their failure to perform their duty to investigate, or at the 15. According to reliable information received by the [respondent], subject Engr. Tagitis is in the custody
very least, their reported failed efforts, should not be a reflection on the completeness of the of police intelligence operatives, specifically with the CIDG, PNP Zamboanga City, being held against his
will in an earnest attempt of the police to involve and connect Engr. Tagitis with the different terrorist
petition. To require the respondent to elaborately specify the names, personal
groups;
circumstances, and addresses of the investigating authority, as well the manner and
conduct of the investigation is an overly strict interpretation of Section 5(d), given the
respondent’s frustrations in securing an investigation with meaningful results. Under these xxxx
circumstances, we are more than satisfied that the allegations of the petition on the
investigations undertaken are sufficiently complete for purposes of bringing the petition 17. [The respondent] filed her complaint with the PNP Police Station at the ARMM in Cotobato and in
forward. Jolo, as suggested by her friends, seeking their help to find her husband, but [the respondent’s] request
and pleadings failed to produce any positive results

Section 5(e) is in the Amparo Rule to prevent the use of a petition – that otherwise is not
supported by sufficient allegations to constitute a proper cause of action – as a means to xxxx
"fish" for evidence.81 The petitioners contend that the respondent’s petition did not specify
what "legally available efforts were taken by the respondent," and that there was an "undue 20. Lately, [respondent] was again advised by one of the [petitioners] to go to the ARMM Police
haste" in the filing of the petition when, instead of cooperating with authorities, the Headquarters again in Cotobato City and also to the different Police Headquarters including the police
respondent immediately invoked the Court’s intervention. headquarters in Davao City, in Zamboanga City, in Jolo, and in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and all these
places have been visited by the [respondent] in search for her husband, which entailed expenses for her
trips to these places thereby resorting her to borrowings and beggings [sic] for financial help from friends
We do not see the respondent’s petition as the petitioners view it. and relatives only to try complying to the different suggestions of these police officers, despite of which,
her efforts produced no positive results up to the present time;

Section 5(e) merely requires that the Amparo petitioner (the respondent in the present case)
allege "the actions and recourses taken to determine the fate or whereabouts of the xxxx
aggrieved party and the identity of the person responsible for the threat, act or omission."
The following allegations of the respondent’s petition duly outlined the actions she had 25. [The respondent] has exhausted all administrative avenues and remedies but to no avail, and under
taken and the frustrations she encountered, thus compelling her to file her petition. the circumstances, [respondent] has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy to protect and get the
release of subject Engr. Morced Tagitis from the illegal clutches of [the petitioners], their intelligence
operatives and the like which are in total violation of the subject’s human and constitutional rights,
xxxx except the issuance of a WRIT OF AMPARO.

7. Soon after the student left the room, Engr. Tagitis went out of the pension house to take his early Based on these considerations, we rule that the respondent’s petition for the Writ of Amparo
lunch but while out on the street, a couple of burly men believed to be police intelligence operatives, is sufficient in form and substance and that the Court of Appeals had every reason to
forcibly took him and boarded the latter on a motor vehicle then sped away without the knowledge of his
student, Arsimin Kunnong;
proceed with its consideration of the case.
The Desaparecidos Involuntary Disappearance91 reports 619 outstanding cases of enforced or involuntary
disappearances covering the period December 1, 2007 to November 30, 2008.92
The present case is one of first impression in the use and application of the Rule on the Writ
of Amparo in an enforced disappearance situation. For a deeper appreciation of the Enforced Disappearances
application of this Rule to an enforced disappearance situation, a brief look at the historical
context of the writ and enforced disappearances would be very helpful.
Under Philippine Law

The phenomenon of enforced disappearance arising from State action first attracted notice
The Amparo Rule expressly provides that the "writ shall cover extralegal killings and
in Adolf Hitler’s Nact und Nebel Erlass or Night and Fog Decree of December 7, 1941.82 The
enforced disappearances or threats thereof."93 We note that although the writ specifically
Third Reich’s Night and Fog Program, a State policy, was directed at persons in occupied
covers "enforced disappearances," this concept is neither defined nor penalized in this
territories "endangering German security"; they were transported secretly to Germany
jurisdiction. The records of the Supreme Court Committee on the Revision of Rules
where they disappeared without a trace. In order to maximize the desired intimidating
(Committee) reveal that the drafters of the Amparo Rule initially considered providing an
effect, the policy prohibited government officials from providing information about the fate
elemental definition of the concept of enforced disappearance:94
of these targeted persons.83

JUSTICE MARTINEZ: I believe that first and foremost we should come up or formulate a
In the mid-1970s, the phenomenon of enforced disappearances resurfaced, shocking and
specific definition [for] extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. From that
outraging the world when individuals, numbering anywhere from 6,000 to 24,000, were
definition, then we can proceed to formulate the rules, definite rules concerning the same.
reported to have "disappeared" during the military regime in Argentina. Enforced
disappearances spread in Latin America, and the issue became an international concern
when the world noted its widespread and systematic use by State security forces in that CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO: … As things stand, there is no law penalizing extrajudicial
continent under Operation Condor84 and during the Dirty War85 in the 1970s and 1980s. killings and enforced disappearances… so initially also we have to [come up with] the
The escalation of the practice saw political activists secretly arrested, tortured, and killed as nature of these extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances [to be covered by the
part of governments’ counter-insurgency campaigns. As this form of political brutality Rule] because our concept of killings and disappearances will define the jurisdiction of the
became routine elsewhere in the continent, the Latin American media standardized the courts. So we’ll have to agree among ourselves about the nature of killings and
term "disappearance" to describe the phenomenon. The victims of enforced disappearances disappearances for instance, in other jurisdictions, the rules only cover state actors. That is
were called the "desaparecidos,"86 which literally means the "disappeared ones."87 In an element incorporated in their concept of extrajudicial killings and enforced
general, there are three different kinds of "disappearance" cases: disappearances. In other jurisdictions, the concept includes acts and omissions not only of
state actors but also of non state actors. Well, more specifically in the case of the Philippines
for instance, should these rules include the killings, the disappearances which may be
1) those of people arrested without witnesses or without positive identification of the arresting
agents and are never found again; authored by let us say, the NPAs or the leftist organizations and others. So, again we need
to define the nature of the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances that will be
covered by these rules. [Emphasis supplied] 95
2) those of prisoners who are usually arrested without an appropriate warrant and held in complete
isolation for weeks or months while their families are unable to discover their whereabouts and the
military authorities deny having them in custody until they eventually reappear in one detention In the end, the Committee took cognizance of several bills filed in the House of
center or another; and Representatives96 and in the Senate97 on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,
and resolved to do away with a clear textual definition of these terms in the Rule. The
3) those of victims of "salvaging" who have disappeared until their lifeless bodies are later Committee instead focused on the nature and scope of the concerns within its power to
discovered.88 address and provided the appropriate remedy therefor, mindful that an elemental definition
may intrude into the ongoing legislative efforts.98
In the Philippines, enforced disappearances generally fall within the first two
categories,89 and 855 cases were recorded during the period of martial law from 1972 until As the law now stands, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in this
1986. Of this number, 595 remained missing, 132 surfaced alive and 127 were found dead. jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately from the component criminal acts
During former President Corazon C. Aquino’s term, 820 people were reported to have undertaken to carry out these killings and enforced disappearances and are now penalized
disappeared and of these, 612 cases were documented. Of this number, 407 remain missing, under the Revised Penal Code and special laws. 99 The simple reason is that the Legislature
108 surfaced alive and 97 were found dead. The number of enforced disappearances dropped has not spoken on the matter; the determination of what acts are criminal and what the
during former President Fidel V. Ramos’ term when only 87 cases were reported, while the corresponding penalty these criminal acts should carry are matters of substantive law that
three-year term of former President Joseph E. Estrada yielded 58 reported cases. only the Legislature has the power to enact under the country’s constitutional scheme and
KARAPATAN, a local non-governmental organization, reports that as of March 31, 2008, power structure.
the records show that there were a total of 193 victims of enforced disappearance under
incumbent President Gloria M. Arroyo’s administration. The Commission on Human Rights’
Even without the benefit of directly applicable substantive laws on extra-judicial killings
records show a total of 636 verified cases of enforced disappearances from 1985 to 1993. Of
and enforced disappearances, however, the Supreme Court is not powerless to act under its
this number, 406 remained missing, 92 surfaced alive, 62 were found dead, and 76 still have
own constitutional mandate to promulgate "rules concerning the protection and enforcement
undetermined status.90 Currently, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or
of constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts,"100 since extrajudicial
killings and enforced disappearances, by their nature and purpose, constitute State or Deeply concerned that in many countries, often in a persistent manner, enforced
private party violation of the constitutional rights of individuals to life, liberty and security. disappearances occur, in the sense that persons are arrested, detained or abducted against
Although the Court’s power is strictly procedural and as such does not diminish, increase or their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of
modify substantive rights, the legal protection that the Court can provide can be very Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the
meaningful through the procedures it sets in addressing extrajudicial killings and enforced support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal
disappearances. The Court, through its procedural rules, can set the procedural standards to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the
and thereby directly compel the public authorities to act on actual or threatened violations deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.
of constitutional rights. To state the obvious, judicial intervention can make a difference – [Emphasis supplied]
even if only procedurally – in a situation when the very same investigating public
authorities may have had a hand in the threatened or actual violations of constitutional
Fourteen years after (or on December 20, 2006), the UN General Assembly adopted the
rights.
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
(Convention).105 The Convention was opened for signature in Paris, France on February 6,
Lest this Court intervention be misunderstood, we clarify once again that we do not rule on 2007.106 Article 2 of the Convention defined enforced disappearance as follows:
any issue of criminal culpability for the extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance. This
is an issue that requires criminal action before our criminal courts based on our existing
For the purposes of this Convention, "enforced disappearance" is considered to be the arrest,
penal laws. Our intervention is in determining whether an enforced disappearance has
detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by
taken place and who is responsible or accountable for this disappearance, and to define and
persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the
impose the appropriate remedies to address it. The burden for the public authorities to
State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of
discharge in these situations, under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, is twofold. The first is
the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the
to ensure that all efforts at disclosure and investigation are undertaken under pain of
protection of the law. [Emphasis supplied]
indirect contempt from this Court when governmental efforts are less than what the
individual situations require. The second is to address the disappearance, so that the life of
the victim is preserved and his or her liberty and security restored. In these senses, our The Convention is the first universal human rights instrument to assert that there is a
orders and directives relative to the writ are continuing efforts that are not truly terminated right not to be subject to enforced disappearance 107 and that this right is non-derogable.108 It
until the extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance is fully addressed by the complete provides that no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance under any circumstances,
determination of the fate and the whereabouts of the victim, by the production of the be it a state of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency. It obliges
disappeared person and the restoration of his or her liberty and security, and, in the proper State Parties to codify enforced disappearance as an offense punishable with appropriate
case, by the commencement of criminal action against the guilty parties. penalties under their criminal law.109 It also recognizes the right of relatives of the
disappeared persons and of the society as a whole to know the truth on the fate and
whereabouts of the disappeared and on the progress and results of the
Enforced Disappearance - Under International Law
investigation.110 Lastly, it classifies enforced disappearance as a continuing offense, such
that statutes of limitations shall not apply until the fate and whereabouts of the victim are
From the International Law perspective, involuntary or enforced disappearance is established.111
considered a flagrant violation of human rights.101 It does not only violate the right to life,
liberty and security of the desaparecido; it affects their families as well through the denial of
Binding Effect of UN - Action on the Philippines
their right to information regarding the circumstances of the disappeared family member.
Thus, enforced disappearances have been said to be "a double form of torture," with "doubly
paralyzing impact for the victims," as they "are kept ignorant of their own fates, while To date, the Philippines has neither signed nor ratified the Convention, so that the country
family members are deprived of knowing the whereabouts of their detained loved ones" and is not yet committed to enact any law penalizing enforced disappearance as a crime. The
suffer as well the serious economic hardship and poverty that in most cases follow the absence of a specific penal law, however, is not a stumbling block for action from this Court,
disappearance of the household breadwinner.102 as heretofore mentioned; underlying every enforced disappearance is a violation of the
constitutional rights to life, liberty and security that the Supreme Court is mandated by the
Constitution to protect through its rule-making powers.
The UN General Assembly first considered the issue of "Disappeared Persons" in December
1978 under Resolution 33/173. The Resolution expressed the General Assembly’s deep
concern arising from "reports from various parts of the world relating to enforced or Separately from the Constitution (but still pursuant to its terms), the Court is guided, in
involuntary disappearances," and requested the "UN Commission on Human Rights to acting on Amparo cases, by the reality that the Philippines is a member of the UN, bound by
consider the issue of enforced disappearances with a view to making appropriate its Charter and by the various conventions we signed and ratified, particularly the
recommendations."103 conventions touching on humans rights. Under the UN Charter, the Philippines pledged to
"promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms
for all without distinctions as to race, sex, language or religion."112 Although no universal
In 1992, in response to the reality that the insidious practice of enforced disappearance had
agreement has been reached on the precise extent of the "human rights and fundamental
become a global phenomenon, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the
freedoms" guaranteed to all by the Charter,113 it was the UN itself that issued the
Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Declaration).104 This Declaration,
Declaration on enforced disappearance, and this Declaration states:114
for the first time, provided in its third preambular clause a working description of enforced
disappearance, as follows:
Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to dignity. It is condemned as a denial of the Convention.124 At present, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela have
purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of enacted separate laws in accordance with the Inter-American Convention and have defined
human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of activities involving enforced disappearance to be criminal.1251avvphi1
Human Rights and reaffirmed and developed in international instruments in this field.
[Emphasis supplied]
Second, in Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights has no explicit provision
dealing with the protection against enforced disappearance. The European Court of Human
As a matter of human right and fundamental freedom and as a policy matter made in a UN Rights (ECHR), however, has applied the Convention in a way that provides ample
Declaration, the ban on enforced disappearance cannot but have its effects on the country, protection for the underlying rights affected by enforced disappearance through the
given our own adherence to "generally accepted principles of international law as part of the Convention’s Article 2 on the right to life; Article 3 on the prohibition of torture; Article 5 on
law of the land."115 the right to liberty and security; Article 6, paragraph 1 on the right to a fair trial; and
Article 13 on the right to an effective remedy. A leading example demonstrating the
protection afforded by the European Convention is Kurt v. Turkey, 126where the ECHR found
In the recent case of Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v.
a violation of the right to liberty and security of the disappeared person when the
Duque III,116 we held that:
applicant’s son disappeared after being taken into custody by Turkish forces in the Kurdish
village of Agilli in November 1993. It further found the applicant (the disappeared person’s
Under the 1987 Constitution, international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either mother) to be a victim of a violation of Article 3, as a result of the silence of the authorities
by transformation or incorporation. The transformation method requires that an international law be and the inadequate character of the investigations undertaken. The ECHR also saw the lack
transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as local legislation. The
of any meaningful investigation by the State as a violation of Article 13.127
incorporation method applies when, by mere constitutional declaration, international law is
deemed to have the force of domestic law. [Emphasis supplied]
Third, in the United States, the status of the prohibition on enforced disappearance as part
We characterized "generally accepted principles of international law" as norms of general or of customary international law is recognized in the most recent edition of Restatement of
customary international law that are binding on all states. We held further:117 the Law: The Third,128 which provides that "[a] State violates international law if, as a
matter of State policy, it practices, encourages, or condones… (3) the murder or causing the
disappearance of individuals."129 We significantly note that in a related matter that finds
[G]enerally accepted principles of international law, by virtue of the incorporation clause of close identification with enforced disappearance – the matter of torture – the United States
the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even if they do not derive from treaty Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Court held in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala130 that the
obligations. The classical formulation in international law sees those customary rules prohibition on torture had attained the status of customary international law. The court
accepted as binding result from the combination [of] two elements: the established, further elaborated on the significance of UN declarations, as follows:
widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a psychological element
known as the opinion juris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). Implicit in
the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered obligatory by the These U.N. declarations are significant because they specify with great precision the
existence of a rule of law requiring it. [Emphasis in the original] obligations of member nations under the Charter. Since their adoption, "(m)embers can no
longer contend that they do not know what human rights they promised in the Charter to
promote." Moreover, a U.N. Declaration is, according to one authoritative definition, "a
The most widely accepted statement of sources of international law today is Article 38(1) of formal and solemn instrument, suitable for rare occasions when principles of great and
the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which provides that the Court shall apply lasting importance are being enunciated." Accordingly, it has been observed that the
"international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law."118 The material Universal Declaration of Human Rights "no longer fits into the dichotomy of ‘binding treaty’
sources of custom include State practice, State legislation, international and national against ‘non-binding pronouncement,' but is rather an authoritative statement of the
judicial decisions, recitals in treaties and other international instruments, a pattern of international community." Thus, a Declaration creates an expectation of adherence, and
treaties in the same form, the practice of international organs, and resolutions relating to "insofar as the expectation is gradually justified by State practice, a declaration may by
legal questions in the UN General Assembly.119 Sometimes referred to as "evidence" of custom become recognized as laying down rules binding upon the States." Indeed, several
international law,120 these sources identify the substance and content of the obligations of commentators have concluded that the Universal Declaration has become, in toto, a part of
States and are indicative of the "State practice" and "opinio juris" requirements of binding, customary international law. [Citations omitted]
international law.121 We note the following in these respects:

Fourth, in interpreting Article 2 (right to an effective domestic remedy) of the International


First, barely two years from the adoption of the Declaration, the Organization of American Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is both a
States (OAS) General Assembly adopted the Inter-American Convention on Enforced signatory and a State Party, the UN Human Rights Committee, under the Office of the High
Disappearance of Persons in June 1994.122 State parties undertook under this Convention Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated that the act of enforced disappearance violates
"not to practice, permit, or tolerate the forced disappearance of persons, even in states of Articles 6 (right to life), 7 (prohibition on torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
emergency or suspension of individual guarantees."123 One of the key provisions includes the punishment) and 9 (right to liberty and security of the person) of the ICCPR, and the act
States’ obligation to enact the crime of forced disappearance in their respective national may also amount to a crime against humanity.131
criminal laws and to establish jurisdiction over such cases when the crime was committed
within their jurisdiction, when the victim is a national of that State, and "when the alleged
criminal is within its territory and it does not proceed to extradite him," which can be Fifth, Article 7, paragraph 1 of the 1998 Rome Statute establishing the International
interpreted as establishing universal jurisdiction among the parties to the Inter-American Criminal Court (ICC) also covers enforced disappearances insofar as they are defined as
crimes against humanity,132 i.e., crimes "committed as part of a widespread or systematic In General Comment No. 31, the UN Human Rights Committee opined that the right to an
attack against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack." While more than 100 effective remedy under Article 2 of the ICCPR includes the obligation of the State to
countries have ratified the Rome Statute,133 the Philippines is still merely a signatory and investigate ICCPR violations promptly, thoroughly, and effectively, viz:137
has not yet ratified it. We note that Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute has been incorporated
in the statutes of other international and hybrid tribunals, including Sierra Leone Special 15. Article 2, paragraph 3, requires that in addition to effective protection of Covenant rights, States
Court, the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in Timor-Leste, and the Extraordinary Parties must ensure that individuals also have accessible and effective remedies to vindicate those
Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.134 In addition, the implementing legislation of State rights… The Committee attaches importance to States Parties' establishing appropriate judicial and
Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC has given rise to a number of national criminal administrative mechanisms for addressing claims of rights violations under domestic law…
provisions also covering enforced disappearance.135 Administrative mechanisms are particularly required to give effect to the general obligation to
investigate allegations of violations promptly, thoroughly and effectivelythrough independent and
impartial bodies. A failure by a State Party to investigate allegations of violations could in and of itself
While the Philippines is not yet formally bound by the terms of the Convention on enforced give rise to a separate breach of the Covenant. Cessation of an ongoing violation is an essential element
disappearance (or by the specific terms of the Rome Statute) and has not formally declared of the right to an effective remedy. [Emphasis supplied]
enforced disappearance as a specific crime, the above recital shows that enforced
disappearance as a State practice has been repudiated by the international community, so The UN Human Rights Committee further stated in the same General Comment No. 31
that the ban on it is now a generally accepted principle of international law, which we that failure to investigate as well as failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of ICCPR
should consider a part of the law of the land, and which we should act upon to the extent violations could in and of itself give rise to a separate breach of the Covenant, thus:138
already allowed under our laws and the international conventions that bind us.

18. Where the investigations referred to in paragraph 15 reveal violations of certain Covenant rights,
The following civil or political rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the States Parties must ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. As with failure to investigate,
ICCPR and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) failure to bring to justice perpetrators of such violations could in and of itself give rise to a separate
may be infringed in the course of a disappearance:136 breach of the Covenant. These obligations arise notably in respect of those violations recognized as
criminal under either domestic or international law, such as torture and similar cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment (article 7), summary and arbitrary killing (article 6) and enforced disappearance
1) the right to recognition as a person before the law; (articles 7 and 9 and, frequently, 6). Indeed, the problem of impunity for these violations, a matter of
2) the right to liberty and security of the person; sustained concern by the Committee, may well be an important contributing element in the recurrence of
3) the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or the violations. When committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population,
punishment; these violations of the Covenant are crimes against humanity (see Rome Statute of the International
4) the right to life, when the disappeared person is killed; Criminal Court, article 7). [Emphasis supplied]
5) the right to an identity;
6) the right to a fair trial and to judicial guarantees;
7) the right to an effective remedy, including reparation and compensation; In Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo,139 this Court, in ruling that the right to security
8) the right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of a disappearance. of persons is a guarantee of the protection of one’s right by the government, held that:
9) the right to protection and assistance to the family;
10) the right to an adequate standard of living;
11) the right to health; and The right to security of person in this third sense is a corollary of the policy that the State "guarantees
12) the right to education [Emphasis supplied] full respect for human rights" under Article II, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution. As the government is
the chief guarantor of order and security, the Constitutional guarantee of the rights to life, liberty and
security of person is rendered ineffective if government does not afford protection to these rights especially
Article 2 of the ICCPR, which binds the Philippines as a state party, provides: when they are under threat. Protection includes conducting effective investigations,
organization of the government apparatus to extend protection to victims of extralegal
killings or enforced disappearances (or threats thereof) and/or their families, and bringing
Article 2 offenders to the bar of justice. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights stressed the importance of
investigation in the Velasquez Rodriguez Case, viz:
3. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes:
(The duty to investigate) must be undertaken in a serious manner and not as a mere formality
preordained to be ineffective. An investigation must have an objective and be assumed by the State as its
(a) To ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have own legal duty, not as a step taken by private interests that depends upon the initiative of the victim or
an effective remedy, notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an his family or upon their offer of proof, without an effective search for the truth by the government.
official capacity; [Emphasis supplied]

(b) To ensure that any person claiming such a remedy shall have his right thereto determined by
Manalo significantly cited Kurt v. Turkey,140 where the ECHR interpreted the "right to
competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority
provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy; security" not only as a prohibition on the State against arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but
also as the imposition of a positive duty to afford protection to the right to liberty. The Court
notably quoted the following ECHR ruling:
(c) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted. [Emphasis
supplied]
[A]ny deprivation of liberty must not only have been effected in conformity with the substantive and
procedural rules of national law but must equally be in keeping with the very purpose of Article 5,
namely to protect the individual from arbitrariness... Having assumed control over that individual, it is
incumbent on the authorities to account for his or her whereabouts. For this reason, Article 5 must be Third is the element of denial; in many cases, the State authorities deliberately deny that
seen as requiring the authorities to take effective measures to safeguard against the risk of the enforced disappearance ever occurred.148 "Deniability" is central to the policy of enforced
disappearance and to conduct a prompt effective investigation into an arguable claim that a person has
disappearances, as the absence of any proven disappearance makes it easier to escape the
been taken into custody and has not been seen since. [Emphasis supplied]
application of legal standards ensuring the victim’s human rights. 149 Experience shows that
government officials typically respond to requests for information about desaparecidos by
These rulings effectively serve as the backdrop for the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, which saying that they are not aware of any disappearance, that the missing people may have fled
the Court made effective on October 24, 2007. Although the Amparo Rule still has gaps the country, or that their names have merely been invented.150
waiting to be filled through substantive law, as evidenced primarily by the lack of a concrete
definition of "enforced disappearance," the materials cited above, among others, provide
These considerations are alive in our minds, as these are the difficulties we confront, in one
ample guidance and standards on how, through the medium of the Amparo Rule, the Court
form or another, in our consideration of this case.
can provide remedies and protect the constitutional rights to life, liberty and security that
underlie every enforced disappearance.
Evidence and Burden of Proof in Enforced Disappearances Cases
Evidentiary Difficulties Posed by the Unique Nature of an Enforced Disappearance
Sections 13, 17 and 18 of the Amparo Rule define the nature of an Amparo proceeding and
the degree and burden of proof the parties to the case carry, as follows:
Before going into the issue of whether the respondent has discharged the burden of proving
the allegations of the petition for the Writ of Amparo by the degree of proof required by the
Amparo Rule, we shall discuss briefly the unique evidentiary difficulties presented by Section 13. Summary Hearing. The hearing on the petition shall be summary. However,
enforced disappearance cases; these difficulties form part of the setting that the the court, justice or judge may call for a preliminary conference to simplify the issues and
implementation of the Amparo Rule shall encounter. determine the possibility of obtaining stipulations and admissions from the parties.

These difficulties largely arise because the State itself – the party whose involvement is xxxx
alleged – investigates enforced disappearances. Past experiences in other jurisdictions show
that the evidentiary difficulties are generally threefold. Section 17. Burden of Proof and Standard of Diligence Required. – The parties shall establish their
claims by substantial evidence.
First, there may be a deliberate concealment of the identities of the direct
perpetrators.141 Experts note that abductors are well organized, armed and usually The respondent who is a private individual must prove that ordinary diligence as required by applicable
members of the military or police forces, thus: laws, rules and regulations was observed in the performance of duty.

The victim is generally arrested by the security forces or by persons acting under some form of The respondent who is a public official or employee must prove that extraordinary diligence as required
governmental authority. In many countries the units that plan, implement and execute the program are by applicable laws, rules and regulations was observed in the performance of duty.
generally specialized, highly-secret bodies within the armed or security forces. They are generally
directed through a separate, clandestine chain of command, but they have the necessary credentials to
The respondent public official or employee cannot invoke the presumption that official duty has been
avoid or prevent any interference by the "legal" police forces. These authorities take their victims to
regularly performed or evade responsibility or liability.
secret detention centers where they subject them to interrogation and torture without fear of judicial or
other controls.142
Section 18. Judgment. – … If the allegations in the petition are proven by substantial evidence,
the court shall grant the privilege of the writ and such reliefs as may be proper and
In addition, there are usually no witnesses to the crime; if there are, these witnesses are appropriate; otherwise, the privilege shall be denied. [Emphasis supplied]
usually afraid to speak out publicly or to testify on the disappearance out of fear for their
own lives.143 We have had occasion to note this difficulty in Secretary of Defense v.
Manalo144 when we acknowledged that "where powerful military officers are implicated, the These characteristics – namely, of being summary and the use of substantial evidence as the
hesitation of witnesses to surface and testify against them comes as no surprise." required level of proof (in contrast to the usual preponderance of evidence or proof beyond
reasonable doubt in court proceedings) – reveal the clear intent of the framers of the
Amparo Rule to have the equivalent of an administrative proceeding, albeit judicially
Second, deliberate concealment of pertinent evidence of the disappearance is a distinct conducted, in addressing Amparo situations. The standard of diligence required – the duty
possibility; the central piece of evidence in an enforced disappearance – i.e., the corpus of public officials and employees to observe extraordinary diligence – point, too, to the
delicti or the victim’s body – is usually concealed to effectively thwart the start of any extraordinary measures expected in the protection of constitutional rights and in the
investigation or the progress of one that may have begun.145 The problem for the victim’s consequent handling and investigation of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance
family is the State’s virtual monopoly of access to pertinent evidence. The Inter-American cases.
Court of Human Rights (IACHR) observed in the landmark case of Velasquez
Rodriguez146 that inherent to the practice of enforced disappearance is the deliberate use of
the State’s power to destroy the pertinent evidence. The IACHR described the concealment Thus, in these proceedings, the Amparo petitioner needs only to properly comply with the
as a clear attempt by the State to commit the perfect crime. 147 substance and form requirements of a Writ of Amparo petition, as discussed above, and
prove the allegations by substantial evidence. Once a rebuttable case has been proven, the
respondents must then respond and prove their defenses based on the standard of diligence
required. The rebuttable case, of course, must show that an enforced disappearance took 131. Circumstantial or presumptive evidence is especially important in allegations of disappearances,
place under circumstances showing a violation of the victim’s constitutional rights to life, because this type of repression is characterized by an attempt to suppress all information about the
kidnapping or the whereabouts and fate of the victim. [Emphasis supplied]
liberty or security, and the failure on the part of the investigating authorities to
appropriately respond.
In concluding that the disappearance of Manfredo Velásquez (Manfredo) was carried out by
The landmark case of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations151
provided the Court its agents who acted under cover of public authority, the IACHR relied on circumstantial
first opportunity to define the substantial evidence required to arrive at a valid decision in evidence including the hearsay testimony of Zenaida Velásquez, the victim’s sister, who
administrative proceedings. To directly quote Ang Tibay: described Manfredo’s kidnapping on the basis of conversations she had with witnesses who
saw Manfredo kidnapped by men in civilian clothes in broad daylight. She also told the
Court that a former Honduran military official had announced that Manfredo was
Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a kidnapped by a special military squadron acting under orders of the Chief of the Armed
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. [citations omitted] The Forces.155 The IACHR likewise considered the hearsay testimony of a second witness who
statute provides that ‘the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity shall not asserted that he had been told by a Honduran military officer about the disappearance, and
be controlling.’ The obvious purpose of this and similar provisions is to free administrative a third witness who testified that he had spoken in prison to a man who identified himself
boards from the compulsion of technical rules so that the mere admission of matter which as Manfredo.156
would be deemed incompetent in judicial proceedings would not invalidate the
administrative order. [citations omitted] But this assurance of a desirable flexibility in
administrative procedure does not go so far as to justify orders without a basis in evidence Velasquez stresses the lesson that flexibility is necessary under the unique circumstances
having rational probative force. [Emphasis supplied] that enforced disappearance cases pose to the courts; to have an effective remedy, the
standard of evidence must be responsive to the evidentiary difficulties faced. On the one
hand, we cannot be arbitrary in the admission and appreciation of evidence, as arbitrariness
In Secretary of Defense v. Manalo,152 which was the Court’s first petition for a Writ of entails violation of rights and cannot be used as an effective counter-measure; we only
Amparo, we recognized that the full and exhaustive proceedings that the substantial compound the problem if a wrong is addressed by the commission of another wrong. On the
evidence standard regularly requires do not need to apply due to the summary nature of other hand, we cannot be very strict in our evidentiary rules and cannot consider evidence
Amparo proceedings. We said: the way we do in the usual criminal and civil cases; precisely, the proceedings before us are
administrative in nature where, as a rule, technical rules of evidence are not strictly
The remedy [of the writ of amparo] provides rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding observed. Thus, while we must follow the substantial evidence rule, we must observe
that requires only substantial evidence to make the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is flexibility in considering the evidence we shall take into account.
not an action to determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for
damages requiring preponderance of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring substantial
evidence that will require full and exhaustive proceedings.[Emphasis supplied] The fair and proper rule, to our mind, is to consider all the pieces of evidence adduced in
their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible under our usual rules to
be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible evidence adduced. In other words, we
Not to be forgotten in considering the evidentiary aspects of Amparo petitions are the reduce our rules to the most basic test of reason – i.e., to the relevance of the evidence to the
unique difficulties presented by the nature of enforced disappearances, heretofore discussed, issue at hand and its consistency with all other pieces of adduced evidence. Thus, even
which difficulties this Court must frontally meet if the Amparo Rule is to be given a chance hearsay evidence can be admitted if it satisfies this basic minimum test.
to achieve its objectives. These evidentiary difficulties compel the Court to adopt standards
appropriate and responsive to the circumstances, without transgressing the due process
requirements that underlie every proceeding. We note in this regard that the use of flexibility in the consideration of evidence is not at all
novel in the Philippine legal system. In child abuse cases, Section 28 of the Rule on
Examination of a Child Witness157 is expressly recognized as an exception to the hearsay
In the seminal case of Velasquez Rodriguez,153 the IACHR – faced with a lack of direct rule. This Rule allows the admission of the hearsay testimony of a child describing any act
evidence that the government of Honduras was involved in Velasquez Rodriguez’ or attempted act of sexual abuse in any criminal or non-criminal proceeding, subject to
disappearance – adopted a relaxed and informal evidentiary standard, and established the certain prerequisites and the right of cross-examination by the adverse party. The
rule that presumes governmental responsibility for a disappearance if it can be proven that admission of the statement is determined by the court in light of specified subjective and
the government carries out a general practice of enforced disappearances and the specific objective considerations that provide sufficient indicia of reliability of the child
case can be linked to that practice.154 The IACHR took note of the realistic fact that enforced witness.158 These requisites for admission find their counterpart in the present case under
disappearances could be proven only through circumstantial or indirect evidence or by the above-described conditions for the exercise of flexibility in the consideration of evidence,
logical inference; otherwise, it was impossible to prove that an individual had been made to including hearsay evidence, in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance cases.
disappear. It held:

Assessment of the Evidence


130. The practice of international and domestic courts shows that direct evidence, whether testimonial or
documentary, is not the only type of evidence that may be legitimately considered in reaching a decision.
Circumstantial evidence, indicia, and presumptions may be considered, so long as they lead to The threshold question for our resolution is: was there an enforced disappearance within the
conclusions consistent with the facts. meaning of this term under the UN Declaration we have cited?
The Convention defines enforced disappearance as "the arrest, detention, abduction or any Q: And what was the content of that highly confidential report?
A: Those alleged activities of Engineer Tagitis, sir.161 [Emphasis supplied]
other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons She confirmed this testimony in her cross-examination:
acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to Q: You also mentioned that you went to Camp Katitipan in Davao City?
acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the A: Yes, ma’am.
Q: And a certain Col. Kasim told you that your husband was abducted and under custodial investigation?
disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law." 159Under A: Yes, ma’am.
this definition, the elements that constitute enforced disappearance are essentially Q: And you mentioned that he showed you a report?
fourfold:160 A: Yes, ma’am.
Q: Were you able to read the contents of that report?
A: He did not furnish me a copy of those [sic] report because those [sic] were highly confidential. That is a military report,
(a) arrest, detention, abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty; ma’am.
Q: But you were able to read the contents?
A: No. But he read it in front of us, my friends, ma’am.
Q: How many were you when you went to see Col. Kasim?
(b) carried out by agents of the State or persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization,
A: There were three of us, ma’am.
support or acquiescence of the State; Q: Who were your companions?
A: Mrs. Talbin, tapos yung dalawang friends nya from Mati City, Davao Oriental, ma’am. 162
xxxx
(c) followed by a refusal to acknowledge the detention, or a concealment of the fate of the disappeared Q: When you were told that your husband is in good hands, what was your reaction and what did you do?
person; and A: May binasa kasi sya that my husband has a parang meeting with other people na parang mga terorista na mga tao.
Tapos at the end of the report is [sic] under custodial investigation. So I told him "Colonel, my husband is sick. He is
diabetic at nagmemaintain yun ng gamot. Pakisabi lang sa naghohold sa asawa ko na bigyan siya ng gamot, ma’am."163
(d) placement of the disappeared person outside the protection of the law. [Emphasis supplied] xxxx
Q: You mentioned that you received information that Engineer Tagitis is being held by the CIDG in Zamboanga, did you go
to CIDG Zamboanga to verify that information?
We find no direct evidence indicating how the victim actually disappeared. The direct A: I did not go to CIDG Zamboanga. I went to Camp Karingal instead. Enough na yun na effort ko because I know that
they would deny it, ma’am.164
evidence at hand only shows that Tagitis went out of the ASY Pension House after On February 11, 2008, the respondent presented Mrs. Talbin to corroborate her testimony that her husband was abducted
depositing his room key with the hotel desk and was never seen nor heard of again. The and held under custodial investigation by the PNP-CIDG Zamboanga City, viz:
undisputed conclusion, however, from all concerned – the petitioner, Tagitis’ colleagues and Q: You said that you went to Camp Katitipan in Davao City sometime November 24, 2007, who was with you when you
went there?
even the police authorities – is that Tagistis disappeared under mysterious circumstances A: Mary Jean Tagitis, sir.
and was never seen again. The respondent injected the causal element in her petition and Q: Only the two of you?
testimony, as we shall discuss below. A: No. We have some other companions. We were four at that time, sir.
Q: Who were they?
A: Salvacion Serrano, Mini Leong, Mrs. Tagitis and me, sir.
Q: Were you able to talk, see some other officials at Camp Katitipan during that time?
We likewise find no direct evidence showing that operatives of PNP CIDG Zamboanga A: Col. Kasim (PS Supt. Julasirim Ahadin Kasim) only, sir.
abducted or arrested Tagitis. If at all, only the respondent’s allegation that Tagistis was Q: Were you able to talk to him?
under CIDG Zamboanga custody stands on record, but it is not supported by any other A: Yes, sir.
Q: The four of you?
evidence, direct or circumstantial. A: Yes, sir.
Q: What information did you get from Col. Kasim during that time?
A: The first time we met with [him] I asked him if he knew of the exact location, if he can furnish us the location of Engr.
In her direct testimony, the respondent pointed to two sources of information as her bases Tagitis. And he was reading this report. He told us that Engr. Tagitis is in good hands. He is with the military, but he is
for her allegation that Tagistis had been placed under government custody (in contrast with not certain whether he is with the AFP or PNP. He has this serious case. He was charged of terrorism because he was
under surveillance from January 2007 up to the time that he was abducted. He told us that he was under custodial
CIDG Zamboanga custody). The first was an unnamed friend in Zamboanga (later identified investigation. As I’ve said earlier, he was seen under surveillance from January. He was seen talking to Omar Patik, a
as Col. Ancanan), who occupied a high position in the military and who allegedly mentioned certain Santos of Bulacan who is also a Balik Islam and charged with terrorism. He was seen carrying boxes of medicines.
that Tagitis was in good hands. Nothing came out of this claim, as both the respondent Then we asked him how long will he be in custodial investigation. He said until we can get some information. But he also
told us that he cannot give us that report because it was a raw report. It was not official, sir.
herself and her witness, Mrs. Talbin, failed to establish that Col. Ancanan gave them any Q: You said that he was reading a report, was that report in document form, in a piece of paper or was it in the computer or
information that Tagitis was in government custody. Col. Ancanan, for his part, admitted what?
the meeting with the respondent but denied giving her any information about the A: As far as I can see it, sir, it is written in white bond paper. I don’t know if it was computerized but I’m certain that it
was typewritten. I’m not sure if it used computer, fax or what, sir.
disappearance. Q: When he was reading it to you, was he reading it line by line or he was reading in a summary form?
A: Sometimes he was glancing to the report and talking to us, sir.165
xxxx
The more specific and productive source of information was Col. Kasim, whom the Q: Were you informed as to the place where he was being kept during that time?
respondent, together with her witness Mrs. Talbin, met in Camp Katitipan in Davao City. A: He did not tell us where he [Tagitis] was being kept. But he mentioned this Talipapao, Sulu, sir.
Q: After that incident, what did you do if any?
To quote the relevant portions of the respondent’s testimony: A: We just left and as I’ve mentioned, we just waited because that raw information that he was reading to us [sic] after the
custodial investigation, Engineer Tagitis will be released. [Emphasis supplied] 166
Col. Kasim never denied that he met with the respondent and her friends, and that he provided them information based on
Q: Were you able to speak to other military officials regarding the whereabouts of your husband particularly those in
the input of an unnamed asset. He simply claimed in his testimony that the "informal letter" he received from his
charge of any records or investigation?
informant in Sulu did not indicate that Tagitis was in the custody of the CIDG. He also stressed that the information he
A: I went to Camp Katitipan in Davao City. Then one military officer, Col. Casim, told me that my husband is being
provided the respondent was merely a "raw report" from "barangay intelligence" that still needed confirmation and "follow
abducted [sic] because he is under custodial investigation because he is allegedly "parang liason ng J.I.", sir.
up" as to its veracity.167
Q: What is J.I.?
A: Jema’ah Islamiah, sir.
Q: Was there any information that was read to you during one of those visits of yours in that Camp?
A: Col. Casim did not furnish me a copy of his report because he said those reports are highly confidential, sir. To be sure, the respondent’s and Mrs. Talbin’s testimonies were far from perfect, as the
Q: Was it read to you then even though you were not furnished a copy? petitioners pointed out. The respondent mistakenly characterized Col. Kasim as a "military
A: Yes, sir. In front of us, my friends.
officer" who told her that "her husband is being abducted because he is under custodial enforced disappearances. The Amparo Rule was not promulgated with this intent or with
investigation because he is allegedly ‘parang liason ng J.I.’" The petitioners also noted that the intent to make it a token gesture of concern for constitutional rights. It was
"Mrs. Talbin’s testimony imputing certain statements to Sr. Supt. Kasim that Engr. Tagitis promulgated to provide effective and timely remedies, using and profiting from local and
is with the military, but he is not certain whether it is the PNP or AFP is not worthy of international experiences in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, as the
belief, since Sr. Supt. Kasim is a high ranking police officer who would certainly know that situation may require. Consequently, we have no choice but to meet the evidentiary
the PNP is not part of the military." difficulties inherent in enforced disappearances with the flexibility that these difficulties
demand.1avvphi1
Upon deeper consideration of these inconsistencies, however, what appears clear to us is
that the petitioners never really steadfastly disputed or presented evidence to refute the To give full meaning to our Constitution and the rights it protects, we hold that, as in
credibility of the respondent and her witness, Mrs. Talbin. The inconsistencies the Velasquez, we should at least take a close look at the available evidence to determine the
petitioners point out relate, more than anything else, to details that should not affect the correct import of every piece of evidence – even of those usually considered inadmissible
credibility of the respondent and Mrs. Talbin; the inconsistencies are not on material under the general rules of evidence – taking into account the surrounding circumstances
points.168 We note, for example, that these witnesses are lay people in so far as military and and the test of reason that we can use as basic minimum admissibility requirement. In the
police matters are concerned, and confusion between the police and the military is not present case, we should at least determine whether the Kasim evidence before us is relevant
unusual. As a rule, minor inconsistencies such as these indicate truthfulness rather than and meaningful to the disappearance of Tagistis and reasonably consistent with other
prevarication169and only tend to strengthen their probative value, in contrast to testimonies evidence in the case.
from various witnesses dovetailing on every detail; the latter cannot but generate suspicion
that the material circumstances they testified to were integral parts of a well thought of and
The evidence about Tagitis’ personal circumstances surrounded him with an air of mystery.
prefabricated story.170
He was reputedly a consultant of the World Bank and a Senior Honorary Counselor for the
IDB who attended a seminar in Zamboanga and thereafter proceded to Jolo for an overnight
Based on these considerations and the unique evidentiary situation in enforced stay, indicated by his request to Kunnong for the purchase of a return ticket to Zamboanga
disappearance cases, we hold it duly established that Col. Kasim informed the respondent the day after he arrived in Jolo. Nothing in the records indicates the purpose of his
and her friends, based on the informant’s letter, that Tagitis, reputedly a liaison for the JI overnight sojourn in Jolo. A colleague in the IDB, Prof. Matli, early on informed the Jolo
and who had been under surveillance since January 2007, was "in good hands" and under police that Tagitis may have taken funds given to him in trust for IDB scholars. Prof Matli
custodial investigation for complicity with the JI after he was seen talking to one Omar later on stated that he never accused Tagitis of taking away money held in trust, although
Patik and a certain "Santos" of Bulacan, a "Balik Islam" charged with terrorism. The he confirmed that the IDB was seeking assistance in locating funds of IDB scholars
respondent’s and Mrs. Talbin’s testimonies cannot simply be defeated by Col. Kasim’s plain deposited in Tagitis’ personal account. Other than these pieces of evidence, no other
denial and his claim that he had destroyed his informant’s letter, the critical piece of information exists in the records relating to the personal circumstances of Tagitis.
evidence that supports or negates the parties’ conflicting claims. Col. Kasim’s admitted
destruction of this letter – effectively, a suppression of this evidence – raises the
The actual disappearance of Tagitis is as murky as his personal circumstances. While the
presumption that the letter, if produced, would be proof of what the respondent
Amparo petition recited that he was taken away by "burly men believed to be police
claimed.171 For brevity, we shall call the evidence of what Col. Kasim reported to the
intelligence operatives," no evidence whatsoever was introduced to support this allegation.
respondent to be the "Kasim evidence."
Thus, the available direct evidence is that Tagitis was last seen at 12.30 p.m. of October 30,
2007 – the day he arrived in Jolo – and was never seen again.
Given this evidence, our next step is to decide whether we can accept this evidence, in lieu of
direct evidence, as proof that the disappearance of Tagitis was due to action with
The Kasim evidence assumes critical materiality given the dearth of direct evidence on the
government participation, knowledge or consent and that he was held for custodial
above aspects of the case, as it supplies the gaps that were never looked into and clarified by
investigation. We note in this regard that Col. Kasim was never quoted to have said that the
police investigation. It is the evidence, too, that colors a simple missing person report into
custodial investigation was by the CIDG Zamboanga. The Kasim evidence only implies
an enforced disappearance case, as it injects the element of participation by agents of the
government intervention through the use of the term "custodial investigation," and does not
State and thus brings into question how the State reacted to the disappearance.
at all point to CIDG Zamboanga as Tagitis’ custodian.

Denials on the part of the police authorities, and frustration on the part of the respondent,
Strictly speaking, we are faced here with a classic case of hearsay evidence – i.e., evidence
characterize the attempts to locate Tagitis. Initially in Jolo, the police informed Kunnong
whose probative value is not based on the personal knowledge of the witnesses (the
that Tagitis could have been taken by the Abu Sayyaf or other groups fighting the
respondent, Mrs. Talbin and Col. Kasim himself) but on the knowledge of some other person
government. No evidence was ever offered on whether there was active Jolo police
not on the witness stand (the informant).172
investigation and how and why the Jolo police arrived at this conclusion. The respondent’s
own inquiry in Jolo yielded the answer that he was not missing but was with another
To say that this piece of evidence is incompetent and inadmissible evidence of what it woman somewhere. Again, no evidence exists that this explanation was arrived at based on
substantively states is to acknowledge – as the petitioners effectively suggest – that in the an investigation. As already related above, the inquiry with Col. Ancanan in Zamboanga
absence of any direct evidence, we should simply dismiss the petition. To our mind, an yielded ambivalent results not useful for evidentiary purposes. Thus, it was only the inquiry
immediate dismissal for this reason is no different from a statement that the Amparo Rule – from Col. Kasim that yielded positive results. Col. Kasim’s story, however, confirmed only
despite its terms – is ineffective, as it cannot allow for the special evidentiary difficulties the fact of his custodial investigation (and, impliedly, his arrest or abduction), without
that are unavoidably present in Amparo situations, particularly in extrajudicial killings and identifying his abductor/s or the party holding him in custody. The more significant part of
Col. Kasim’s story is that the abduction came after Tagitis was seen talking with Omar returns and reports made to the CA fared no better, as the CIDG efforts themselves were
Patik and a certain Santos of Bulacan, a "Balik Islam" charged with terrorism. Mrs. Talbin confined to searching for custodial records of Tagitis in their various departments and
mentioned, too, that Tagitis was being held at Talipapao, Sulu. None of the police agencies divisions. To point out the obvious, if the abduction of Tagitis was a "black" operation
participating in the investigation ever pursued these leads. Notably, Task Force Tagitis to because it was unrecorded or officially unauthorized, no record of custody would ever appear
which this information was relayed did not appear to have lifted a finger to pursue these in the CIDG records; Tagitis, too, would not be detained in the usual police or CIDG
aspects of the case. detention places. In sum, none of the reports on record contains any meaningful results or
details on the depth and extent of the investigation made. To be sure, reports of top police
officials indicating the personnel and units they directed to investigate can never constitute
More denials were manifested in the Returns on the writ to the CA made by the petitioners.
exhaustive and meaningful investigation, or equal detailed investigative reports of the
Then PNP Chief Gen. Avelino I. Razon merely reported the directives he sent to the ARMM
activities undertaken to search for Tagitis. Indisputably, the police authorities from the very
Regional Director and the Regional Chief of the CIDG on Tagitis, and these reports merely
beginning failed to come up to the extraordinary diligence that the Amparo Rule requires.
reiterated the open-ended initial report of the disappearance. The CIDG directed a search in
all of its divisions with negative results. These, to the PNP Chief, constituted the exhaustion
"of all possible efforts." PNP-CIDG Chief General Edgardo M. Doromal, for his part, also CONCLUSIONS AND THE AMPARO REMEDY
reported negative results after searching "all divisions and departments [of the CIDG] for a
person named Engr. Morced N. Tagitis . . . and after a diligent and thorough research,
Based on these considerations, we conclude that Col. Kasim’s disclosure, made in an
records show that no such person is being detained in the CIDG or any of its department or
unguarded moment, unequivocally point to some government complicity in the
divisions." PNP-PACER Chief PS Supt. Leonardo A. Espina and PNP PRO ARMM Regional
disappearance. The consistent but unfounded denials and the haphazard investigations
Director PC Superintendent Joel R. Goltiao did no better in their affidavits-returns, as they
cannot but point to this conclusion. For why would the government and its officials engage
essentially reported the results of their directives to their units to search for Tagitis.
in their chorus of concealment if the intent had not been to deny what they already knew of
the disappearance? Would not an in-depth and thorough investigation that at least credibly
The extent to which the police authorities acted was fully tested when the CA constituted determined the fate of Tagitis be a feather in the government’s cap under the circumstances
Task Force Tagitis, with specific directives on what to do. The negative results reflected in of the disappearance? From this perspective, the evidence and developments, particularly
the Returns on the writ were again replicated during the three hearings the CA scheduled. the Kasim evidence, already establish a concrete case of enforced disappearance that the
Aside from the previously mentioned "retraction" that Prof. Matli made to correct his Amparo Rule covers. From the prism of the UN Declaration, heretofore cited and
accusation that Tagitis took money held in trust for students, PS Supt. Ajirim reiterated in quoted,173the evidence at hand and the developments in this case confirm the fact of the
his testimony that the CIDG consistently denied any knowledge or complicity in any enforced disappearance and government complicity, under a background of consistent and
abduction and said that there was no basis to conclude that the CIDG or any police unit had unfounded government denials and haphazard handling. The disappearance as well
anything to do with the disappearance of Tagitis; he likewise considered it premature to effectively placed Tagitis outside the protection of the law – a situation that will subsist
conclude that Tagitis simply ran away with the money in his custody. As already noted unless this Court acts.
above, the Task Force notably did not pursue any investigation about the personal
circumstances of Tagitis, his background in relation to the IDB and the background and
This kind of fact situation and the conclusion reached are not without precedent in
activities of this Bank itself, and the reported sighting of Tagistis with terrorists and his
international enforced disappearance rulings. While the facts are not exactly the same, the
alleged custody in Talipapao, Sulu. No attempt appears to have ever been made to look into
facts of this case run very close to those of Timurtas v. Turkey, 174 a case decided by ECHR.
the alleged IDB funds that Tagitis held in trust, or to tap any of the "assets" who are
The European tribunal in that case acted on the basis of the photocopy of a "post-operation
indispensable in investigations of this nature. These omissions and negative results were
report" in finding that Abdulvahap Timurtas (Abdulvahap) was abducted and later detained
aggravated by the CA findings that it was only as late as January 28, 2008 or three months
by agents (gendarmes) of the government of Turkey. The victim's father in this case brought
after the disappearance that the police authorities requested for clear pictures of Tagitis.
a claim against Turkey for numerous violations of the European Convention, including the
Col. Kasim could not attend the trial because his subpoena was not served, despite the fact
right to life (Article 2) and the rights to liberty and security of a person (Article 5). The
that he was designated as Ajirim’s replacement in the latter’s last post. Thus, Col. Kasim
applicant contended that on August 14, 1993, gendarmes apprehended his son, Abdulvahap
was not then questioned. No investigation – even an internal one – appeared to have been
for being a leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Silopi region. The petition
made to inquire into the identity of Col. Kasim’s "asset" and what he indeed wrote.
was filed in southeast Turkey nearly six and one half years after the apprehension.
According to the father, gendarmes first detained Abdulvahap and then transferred him to
We glean from all these pieces of evidence and developments a consistency in the another detainment facility. Although there was no eyewitness evidence of the apprehension
government’s denial of any complicity in the disappearance of Tagitis, disrupted only by the or subsequent detainment, the applicant presented evidence corroborating his version of
report made by Col. Kasim to the respondent at Camp Katitipan. Even Col. Kasim, however, events, including a photocopy of a post-operation report signed by the commander of
eventually denied that he ever made the disclosure that Tagitis was under custodial gendarme operations in Silopi, Turkey. The report included a description of Abdulvahap's
investigation for complicity in terrorism. Another distinctive trait that runs through these arrest and the result of a subsequent interrogation during detention where he was accused
developments is the government’s dismissive approach to the disappearance, starting from of being a leader of the PKK in the Silopi region. On this basis, Turkey was held responsible
the initial response by the Jolo police to Kunnong’s initial reports of the disappearance, to for Abdulvahap’s enforced disappearance.
the responses made to the respondent when she herself reported and inquired about her
husband’s disappearance, and even at Task Force Tagitis itself.
Following the lead of this Turkish experience - adjusted to the Philippine legal setting and
the Amparo remedy this Court has established, as applied to the unique facts and
As the CA found through Task Force Tagitis, the investigation was at best haphazard since developments of this case – we believe and so hold that the government in general, through
the authorities were looking for a man whose picture they initially did not even secure. The
the PNP and the PNP-CIDG, and in particular, the Chiefs of these organizations together diligence, with the obligation to show investigation results acceptable to this
with Col. Kasim, should be held fully accountable for the enforced disappearance of Tagitis. Court;

The PNP and CIDG are accountable because Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6975, otherwise e. Ordering Colonel Julasirim Ahadin Kasim impleaded in this case and holding
known as the "PNP Law,"175 specifies the PNP as the governmental office with the mandate him accountable with the obligation to disclose information known to him and to
"to investigate and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, bring offenders to his "assets" in relation with the enforced disappearance of Engineer Morced N.
justice and assist in their prosecution." The PNP-CIDG, as Col. Jose Volpane Pante (then Tagitis;
Chief of CIDG Region 9) testified, is the "investigative arm" of the PNP and is mandated to
"investigate and prosecute all cases involving violations of the Revised Penal Code,
f. Referring this case back to the Court of Appeals for appropriate proceedings
particularly those considered as heinous crimes."176 Under the PNP organizational
directed at the monitoring of the PNP and PNP-CIDG investigations, actions and
structure, the PNP-CIDG is tasked to investigate all major crimes involving violations of the
the validation of their results; the PNP and the PNP-CIDG shall initially present
Revised Penal Code and operates against organized crime groups, unless the President
to the Court of Appeals a plan of action for further investigation, periodically
assigns the case exclusively to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 177 No indication
reporting their results to the Court of Appeals for consideration and action;
exists in this case showing that the President ever directly intervened by assigning the
investigation of Tagitis’ disappearance exclusively to the NBI.
g. Requiring the Court of Appeals to submit to this Court a quarterly report with
its recommendations, copy furnished the incumbent PNP and PNP-CIDG Chiefs
Given their mandates, the PNP and PNP-CIDG officials and members were the ones who
as petitioners and the respondent, with the first report due at the end of the first
were remiss in their duties when the government completely failed to exercise the
quarter counted from the finality of this Decision;
extral'>To fully enforce the Amparo remedy, we refer this case back to the CA for
appropriate proceedings directed at the monitoring of the PNP and the PNP-CIDG
investigations and actions, and the validation of their results through hearings the CA may h. The PNP and the PNP-CIDG shall have one (1) full year to undertake their
deem appropriate to conduct. For purposes of these investigations, the PNP/PNP-CIDG investigations; the Court of Appeals shall submit its full report for the
shall initially present to the CA a plan of action for further investigation, periodically consideration of this Court at the end of the 4th quarter counted from the finality
reporting the detailed results of its investigation to the CA for its consideration and action. of this Decision;
On behalf of this Court, the CA shall pass upon: the need for the PNP and the PNP-CIDG to
make disclosures of matters known to them as indicated in this Decision and as further CA These directives and those of the Court of Appeals’ made pursuant to this Decision shall be
hearings may indicate; the petitioners’ submissions; the sufficiency of their investigative given to, and shall be directly enforceable against, whoever may be the incumbent Chiefs of
efforts; and submit to this Court a quarterly report containing its actions and the Philippine National Police and its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, under
recommendations, copy furnished the petitioners and the respondent, with the first report pain of contempt from this Court when the initiatives and efforts at disclosure and
due at the end of the first quarter counted from the finality of this Decision. The PNP and investigation constitute less than the extraordinary diligence that the Rule on the Writ of
the PNP-CIDG shall have one (1) full year to undertake their investigation. The CA shall Amparo and the circumstances of this case demand. Given the unique nature of Amparo
submit its full report for the consideration of this Court at the end of the 4th quarter cases and their varying attendant circumstances, these directives – particularly, the referral
counted from the finality of this Decision. back to and monitoring by the CA – are specific to this case and are not standard remedies
that can be applied to every Amparo situation.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petitioners’ petition for review on
certiorari for lack of merit, and AFFIRM the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 7, The dismissal of the Amparo petition with respect to General Alexander Yano, Commanding
2008 under the following terms: General, Philippine Army, and General Ruben Rafael, Chief, Anti-Terrorism Task Force
Comet, Zamboanga City, is hereby AFFIRMED.
a. Recognition that the disappearance of Engineer Morced N. Tagitis is an
enforced disappearance covered by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo; SO ORDERED.

b. Without any specific pronouncement on exact authorship and responsibility,


declaring the government (through the PNP and the PNP-CIDG) and Colonel
Julasirim Ahadin Kasim accountable for the enforced disappearance of Engineer
Morced N. Tagitis;

c. Confirmation of the validity of the Writ of Amparo the Court of Appeals issued;

d. Holding the PNP, through the PNP Chief, and the PNP-CIDG, through its
Chief, directly responsible for the disclosure of material facts known to the
government and to their offices regarding the disappearance of Engineer Morced
N. Tagitis, and for the conduct of proper investigations using extraordinary
G.R. No. 189155. September 7, 2010.* In Amparo proceedings, the weight that may be accorded to parallel circumstances as
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE WRIT OF AMPARO AND THE WRIT OF HABEAS evidence of military involvement depends largely on the availability or non-availability of
DATA IN FAVOR OF MELISSA C. ROXAS, MELISSA C. ROXAS, petitioner, vs. GLORIA
other pieces of evidence that has the potential of directly proving the identity and affiliation
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, GILBERT TEODORO, GEN. VICTOR S. IBRADO, P/DIR. GEN. JESUS AME
VERZOSA, LT. GEN. DELFIN N. BANGIT, PC/SUPT. LEON NILO A. DELA CRUZ, MAJ. GEN.
of the perpetrators. Direct evidence of identity, when obtainable, must be preferred over
RALPH VILLANUEVA, PS/SUPT. RUDY GAMIDO LACADIN, AND CERTAIN PERSONS WHO GO BY mere circumstantial evidence based on patterns and similarity, because the former
THE NAME[S] DEX, RC AND ROSE, respondents. indubitably offers greater certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of the perpetrators.
An amparo court cannot simply leave to remote and hazy inference what it could otherwise
Writ of Amparo; Doctrine of Command Responsibility; The doctrine of command clearly and directly ascertain.
responsibility 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 Same; Same; An order directing the public respondents to return the personal
doctrine is used to pinpoint liability.—It must be stated at the outset that the use by the belongings of the petitioner is already equivalent to a conclusive pronouncement of
petitioner of the doctrine of command responsibility as the justification in impleading the liability.—To the mind of this Court, the prayer of the petitioner for the return of her
public respondents in her amparo petition, is legally inaccurate, if not incorrect. The belongings is doomed to fail regardless of whether there is sufficient evidence to hold public
doctrine of command responsibility is a rule of substantive law that establishes liability and, respondents responsible for the abduction of the petitioner. In the first place, an order
by this account, cannot be a proper legal basis to implead a party-respondent in directing the public respondents to return the personal belongings of the petitioner is
an amparo petition. The case of Rubrico v. Arroyo (613 SCRA 233 [2010]), which was the already equivalent to a conclusive pronouncement of liability. The order itself is a
first to examine command responsibility in the context of an amparo proceeding, observed substantial relief that can only be granted once the liability of the public respondents has
that the doctrine is used to pinpoint liability. been fixed in a full and exhaustive proceeding. As already discussed above, matters of
liability are not determinable in a mere summary amparo proceeding.214
Same; Same; The doctrine is more aptly invoked in a full-blown criminal or
administrative case rather than in a summary amparo proceeding; The writ of amparo is a Same; Same; Section 1 of the Amparo Rule, which defines the scope and extent of the
protective remedy aimed at providing judicial relief consisting of the appropriate remedial writ, clearly excludes the protection of property rights.—But perhaps the more fundamental
measures and directives that may be crafted by the court, in order to address specific reason in denying the prayer of the petitioner, lies with the fact that a person’s right to be
violations or threats of violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty or security.—Since restituted of his property is already subsumed under the general rubric of property rights—
the application of command responsibility presupposes an imputation of individual liability, which are no longer protected by the writ of amparo. Section 1 of the Amparo Rule, which
it is more aptly invoked in a full-blown criminal or administrative case rather than in a defines the scope and extent of the writ, clearly excludes the protection of property rights.
summary amparoproceeding. The obvious reason lies in the nature of the writ itself: The
writ of amparo is a protective remedy aimed at providing judicial relief consisting of the Same; Same; Inspection Order; An inspection order is an interim relief designed to
appropriate remedial measures and directives that may be crafted by the court, in order to give support or strengthen the claim of a petitioner in an amparo petition, in order to aid the
address specific violations or threats of violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty or court before making a decision.—An inspection order is an interim relief designed to give
security. While the principal objective of its proceedings is the initial support or strengthen the claim of a petitioner in an amparo petition, in order to aid the
determination of whether an enforced disappearance, extralegal killing or threats court before making a decision. A basic requirement before an amparo court may grant an
thereof had transpired—the writ does not, by so doing, fix liability for such inspection order is that the place to be inspected is reasonably determinable from the
disappearance, killing or threats, whether that may be criminal, civil or allegations of the party seeking the order. While the Amparo Rule does not require that the
administrative under the applicable substantive law. place to be inspected be identified with clarity and precision, it is, nevertheless, a minimum
for the issuance of an inspection order that the supporting allegations of a party be
Same; Same; The inapplicability of the doctrine of command responsibility in an sufficient in itself, so as to make a prima facie case. This, as was shown above, petitioner
amparo proceeding does not, by any measure, preclude impleading military or police failed to do.
commanders on the ground that the complained acts in the petition were committed with
their direct or indirect acquiescence; Commanders may be impleaded—not actually on the Same; Same; Same; An inspection order cannot issue on the basis of allegations that
basis of command responsibility—but rather on the ground of their responsibility, or at least are, in themselves, unreliable and doubtful.—Since the very estimates and observations of
accountability.—It must be clarified, however, that the inapplicability of the doctrine of the petitioner are not strong enough to make out a prima facie case that she was detained in
command responsibility in an amparo proceeding does not, by any measure, preclude Fort Magsaysay, an inspection of the military camp cannot be ordered. An inspection order
impleading military or police commanders on the ground that the complained acts in the cannot issue on the basis of allegations that are, in themselves, unreliable and doubtful.
petition were committed with their direct or indirect acquiescence. In which case,
commanders may be impleaded—not actually on the basis of command responsibility—but Writ of Habeas Data; The writ of habeas data was conceptualized as a judicial remedy
rather on the ground of their responsibility, or at least accountability. In Razon v. enforcing the right to privacy, most especially the right to informational privacy
Tagitis(606 SCRA 598 [2009]), the distinct, but interrelated concepts of responsibility and of individuals. The writ operates to protect a person’s right to control information regarding
accountability were given special and unique significations in relation to himself, particularly in the instances where such information is being collected through
an amparo proceeding. unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends.—The writ of habeas data was
conceptualized as a judicial remedy enforcing the right to privacy, most especially the right
Same; Same; In Amparo proceedings, the weight that may be accorded to parallel to informational privacy of individuals. The writ operates to protect a person’s right to
circumstances as evidence of military involvement depends largely on the availability or non- control information regarding himself, particularly in the instances where such information
availability of other pieces of evidence that has the potential of directly proving the identity is being collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends. Needless to
and affiliation of the perpetrators; Direct evidence of identity when obtainable must be state, an indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be extended is the
preferred over mere circumstantial evidence based on patterns and similarity.— 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. This, in the case at bench, the petitioner petitioner was able to see the face of one of the armed men sitting beside her. 17 The van then sped
failed to do. away.
PEREZ, J.:

After about an hour of traveling, the van stopped.18 Petitioner, Carabeo and Jandoc were ordered
At bench is a Petition For Review on Certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated 26 August 2009 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00036-WRA — a petition that was commenced jointly under the
to alight.19 After she was informed that she is being detained for being a member of the
Rules on the Writ of Amparo (Amparo Rule) and Habeas Data (Habeas Data Rule). In its decision, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), petitioner was separated
Court of Appeals extended to the petitioner, Melissa C. Roxas, the privilege of the writs of amparo and from her companions and was escorted to a room that she believed was a jail cell from the sound of
habeas data but denied the latter’s prayers for an inspection order, production order and return of its metal doors.20 From there, she could hear the sounds of gunfire, the noise of planes taking off
specified personal belongings. The fallo of the decision reads: and landing and some construction bustle.21 She inferred that she was taken to the military camp
of Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.22
WHEREFORE, the Petition is PARTIALLY MERITORIOUS. This Court hereby grants Petitioner the
privilege of the Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data. What followed was five (5) straight days of interrogation coupled with torture. 23 The thrust of the
interrogations was to convince petitioner to abandon her communist beliefs in favor of returning to
"the fold."24 The torture, on the other hand, consisted of taunting, choking, boxing and suffocating
Accordingly, Respondents are enjoined to refrain from distributing or causing the distribution to the
the petitioner.25
public of any records in whatever form, reports, documents or similar papers relative to Petitioner’s
Melissa C. Roxas, and/or Melissa Roxas; alleged ties to the CPP-NPA or pertinently related to the
complained incident. Petitioner’s prayers for an inspection order, production order and for the return of Throughout the entirety of her ordeal, petitioner was made to suffer in blindfolds even in her
the specified personal belongings are denied for lack of merit. Although there is no evidence that sleep.26 Petitioner was only relieved of her blindfolds when she was allowed to take a bath, during
Respondents are responsible for the abduction, detention or torture of the Petitioner, said Respondents
which she became acquainted with a woman named "Rose" who bathed her.27 There were also a
pursuant to their legally mandated duties are, nonetheless, ordered to continue/complete the
few times when she cheated her blindfold and was able to peek at her surroundings.28
investigation of this incident with the end in view of prosecuting those who are responsible. Respondents
are also ordered to provide protection to the Petitioner and her family while in the Philippines against
any and all forms of harassment, intimidation and coercion as may be relevant to the grant of these Despite being deprived of sight, however, petitioner was still able to learn the names of three of
reliefs.3 her interrogators who introduced themselves to her as "Dex," "James" and "RC." 29 "RC" even told
petitioner that those who tortured her came from the "Special Operations Group," and that she
We begin with the petitioner’s allegations. was abducted because her name is included in the "Order of Battle."30

Petitioner is an American citizen of Filipino descent.4 While in the United States, petitioner On 25 May 2009, petitioner was finally released and returned to her uncle’s house in Quezon
enrolled in an exposure program to the Philippines with the group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan- City.31 Before being released, however, the abductors gave petitioner a cellular phone with a
United States of America (BAYAN-USA) of which she is a member.5 During the course of her SIM32 card, a slip of paper containing an e-mail address with password,33 a plastic bag containing
immersion, petitioner toured various provinces and towns of Central Luzon and, in April of 2009, biscuits and books,34 the handcuffs used on her, a blouse and a pair of shoes. 35 Petitioner was also
she volunteered to join members of BAYAN-Tarlac6 in conducting an initial health survey in La sternly warned not to report the incident to the group Karapatan or something untoward will
Paz, Tarlac for a future medical mission.7 happen to her and her family.36

In pursuit of her volunteer work, petitioner brought her passport, wallet with Fifteen Thousand Sometime after her release, petitioner continued to receive calls from RC via the cellular phone
given to her.37 Out of apprehension that she was being monitored and also fearing for the safety of
Pesos (₱15,000.00) in cash, journal, digital camera with memory card, laptop computer, external her family, petitioner threw away the cellular phone with a SIM card.
hard disk, IPOD,8 wristwatch, sphygmomanometer, stethoscope and medicines.9

Seeking sanctuary against the threat of future harm as well as the suppression of any existing
After doing survey work on 19 May 2009, petitioner and her companions, Juanito Carabeo government files or records linking her to the communist movement, petitioner filed a Petition for
(Carabeo) and John Edward Jandoc (Jandoc), decided to rest in the house of one Mr. Jesus Paolo the Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data before this Court on 1 June 2009. 38 Petitioner impleaded
(Mr. Paolo) in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac.10 At around 1:30 in the public officials occupying the uppermost echelons of the military and police hierarchy as
afternoon, however, petitioner, her companions and Mr. Paolo were startled by the loud sounds of respondents, on the belief that it was government agents who were behind her abduction and
someone banging at the front door and a voice demanding that they open up. 11 torture. Petitioner likewise included in her suit "Rose," "Dex" and "RC." 39

Suddenly, fifteen (15) heavily armed men forcibly opened the door, barged inside and ordered The Amparo and Habeas Data petition prays that: (1) respondents be enjoined from harming or
petitioner and her companions to lie on the ground face down. 12 The armed men were all in even approaching petitioner and her family; (2) an order be issued allowing the inspection of
civilian clothes and, with the exception of their leader, were also wearing bonnets to conceal their detention areas in the 7th Infantry Division, Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija; (3) respondents
faces.13 be ordered to produce documents relating to any report on the case of petitioner including, but not
limited to, intelligence report and operation reports of the 7th Infantry Division, the Special
Petitioner tried to protest the intrusion, but five (5) of the armed men ganged up on her and tied Operations Group of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its subsidiaries or branch/es
her hands.14 At this juncture, petitioner saw the other armed men herding Carabeo and Jandoc, prior to, during and subsequent to 19 May 2009; (4) respondents be ordered to expunge from the
already blindfolded and taped at their mouths, to a nearby blue van. Petitioner started to shout records of the respondents any document pertinent or connected to Melissa C. Roxas, Melissa
her name.15 Against her vigorous resistance, the armed men dragged petitioner towards the van— Roxas or any name which sounds the same; and (5) respondents be ordered to return to petitioner
bruising her arms, legs and knees.16 Once inside the van, but before she can be blindfolded, her journal, digital camera with memory card, laptop computer, external hard disk, IPOD,
wristwatch, sphygmomanometer, stethoscope, medicines and her ₱15,000.00 cash.40
In a Resolution dated 9 June 2009, this Court issued the desired writs and referred the case The initial investigation revolved around the statement of Mr. Paolo, who informed the
to the Court of Appeals for hearing, reception of evidence and appropriate action.41 The investigators of an abduction incident involving three (3) persons—later identified as
Resolution also directed the respondents to file their verified written return. 42 petitioner Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc—who were all staying
in his house.57 Mr. Paolo disclosed that the abduction occurred around 1:30 o’clock in the
afternoon, and was perpetrated by about eight (8) heavily armed men who forced their way
On 18 June 2009, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a Return of the Writs 43 on
inside his house.58Other witnesses to the abduction also confirmed that the armed men used
behalf of the public officials impleaded as respondents.
a dark blue van with an unknown plate number and two (2) Honda XRM motorcycles with
no plate numbers.59
We now turn to the defenses interposed by the public respondents.
At 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon of 19 May 2009, the investigators sent a Flash Message to
The public respondents label petitioner’s alleged abduction and torture as "stage the different police stations surrounding La Paz, Tarlac, in an effort to track and locate the
managed."44 In support of their accusation, the public respondents principally rely on the van and motorcycles of the suspects. Unfortunately, the effort yielded negative results. 60
statement of Mr. Paolo, as contained in the Special Report 45 of the La Paz Police Station. In
the Special Report, Mr. Paolo disclosed that, prior to the purported abduction, petitioner
On 20 May 2009, the results of the initial investigation were included in a Special
and her companions instructed him and his two sons to avoid leaving the house. 46 From this
Report61 that was transmitted to the Tarlac Police Provincial Office, headed by public
statement, the public respondents drew the distinct possibility that, except for those already
respondent P/S Supt. Rudy Lacadin (Supt. Lacadin). Public respondent Supt. Lacadin, in
inside Mr. Paolo’s house, nobody else has any way of knowing where petitioner and her
turn, informed the Regional Police Office of Region 3 about the abduction. 62 Follow-up
companions were at the time they were supposedly abducted.47 This can only mean, the
investigations were, at the same time, pursued.63
public respondents concluded, that if ever there was any "abduction" it must necessarily
have been planned by, or done with the consent of, the petitioner and her companions
themselves.48 On 26 May 2009, public respondent PC/Supt. Leon Nilo Dela Cruz, as Director of the
Regional Police Office for Region 3, caused the creation of Special Investigation Task
Group—CAROJAN (Task Group CAROJAN) to conduct an in-depth investigation on the
Public respondents also cited the Medical Certificate49 of the petitioner, as actually belying
abduction of the petitioner, Carabeo and Jandoc.64
her claims that she was subjected to serious torture for five (5) days. The public respondents
noted that while the petitioner alleges that she was choked and boxed by her abductors—
inflictions that could have easily produced remarkable bruises—her Medical Certificate only Task Group CAROJAN started its inquiry by making a series of background examinations
shows abrasions in her wrists and knee caps.50 on the victims of the purported abduction, in order to reveal the motive behind the
abduction and, ultimately, the identity of the perpetrators. 65 Task Group CAROJAN also
maintained liaisons with Karapatan and the Alliance for Advancement of People’s Rights—
For the public respondents, the above anomalies put in question the very authenticity of
organizations trusted by petitioner—in the hopes of obtaining the latter’s participation in
petitioner’s alleged abduction and torture, more so any military or police involvement
the ongoing investigations.66 Unfortunately, the letters sent by the investigators requesting
therein. Hence, public respondents conclude that the claims of abduction and torture was no
for the availability of the petitioner for inquiries were left unheeded.67
more than a charade fabricated by the petitioner to put the government in bad light, and at
the same time, bring great media mileage to her and the group that she represents. 51
The progress of the investigations conducted by Task Group CAROJAN had been detailed in
the reports68 that it submitted to public respondent General Jesus Ame Verzosa, the Chief of
Nevertheless, even assuming the abduction and torture to be genuine, the public
the Philippine National Police. However, as of their latest report dated 29 June 2009, Task
respondents insist on the dismissal of the Amparo and Habeas Data petition based on the
Group CAROJAN is still unable to make a definitive finding as to the true identity and
following grounds: (a) as against respondent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in
affiliation of the abductors—a fact that task group CAROJAN attributes to the refusal of the
particular, because of her immunity from suit,52 and (b) as against all of the public
petitioner, or any of her fellow victims, to cooperate in their investigative efforts.69
respondents, in general, in view of the absence of any specific allegation in the petition that
they had participated in, or at least authorized, the commission of such atrocities. 53
Military Action
Finally, the public respondents posit that they had not been remiss in their duty to
ascertain the truth behind the allegations of the petitioner. 54 In both the police and military Public respondent Gilbert Teodoro, the Secretary of National Defense, first came to know
arms of the government machinery, inquiries were set-up in the following manner: about the alleged abduction and torture of the petitioner upon receipt of the Resolution of
this Court directing him and the other respondents to file their return. 70 Immediately
thereafter, he issued a Memorandum Directive71 addressed to the Chief of Staff of the AFP,
Police Action
ordering the latter, among others, to conduct an inquiry to determine the validity of the
accusation of military involvement in the abduction.72
Police authorities first learned of the purported abduction around 4:30 o’clock in the
afternoon of 19 May 2009, when Barangay Captain Michael M. Manuel came to the La Paz
Acting pursuant to the Memorandum Directive, public respondent General Victor S. Ibrado,
Municipal Police Station to report the presence of heavily armed men somewhere
the AFP Chief of Staff, sent an AFP Radio Message73 addressed to public respondent
in Barangay Kapanikian.55 Acting on the report, the police station launched an initial
Lieutenant General Delfin N. Bangit (Lt. Gen. Bangit), the Commanding General of the
investigation.56
Army, relaying the order to cause an investigation on the abduction of the petitioner.74
For his part, and taking cue from the allegations in the amparo petition, public respondent The foregoing notwithstanding, however, the Court of Appeals was not convinced that the
Lt. Gen. Bangit instructed public respondent Major General Ralph A. Villanueva (Maj. Gen. military or any other person acting under the acquiescence of the government, were
Villanueva), the Commander of the 7th Infantry Division of the Army based in Fort responsible for the abduction and torture of the petitioner.89 The appellate court stressed
Magsaysay, to set in motion an investigation regarding the possible involvement of any that, judging by her own statements, the petitioner merely "believed" that the military was
personnel assigned at the camp in the purported abduction of the petitioner. 75 In turn, behind her abduction.90 Thus, the Court of Appeals absolved the public respondents from
public respondent Maj. Gen. Villanueva tapped the Office of the Provost Marshal (OPV) of any complicity in the abduction and torture of petitioner.91 The petition was likewise
the 7th Infantry Division, to conduct the investigation.76 dismissed as against public respondent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in view of her
immunity from suit.92
On 23 June 2009, the OPV of the 7th Infantry Division released an Investigation
Report77 detailing the results of its inquiry. In substance, the report described petitioner’s Accordingly, the petitioner’s prayers for the return of her personal belongings were
allegations as "opinionated" and thereby cleared the military from any involvement in her denied.93 Petitioner’s prayers for an inspection order and production order also met the
alleged abduction and torture.78 same fate.94

The Decision of the Court of Appeals Hence, this appeal by the petitioner.

In its Decision,79 the Court of Appeals gave due weight and consideration to the petitioner’s AMPARO
version that she was indeed abducted and then subjected to torture for five (5) straight days.
The appellate court noted the sincerity and resolve by which the petitioner affirmed the
A. Petitioner first contends that the Court of Appeals erred in absolving the public
contents of her affidavits in open court, and was thereby convinced that the latter was
respondents from any responsibility in her abduction and torture.95 Corollary to this,
telling the truth.80
petitioner also finds fault on the part of Court of Appeals in denying her prayer for the
return of her personal belongings.96
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals disregarded the argument of the public
respondents that the abduction of the petitioner was "stage managed," as it is merely based
Petitioner insists that the manner by which her abduction and torture was carried out, as
on an unfounded speculation that only the latter and her companions knew where they were
well as the sounds of construction, gun-fire and airplanes that she heard while in detention,
staying at the time they were forcibly taken.81 The Court of Appeals further stressed that
as these were detailed in her two affidavits and affirmed by her in open court, are already
the Medical Certificate of the petitioner can only affirm the existence of a true abduction, as
sufficient evidence to prove government involvement.97
its findings are reflective of the very injuries the latter claims to have sustained during her
harrowing ordeal, particularly when she was handcuffed and then dragged by her abductors
onto their van.82 Proceeding from such assumption, petitioner invokes the doctrine of command responsibility
to implicate the high-ranking civilian and military authorities she impleaded as
respondents in her amparo petition.98 Thus, petitioner seeks from this Court a
The Court of Appeals also recognized the existence of an ongoing threat against the security
pronouncement holding the respondents as complicit in her abduction and torture, as well
of the petitioner, as manifested in the attempts of "RC" to contact and monitor her, even
as liable for the return of her belongings.99
after she was released.83 This threat, according to the Court of Appeals, is all the more
compounded by the failure of the police authorities to identify the material perpetrators who
are still at large.84 Thus, the appellate court extended to the petitioner the privilege of the Command Responsibility in Amparo Proceedings
writ of amparo by directing the public respondents to afford protection to the former, as well
as continuing, under the norm of extraordinary diligence, their existing investigations It must be stated at the outset that the use by the petitioner of the doctrine of command
involving the abduction.85 responsibility as the justification in impleading the public respondents in her amparo
petition, is legally inaccurate, if not incorrect. The doctrine of command responsibility is a
The Court of Appeals likewise observed a transgression of the right to informational privacy rule of substantive law that establishes liability and, by this account, cannot be a proper
of the petitioner, noting the existence of "records of investigations" that concerns the legal basis to implead a party-respondent in an amparo petition.100
petitioner as a suspected member of the CPP-NPA.86The appellate court derived the
existence of such records from a photograph and video file presented in a press conference The case of Rubrico v. Arroyo,101 which was the first to examine command responsibility in
by party-list representatives Jovito Palparan (Palparan) and Pastor Alcover (Alcover), which the context of an amparo proceeding, observed that the doctrine is used to pinpoint liability.
allegedly show the petitioner participating in rebel exercises. Representative Alcover also Rubrico notes that:102
revealed that the photograph and video came from a female CPP-NPA member who wanted
out of the organization. According to the Court of Appeals, the proliferation of the
photograph and video, as well as any form of media, insinuating that petitioner is part of The evolution of the command responsibility doctrine finds its context in the development of
the CPP-NPA does not only constitute a violation of the right to privacy of the petitioner but laws of war and armed combats. According to Fr. Bernas, "command responsibility," in its
also puts further strain on her already volatile security. 87 To this end, the appellate court simplest terms, means the "responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by
granted the privilege of the writ of habeas data mandating the public respondents to refrain subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons subject to their control in
from distributing to the public any records, in whatever form, relative to petitioner’s alleged international wars or domestic conflict."103 In this sense, command responsibility is properly
ties with the CPP-NPA or pertinently related to her abduction and torture.88 a form of criminal complicity. The Hague Conventions of 1907 adopted the doctrine of
command responsibility,104foreshadowing the present-day precept of holding a superior To establish such assumption, petitioner attempted to show that it was government agents
accountable for the atrocities committed by his subordinates should he be remiss in his duty who were behind her ordeal. Thus, the petitioner calls attention to the circumstances
of control over them. As then formulated, command responsibility is "an omission mode of surrounding her abduction and torture—i.e., the forcible taking in broad daylight; use of
individual criminal liability," whereby the superior is made responsible for crimes vehicles with no license plates; utilization of blindfolds; conducting interrogations to elicit
committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators105 (as communist inclinations; and the infliction of physical abuse—which, according to her, is
opposed to crimes he ordered). (Emphasis in the orginal, underscoring supplied) consistent with the way enforced disappearances are being practiced by the military or
other state forces.112
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 Moreover, petitioner also claims that she was held inside the military camp Fort
in a summary amparo proceeding. The obvious reason lies in the nature of the writ itself: Magsaysay—a conclusion that she was able to infer from the travel time required to reach
the place where she was actually detained, and also from the sounds of construction, gun-
fire and airplanes she heard while thereat.113
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 We are not impressed. The totality of the evidence presented by the petitioner does not
security.106 While the principal objective of its proceedings is the initial determination of inspire reasonable conclusion that her abductors were military or police personnel and that
whether an enforced disappearance, extralegal killing or threats thereof had transpired— she was detained at Fort Magsaysay.
the writ does not, by so doing, fix liability for such disappearance, killing or threats,
whether that may be criminal, civil or administrative under the applicable substantive
First. The similarity between the circumstances attending a particular case of abduction
law.107 The rationale underpinning this peculiar nature of an amparo writ has been, in turn,
with those surrounding previous instances of enforced disappearances does not, necessarily,
clearly set forth in the landmark case of The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo: 108
carry sufficient weight to prove that the government orchestrated such abduction. We opine
that insofar as the present case is concerned, the perceived similarity cannot stand as
x x x The remedy provides rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only substantial evidence of the involvement of the government.
substantial evidence to make the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is not an action to
determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages requiring
preponderance of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring substantial evidence that will In amparo proceedings, the weight that may be accorded to parallel circumstances as
require full and exhaustive proceedings.109(Emphasis supplied) 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
It must be clarified, however, that the inapplicability of the doctrine of command of the perpetrators. Direct evidence of identity, when obtainable, must be preferred over
responsibility in an amparo proceeding does not, by any measure, preclude impleading mere circumstantial evidence based on patterns and similarity, because the former
military or police commanders on the ground that the complained acts in the petition were indubitably offers greater certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of the perpetrators.
committed with their direct or indirect acquiescence. In which case, commanders may be An amparo court cannot simply leave to remote and hazy inference what it could otherwise
impleaded—not actually on the basis of command responsibility—but rather on the ground clearly and directly ascertain.
of their responsibility, or at least accountability. In Razon v. Tagitis,110 the distinct, but
interrelated concepts of responsibility and accountability were given special and unique In the case at bench, petitioner was, in fact, able to include in her Offer of Exhibits,114 the
significations in relation to an amparo proceeding, to wit: cartographic sketches115of several of her abductors whose faces she managed to see. To the
mind of this Court, these cartographic sketches have the undeniable potential of giving the
x x x Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial greatest certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of petitioner’s abductors.
evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced Unfortunately for the petitioner, this potential has not been realized in view of the fact that
disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the the faces described in such sketches remain unidentified, much less have been shown to be
directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in that of any military or police personnel. Bluntly stated, the abductors were not proven to be
the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies part of either the military or the police chain of command.
that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance
without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or Second. The claim of the petitioner that she was taken to Fort Magsaysay was not
who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the adequately established by her mere estimate of the time it took to reach the place where she
burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of was detained and by the sounds that she heard while thereat. Like the Court of Appeals, We
extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. are not inclined to take the estimate and observations of the petitioner as accurate on its
face—not only because they were made mostly while she was in blindfolds, but also in view
Responsibility of Public Respondents of the fact that she was a mere sojourner in the Philippines, whose familiarity with Fort
Magsaysay and the travel time required to reach it is in itself doubtful. 116 With nothing else
but obscure observations to support it, petitioner’s claim that she was taken to Fort
At any rate, it is clear from the records of the case that the intent of the petitioner in Magsaysay remains a mere speculation.
impleading the public respondents is to ascribe some form of responsibility on their part,
based on her assumption that they, in one way or the other, had condoned her abduction
and torture.111
In sum, the petitioner was not able to establish to a concrete point that her abductors were Since the very estimates and observations of the petitioner are not strong enough to make
actually affiliated, whether formally or informally, with the military or the police out a prima facie case that she was detained in Fort Magsaysay, an inspection of the
organizations. Neither does the evidence at hand prove that petitioner was indeed taken to military camp cannot be ordered. An inspection order cannot issue on the basis of
the military camp Fort Magsaysay to the exclusion of other places. These evidentiary gaps, allegations that are, in themselves, unreliable and doubtful.
in turn, make it virtually impossible to determine whether the abduction and torture of the
petitioner was in fact committed with the acquiescence of the public respondents. On
HABEAS DATA
account of this insufficiency in evidence, a pronouncement of responsibility on the part of
the public respondents, therefore, cannot be made.
As earlier intimated, the Court of Appeals granted to the petitioner the privilege of the writ
of habeas data, by enjoining the public respondents from "distributing or causing the
Prayer for the Return of Personal Belongings
distribution to the public any records in whatever form, reports, documents or similar
papers" relative to the petitioner’s "alleged ties with the CPP-NPA or pertinently related to
This brings Us to the prayer of the petitioner for the return of her personal belongings. her abduction and torture." Though not raised as an issue in this appeal, this Court is
constrained to pass upon and review this particular ruling of the Court of Appeals in order
to rectify, what appears to Us, an error infecting the grant.
In its decision, the Court of Appeals denied the above prayer of the petitioner by reason of
the failure of the latter to prove that the public respondents were involved in her abduction
and torture.117 We agree with the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, but not entirely with For the proper appreciation of the rationale used by the Court of Appeals in granting the
the reason used to support it. To the mind of this Court, the prayer of the petitioner for the privilege of the writ of habeas data, We quote hereunder the relevant portion 125 of its
return of her belongings is doomed to fail regardless of whether there is sufficient evidence decision:
to hold public respondents responsible for the abduction of the petitioner.
Under these premises, Petitioner prayed that all the records, intelligence reports and reports on the
In the first place, an order directing the public respondents to return the personal investigations conducted on Melissa C. Roxas or Melissa Roxas be produced and eventually expunged
belongings of the petitioner is already equivalent to a conclusive pronouncement of liability. from the records. Petitioner claimed to be included in the Government’s Order of Battle under Oplan
Bantay Laya which listed political opponents against whom false criminal charges were filed based on
The order itself is a substantial relief that can only be granted once the liability of the public made up and perjured information.
respondents has been fixed in a full and exhaustive proceeding. As already discussed above,
matters of liability are not determinable in a mere summary amparo proceeding.118
Pending resolution of this petition and before Petitioner could testify before Us, Ex-army
general Jovito Palaparan, Bantay party-list, and Pastor Alcover of the Alliance for
But perhaps the more fundamental reason in denying the prayer of the petitioner, lies with Nationalism and Democracy party-list held a press conference where they revealed that
the fact that a person’s right to be restituted of his property is already subsumed under the they received an information from a female NPA rebel who wanted out of the organization,
general rubric of property rights—which are no longer protected by the writ of that Petitioner was a communist rebel. Alcover claimed that said information reached them
amparo.119 Section 1 of the Amparo Rule,120 which defines the scope and extent of the writ, thru a letter with photo of Petitioner holding firearms at an NPA training camp and a video
clearly excludes the protection of property rights. CD of the training exercises.

B. The next error raised by the petitioner is the denial by the Court of Appeals of her prayer Clearly, and notwithstanding Petitioner’s denial that she was the person in said video, there
for an inspection of the detention areas of Fort Magsaysay. 121 were records of other investigations on Melissa C. Roxas or Melissa Roxas which violate her
right to privacy. Without a doubt, reports of such nature have reasonable connections, one
Considering the dearth of evidence concretely pointing to any military involvement in way or another, to petitioner’s abduction where she claimed she had been subjected to
petitioner’s ordeal, this Court finds no error on the part of the Court of Appeals in denying cruelties and dehumanizing acts which nearly caused her life precisely due to allegation of
an inspection of the military camp at Fort Magsaysay. We agree with the appellate court her alleged membership in the CPP-NPA. And if said report or similar reports are to be
that a contrary stance would be equivalent to sanctioning a "fishing expedition," which was continuously made available to the public, Petitioner’s security and privacy will certainly be
never intended by the Amparo Rule in providing for the interim relief of inspection in danger of being violated or transgressed by persons who have strong sentiments or
order.122 Contrary to the explicit position123 espoused by the petitioner, the Amparo Rule aversion against members of this group. The unregulated dissemination of said unverified
does not allow a "fishing expedition" for evidence. video CD or reports of Petitioner’s alleged ties with the CPP-NPA indiscriminately made
available for public consumption without evidence of its authenticity or veracity certainly
violates Petitioner’s right to privacy which must be protected by this Court. We, thus, deem
An inspection order is an interim relief designed to give support or strengthen the claim of a
it necessary to grant Petitioner the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Data. (Emphasis
petitioner in an amparo petition, in order to aid the court before making a decision. 124 A
supplied).
basic 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.
While the Amparo Rule does not require that the place to be inspected be identified with The writ of habeas data was conceptualized as a judicial remedy enforcing the right to
clarity and precision, it is, nevertheless, a minimum for the issuance of an inspection order privacy, most especially the right to informational privacy of individuals.126 The writ
that the supporting allegations of a party be sufficient in itself, so as to make a prima facie operates to protect a person’s right to control information regarding himself, particularly in
case. This, as was shown above, petitioner failed to do. the instances where such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to
achieve unlawful ends.
Needless to state, an indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be these proceedings and is the main source of the "evidentiary difficulties" faced by any
extended is the showing, at least by substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened petitioner in any amparo case.129
violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim. 127 This, in the case at
bench, the petitioner failed to do.
Cognizant of this situation, however, the Amparo Rule placed a potent safeguard—requiring
the "respondent who is a public official or employee" to prove that no less than
The main problem behind the ruling of the Court of Appeals is that there is actually no "extraordinary diligence as required by applicable laws, rules and regulations was observed
evidence on record that shows that any of the public respondents had violated or threatened in the performance of duty."130 Thus, unless and until any of the public respondents is able
the right to privacy of the petitioner. The act ascribed by the Court of Appeals to the public to show to the satisfaction of the amparo court that extraordinary diligence has been
respondents that would have violated or threatened the right to privacy of the observed in their investigations, they cannot shed the allegations of responsibility despite
petitioner, i.e., keeping records of investigations and other reports about the petitioner’s ties the prevailing scarcity of evidence to that effect.
with the CPP-NPA, was not adequately proven—considering that the origin of such records
were virtually unexplained and its existence, clearly, only inferred by the appellate court
With this in mind, We note that extraordinary diligence, as required by the Amparo Rule,
from the video and photograph released by Representatives Palparan and Alcover in their
was not fully observed in the conduct of the police and military investigations in the case at
press conference. No evidence on record even shows that any of the public respondents had
bar.
access to such video or photograph.

A perusal of the investigation reports submitted by Task Group CAROJAN shows modest
In view of the above considerations, the directive by the Court of Appeals enjoining the
effort on the part of the police investigators to identify the perpetrators of the abduction. To
public respondents from "distributing or causing the distribution to the public any records
be sure, said reports are replete with background checks on the victims of the abduction, but
in whatever form, reports, documents or similar papers" relative to the petitioner’s "alleged
are, at the same time, comparatively silent as to other concrete steps the investigators have
ties with the CPP-NPA," appears to be devoid of any legal basis. The public respondents
been taking to ascertain the authors of the crime. Although conducting a background
cannot be ordered to refrain from distributing something that, in the first place, it was not
investigation on the victims is a logical first step in exposing the motive behind the
proven to have.
abduction—its necessity is clearly outweighed by the need to identify the perpetrators,
especially in light of the fact that the petitioner, who was no longer in captivity, already
Verily, until such time that any of the public respondents were found to be actually came up with allegations about the motive of her captors.
responsible for the abduction and torture of the petitioner, any inference regarding the
existence of reports being kept in violation of the petitioner’s right to privacy becomes
Instead, Task Group CAROJAN placed the fate of their investigations solely on the
farfetched, and premature.
cooperation or non-cooperation of the petitioner—who, they claim, was less than
enthusiastic in participating in their investigative efforts.131 While it may be conceded that
For these reasons, this Court must, at least in the meantime, strike down the grant of the the participation of the petitioner would have facilitated the progress of Task Group
privilege of the writ of habeas data. CAROJAN’s investigation, this Court believes that the former’s reticence to cooperate is
hardly an excuse for Task Group CAROJAN not to explore other means or avenues from
which they could obtain relevant leads.132 Indeed, while the allegations of government
DISPOSITION OF THE CASE
complicity by the petitioner cannot, by themselves, hold up as adequate evidence before a
court of law—they are, nonetheless, a vital source of valuable investigative leads that must
Our review of the evidence of the petitioner, while telling of its innate insufficiency to be pursued and verified, if only to comply with the high standard of diligence required by
impute any form of responsibility on the part of the public respondents, revealed two the Amparo Rule in the conduct of investigations.
important things that can guide Us to a proper disposition of this case. One, that further
investigation with the use of extraordinary diligence must be made in order to identify the
Assuming the non-cooperation of the petitioner, Task Group CAROJAN’s reports still failed
perpetrators behind the abduction and torture of the petitioner; and two, that the
to explain why it never considered seeking the assistance of Mr. Jesus Paolo—who, along
Commission on Human Rights (CHR), pursuant to its Constitutional mandate to
with the victims, is a central witness to the abduction. The reports of Task Group
"investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights and to
CAROJAN is silent in any attempt to obtain from Mr. Paolo, a cartographic sketch of the
provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights," 128must be tapped in
abductors or, at the very least, of the one who, by petitioner’s account, was not wearing any
order to fill certain investigative and remedial voids.
mask.1avvphi1

Further Investigation Must Be Undertaken


The recollection of Mr. Paolo could have served as a comparative material to the sketches
included in petitioner’s offer of exhibits that, it may be pointed out, were prepared under the
Ironic as it seems, but part and parcel of the reason why the petitioner was not able to direction of, and first submitted to, the CHR pursuant to the latter’s independent
adduce substantial evidence proving her allegations of government complicity in her investigation on the abduction and torture of the petitioner. 133 But as mentioned earlier, the
abduction and torture, may be attributed to the incomplete and one-sided investigations CHR sketches remain to be unidentified as of this date.
conducted by the government itself. This "awkward" situation, wherein the very persons
alleged to be involved in an enforced disappearance or extralegal killing are, at the same
In light of these considerations, We agree with the Court of Appeals that further
time, the very ones tasked by law to investigate the matter, is a unique characteristic of
investigation under the norm of extraordinary diligence should be undertaken. This Court
simply cannot write finis to this case, on the basis of an incomplete investigation conducted 2.) AFFIRMING the denial of the petitioner’s prayer for an inspection of the detention areas of Fort
by the police and the military. In a very real sense, the right to security of the petitioner is Magsaysay.
continuously put in jeopardy because of the deficient investigation that directly contributes
to the delay in bringing the real perpetrators before the bar of justice. 3.) REVERSING the grant of the privilege of habeas data, without prejudice, however, to any
modification that this Court may make on the basis of the investigation reports and recommendations
submitted to it under this decision.
To add teeth to the appellate court’s directive, however, We find it fitting, nay, necessary to
shift the primary task of conducting further investigations on the abduction and torture of
the petitioner upon the CHR.134 We note that the CHR, unlike the police or the military, 4.) MODIFYING the directive that further investigation must be undertaken, as follows—
seems to enjoy the trust and confidence of the petitioner—as evidenced by her attendance
and participation in the hearings already conducted by the commission.135 Certainly, it a. APPOINTING the Commission on Human Rights as the lead agency tasked with conducting further
would be reasonable to assume from such cooperation that the investigations of the CHR investigation regarding the abduction and torture of the petitioner. Accordingly, the Commission on Human
Rights shall, under the norm of extraordinary diligence, take or continue to take the necessary steps: (a) to
have advanced, or at the very least, bears the most promise of advancing farther, in terms of identify the persons described in the cartographic sketches submitted by the petitioner, as well as their
locating the perpetrators of the abduction, and is thus, vital for a final resolution of this whereabouts; and (b) to pursue any other leads relevant to petitioner’s abduction and torture.
petition. From this perspective, We also deem it just and appropriate to relegate the task of
affording interim protection to the petitioner, also to the CHR. b. DIRECTING the incumbent Chief of the Philippine National Police, or his successor, and the incumbent Chief
of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or his successor, to extend assistance to the ongoing investigation
of the Commission on Human Rights, including but not limited to furnishing the latter a copy of its personnel
Hence, We modify the directive of the Court of the Appeals for further investigation, as records circa the time of the petitioner’s abduction and torture, subject to reasonable regulations consistent with
follows— the Constitution and existing laws.

c. Further DIRECTING the incumbent Chief of the Philippine National Police, or his successor, to furnish to this
1.) Appointing the CHR as the lead agency tasked with conducting further investigation regarding Court, the Court of Appeals, and the petitioner or her representative, a copy of the reports of its investigations
the abduction and torture of the petitioner. Accordingly, the CHR shall, under the norm of and their recommendations, other than those that are already part of the records of this case, within ninety (90)
extraordinary diligence, take or continue to take the necessary steps: (a) to identify the persons days from receipt of this decision.
described in the cartographic sketches submitted by the petitioner, as well as their whereabouts; and
(b) to pursue any other leads relevant to petitioner’s abduction and torture.
d. Further DIRECTING the Commission on Human Rights (a) to furnish to the Court of Appeals within ninety
(90) days from receipt of this decision, a copy of the reports on its investigation and its corresponding
recommendations; and (b) to provide or continue to provide protection to the petitioner during her stay or visit to
2.) Directing the incumbent Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), or his successor, and the
the Philippines, until such time as may hereinafter be determined by this Court.
incumbent Chief of Staff of the AFP, or his successor, to extend assistance to the ongoing
investigation of the CHR, including but not limited to furnishing the latter a copy of its personnel
records circa the time of the petitioner’s abduction and torture, subject to reasonable regulations 5.) REFERRING BACK the instant case to the Court of Appeals for the following purposes:
consistent with the Constitution and existing laws.

a. To MONITOR the investigations and actions taken by the PNP, AFP, and the CHR;
3.) Further directing the incumbent Chief of the PNP, or his successor, to furnish to this Court, the
Court of Appeals, and the petitioner or her representative, a copy of the reports of its investigations
b. To DETERMINE whether, in light of the reports and recommendations of the CHR, the abduction and torture
and their recommendations, other than those that are already part of the records of this case, within of the petitioner was committed by persons acting under any of the public respondents; and on the basis of this
ninety (90) days from receipt of this decision. determination—

4.) Further directing the CHR to (a) furnish to the Court of Appeals within ninety (90) days from c. To SUBMIT to this Court within ten (10) days from receipt of the report and recommendation of the
receipt of this decision, a copy of the reports on its investigation and its corresponding Commission on Human Rights—its own report, which shall include a recommendation either for the
recommendations; and to (b) provide or continue to provide protection to the petitioner during her DISMISSAL of the petition as against the public respondents who were found not responsible and/or
stay or visit to the Philippines, until such time as may hereinafter be determined by this Court. accountable, or for the APPROPRIATE REMEDIAL MEASURES, AS MAY BE ALLOWED BY THE AMPARO
AND HABEAS DATA RULES, TO BE UNDERTAKEN as against those found responsible and/or accountable.

Accordingly, this case must be referred back to the Court of Appeals, for the purposes of monitoring
compliance with the above directives and determining whether, in light of any recent reports or Accordingly, the public respondents shall remain personally impleaded in this petition to
recommendations, there would already be sufficient evidence to hold any of the public respondents answer for any responsibilities and/or accountabilities they may have incurred during their
responsible or, at least, accountable. After making such determination, the Court of Appeals shall submit incumbencies.
its own report with recommendation to this Court for final action. The Court of Appeals will continue to
have jurisdiction over this case in order to accomplish its tasks under this decision.
Other findings of the Court of Appeals in its Decision dated 26 August 2009 in CA-G.R. SP
No. 00036-WRA that are not contrary to this decision are AFFIRMED.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY MERITORIOUS. We hereby render a
decision:
SO ORDERED.

1.) AFFIRMING the denial of the petitioner’s prayer for the return of her personal belongings;
G.R. No. 178497. February 4, 2014.* PETITION for Issuance of a Writ of Amparo.
EDITA T. BURGOS, petitioner, vs. GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., LT. GEN. ROMEO P. The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.
TOLENTINO, MAJ. GEN. JUANITO GOMEZ, MAJ. GEN. DELFIN BANGIT, LT. COL. NOEL
Fernandez & Kasilag-Villa for petitioner in G.R. No. 178497.
CLEMENT, LT. COL. MELQUIADES FELICIANO, and DIRECTOR GENERAL OSCAR CALDERON,
respondents.
G.R. No. 183711. February 4, 2014.* RESOLUTION
EDITA T. BURGOS, petitioner, vs. GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., LT. GEN. ROMEO P.
TOLENTINO, MAJ. GEN. JUANITO GOMEZ, MAJ. GEN. DELFIN BANGIT, LT. COL. NOEL BRION, J.:
CLEMENT, LT. COL. MELQUIADES FELICIANO, and DIRECTOR GENERAL OSCAR CALDERON,
respondents.
G.R. No. 183712. February 4, 2014.* We resolve in this Resolution all the pending incidents in this case, specifically:
EDITA T. BURGOS, petitioner, vs. GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., LT. GEN. ROMEO P.
TOLENTINO, MAJ. GEN. JUANITO GOMEZ, LT. COL. MELQUIADES FELICIANO, and LT. COL.
(a) The determination of the relevance and advisability of the public disclosure of the documents
NOEL CLEMENT, respondents.
submitted by respondents President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Lt. Gen. Romeo P. Tolentino, Maj.
G.R. No. 183713. February 4, 2014.*
Gen. Juanito Gomez, Maj. Gen. Delfin Bangit, Lt. Col. Noel Clement, Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano,
EDITA T. BURGOS, petitioner, vs. CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE
Director General Oscar Calderon, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen.
PHILIPPINES, GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR.; Commanding General of the Philippine Army,
Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.; Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano;
LT. GEN. ALEXANDER YANO; and Chief of the Philippine National Police, DIRECTOR GENERAL
and Chief of the Philippine National Police, Director General Avelino Razon, Jr. to this Court per
AVELINO RAZON, JR., respondents.
paragraph III (i) of the fallo of our July 5, 2011 Resolution; and

Constitutional Law; Writ of Amparo; Enforced Disappearances; As the Supreme Court


held in Razon, Jr. vs. Tagitis, 606 SCRA 598 (2009), the writ of amparo merely embodies the (b) The Urgent Ex Parle Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela1 (together with sealed attachments) filed by
petitioner Edita T. Burgos praying that the Court: (1) order the persons named in the sealed
Court’s directives to police agencies to undertake specified courses of action to address the
documents impleaded in CA-G.R. SP No. 00008-WA and G.R. No. 183713; (2) issue a writ of Amparo
enforced disappearance of an individual.—We note and conclude, based on the on the basis of the newly discovered evidence (the sealed attachments to the motion); and (3) refer
developments highlighted above, that the beneficial purpose of the Writ of Amparo has been the cases to the Court of Appeals (CA) for further hearings on the newly discovered evidence.
served in the present case. As we held in Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis, 606 SCRA 598 (2009), the
writ merely embodies the Court’s directives to police agencies to undertake specified
courses of action to address the enforced disappearance of an individual. The Writ FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS
of Amparo serves both a preventive and acurative role. It is curative as it facilitates the
subsequent punishment of perpetrators through the investigation and remedial action that A. The Court’s June 22, 2010 Resolution
it directs. The focus is on procedural curative remedies rather than on the tracking of a
specific criminal or the resolution of administrative liabilities. The unique nature
ofAmparo proceedings has led us to define terms or concepts specific to what the These incidents stemmed from our June 22, 2010 Resolution referring the present case to
proceedings seek to achieve. In Razon Jr. v. Tagitis,we defined what the terms the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the Court’s directly commissioned agency,
“responsibility” and “accountability” signify in an Amparo case. We tasked with the continuation of the investigation of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos’ abduction with
said: Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial the obligation to report its factual findings and recommendations to this Court. This referral
evidence to have participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced was necessary as the investigation by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation
disappearance, as a measure of the remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Provost
directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases against the responsible parties in Marshal, and even the initial CHR investigation had been less than complete. In all of them,
the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies there were significant lapses in the handling of the investigation. In particular, we
that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance highlighted the PNP-CIDG’s failure to identify the cartographic sketches of two (one male
without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or and one female) of the five abductors of Jonas, based on their interview with the
who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the eyewitnesses to the abduction.
burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of
extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance. In this same Resolution, we also affirmed the CA’s dismissal of the petitions for Contempt
and issuance of a Writ of Amparo with respect to President Macapagal-Arroyo who was then
Same; Same; Same; The Supreme Court emphasized that its role in a writ of amparo entitled, as President, to immunity from suit.
proceeding is merely to determine whether an enforced disappearance has taken place; to
determine who is responsible or accountable; and to define and impose the appropriate
The March 15, 2011 CHR Report
remedies to address the disappearance.—As a final note, we emphasize that our ROLE in a
writ of Amparoproceeding is merely to determine whether an enforced disappearance has
taken place; to determine who is responsible or accountable; and to define and impose the On March 15, 2011, the CHR submitted to the Court its Investigation Report on the
appropriate remedies to address the disappearance. As shown above, the beneficial purpose Enforced Disappearance of Jonas Burgos (CHR Report), in compliance with our June 22,
of the Writ of Amparo has been served in the present case with the CA’s final determination 2010 Resolution. On the basis of the gathered evidence, the CHR submitted the following
of the persons responsible and accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas and the findings:
commencement of criminal action against Lt. Baliaga. At this stage, criminal, investigation
and prosecution proceedings are already beyond the reach of the Writ of Amparo proceeding
Based on the facts developed by evidence obtaining in this case, the CHR finds that the
now before us.
enforced disappearance of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos had transpired; and that his
constitutional rights to life liberty and security were violated by the Government have been documents does not only defy the Supreme Court directive to the AFP but ipso facto created
fully determined. a disputable presumption that AFP personnel were responsible for the abduction and that
their superiors would be found accountable, if not responsible, for the crime committed. This
observation finds support in the disputable presumption "That evidence willfully suppressed
Jeffrey Cabintoy and Elsa Agasang have witnessed on that fateful day of April 28, 2007 the
would be adverse if produced." (Paragraph (e), Section 3, Rule 131 on Burden of Proof and
forcible abduction of Jonas Burgos by a group of about seven (7) men and a woman from the
Presumptions, Revised Rules on Evidence of the Rules of Court of the Philippines).
extension portion of Hapag Kainan Restaurant, located at the ground floor of Ever Gotesco
Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
In saying that the requested document is irrelevant, the Team has deemed that the
requested documents and profiles would help ascertain the true identities of the
xxxx
cartographic sketches of two abductors because a certain Virgilio Eustaquio has claimed
that one of the intelligence operatives involved in the 2007 ERAP 5 case fits the description
The eyewitnesses mentioned above were Jeffrey Cabintoy (Jeffrey) and Elsa Agasang (Elsa), of his abductor.
who at the time of the abduction were working as busboy and Trainee-Supervisor,
respectively, at Hapag Kainan Restaurant.
As regards the PNP CIDG, the positive identification of former 56th IB officer Lt. HARRY
A. BALIAGA, JR. as one of the principal abductors has effectively crushed the theory of the
In his Sinumpaang Salaysay, Jeffrey had a clear recollection of the face of HARRY CIDG witnesses that the NPAs abducted Jonas. Baliaga’s true identity and affiliation with
AGAGEN BALIAGA, JR. as one of the principal abductors, apart from the faces of the two the military have been established by overwhelming evidence corroborated by detained
abductors in the cartographic sketches that he described to the police, after he was shown former Army trooper Dag-uman.
by the Team the pictures in the PMA Year Book of Batch Sanghaya 2000 and group pictures
of men taken some years thereafter.
For lack of material time, the Commission will continue to investigate the enforced
disappearance of Jonas Burgos as an independent body and pursuant to its mandate under
The same group of pictures were shown to detained former 56th IB Army trooper Edmond the 1987 Constitution. Of particular importance are the identities and locations of the
M. Dag-uman (Dag-uman), who also positively identified Lt. Harry Baliaga, Jr. Daguman’s persons appearing in the cartographic sketches; the allegations that CIDG Witnesses
Sinumpaang Salaysay states that he came to know Lt. Baliaga as a Company Commander Emerito G. Lipio and Meliza Concepcion-Reyes are AFP enlisted personnel and the alleged
in the 56th IB while he was still in the military service (with Serial No. 800693, from 1997 participation of Delfin De Guzman @ Ka Baste in the abduction of Jonas Burgos whose case
to 2002) also with the 56th IB but under 1Lt. Usmalik Tayaban, the Commander of Bravo for Murder and Attempted Murder was dismissed by the court for failure of the lone
Company. When he was arrested and brought to the 56th IB Camp in April 2005, he did not witness, an army man of the 56th IB to testify against him.
see Lt. Baliaga anymore at the said camp. The similar reaction that the pictures elicited
from both Jeffrey and Daguman did not pass unnoticed by the Team. Both men always look
Interview with Virgilio Eustaquio, Chairman of the Union Masses for Democracy and
pensive, probably because of the pathetic plight they are in right now. It came as a surprise
Justice (UMDJ), revealed that the male abductor of Jonas Burgos appearing in the
therefore to the Team when they could hardly hide their smile upon seeing the face of
cartographic sketch was among the raiders who abducted him and four others, identified as
Baliaga, as if they know the man very well.
Jim Cabauatan, Jose Curament, Ruben Dionisio and Dennis Ibona otherwise known as
ERAP FIVE.
Moreover, when the Team asked how certain Jeffrey was or [sic] that it was indeed Baliaga
that he saw as among those who actually participated in Jonas’ abduction. Jeffrey was able
Unfortunately, and as already pointed out above, The Judge Advocate General (TJAG)
to give a graphic description and spontaneously, to boot, the blow by blow account of the
turned down the request of the Team for a profile of the operatives in the so-called "Erap 5"
incident, including the initial positioning of the actors, specially Baliaga, who even
abduction on the ground of relevancy and branded the request as a fishing expedition per its
approached, talked to, and prevented him from interfering in their criminal act.
Disposition Form dated September 21, 2010.

A Rebel-returnee (RR) named Maria Vita Lozada y Villegas @KA MY, has identified the face
Efforts to contact Virgilio Eustaquio to secure his affidavit proved futile, as his present
of the female in the cartographic sketch as a certain Lt. Fernando. While Lozada refuses to
whereabouts cannot be determined. And due to lack of material time, the Commission
include her identification of Lt. Fernando in her Sinumpaang Salaysay for fear of a
decided to pursue the same and determine the whereabouts of the other members of the
backlash, she told the Team that she was certain it was Lt. Fernando in the cartographic
"Erap 5" on its own time and authority as an independent body.2
sketch since both of them were involved in counter-insurgency operations at the 56th IB,
while she was under the care of the battalion from March 2006 until she left the 56th IB
Headquarters in October 2007. Lozada’s involvement in counter-insurgency operations B. The Court’s July 5, 2011 Resolution
together with Lt. Fernando was among the facts gathered by the CHR Regional Office 3
Investigators, whose investigation into the enforced disappearance of Jonas Joseph Burgos
On July 5, 2011, in light of the new evidence and leads the CHR uncovered, we issued a
was documented by way of an After Mission Report dated August 13, 2008.
Resolution: (1) issuing anew a Writ of Habeas Corpus and referring the habeas corpus
petition to the CA; (2) holding in abeyance our ruling on the merits of the Amparo aspect of
Most if not all the actual abductors would have been identified had it not been for what is the case; referring back the same to the CA in order to allow Lt. Harry A. Baliaga, Jr. and
otherwise called as evidentiary difficulties shamelessly put up by some police and military the present Amparo respondents to file their Comments on the CHR Report; and ordering
elites. The deliberate refusal of TJAG Roa to provide the CHR with the requested Lt. Baliaga to be impleaded as a party to the Amparo petition; and (3) affirming the
dismissal of the petitioner’s petition for Contempt, without prejudice to the re-filing of the 1) The profile and Summary of Information and pictures of T/Sgt. Jason Roxas (Philippine
contempt charge as may be warranted by the results of the subsequent CHR investigation. Army); Cpl. Maria Joana Francisco (Philippine Air Force); M/Sgt. Aron Arroyo (Philippine Air
To quote the exact wording of our Resolution: Force); an alias T.L. - all reportedly assigned with Military Intelligence Group 15 of Intelligence
Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines - and 2Lt. Fernando, a lady officer involved in the
counter-insurgency operations of the 56th IB in 2006 to 2007;
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and for the foregoing reasons, we RESOLVE to:
2) Copies of the records of the 2007 ERAP 5 incident in Kamuning, Quezon City and the
I. IN G.R. NO. 183711 (HABEAS CORPUS PETITION, CA-G.R. SP No. 99839) complete list of the intelligence operatives involved in that said covert military operation,
including their respective Summary of Information and individual pictures; and

a. ISSUE a Writ of Habeas Corpus anew, returnable to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals
who shall immediately refer the writ to the same Division that decided the habeas corpus petition; 3) Complete list of the officers, women and men assigned at the 56th and 69th Infantry Battalion
and the 7th Infantry Division from January 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007 with their respective
profiles, Summary of Information and pictures; including the list of captured rebels and rebels
b. ORDER Lt. Harry A. Baliaga, Jr. impleaded in CA-G.R. SP No. 99839 and G.R. No. 183711, and who surrendered to the said camps and their corresponding pictures and copies of their Tactical
REQUIRE him, together with the incumbent Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines; the Interrogation Reports and the cases filed against them, if any.
incumbent Commanding General, Philippine Army; and the Commanding Officer of the 56th IB, 7th
Infantry Division, Philippine Army at the time of the disappearance of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos, Lt.
Col. Melquiades Feliciano, to produce the person of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos under the terms the These documents shall be released exclusively to this Court for our examination to determine their
Court of Appeals shall prescribe, and to show cause why Jonas Joseph T. Burgos should not be relevance to the present case and the advisability of their public disclosure.
released from detention;
j. ORDER the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commanding General of
c. REFER back the petition for habeas corpus to the same Division of the Court of Appeals which the Philippine Army to be impleaded as parties, in representation of their respective organizations,
shall continue to hear this case after the required Returns shall have been filed and render a new separately from the original respondents impleaded in the petition; and the dropping of President
decision within thirty (30) days after the case is submitted for decision; and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as party-respondent;

d. ORDER the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commanding General of k. REFER witnesses Jeffrey T. Cabintoy and Elsa B. Agasang to the Department of Justice for
the Philippine Army to be impleaded as parties, separate from the original respondents impleaded in admission to the Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program, subject to the requirements of
the petition, and the dropping or deletion of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as party-respondent. Republic Act No. 6981; and

l. NOTE the criminal complaint filed by the petitioner with the DOJ which the latter may investigate
II. IN G.R. NO. 183712 (CONTEMPT OF COURT CHARGE, CA-G.R. SP No. 100230)
and act upon on its own pursuant to Section 21 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. 3

e. AFFIRM the dismissal of the petitioner’s petition for Contempt in CA-G.R. SP No. 100230, without
prejudice to the re-filing of the contempt charge as may be warranted by the results of the C. The Court’s August 23, 2011 Resolution
subsequent CHR investigation this Court has ordered; and
On August 23, 2011, we issued a Resolution resolving among others:
f. ORDER the dropping or deletion of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as party-
respondent, in light of the unconditional dismissal of the contempt charge against her.
(a) to NOTE the Explanation separately filed by Brigadier Gen. Gilberto Jose C. Roa, Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP), General Ricardo A. David, Jr., AFP (ret.), and Rear Admiral Cornelio A.
III. IN G.R. NO. 183713 (WRIT OF AMPARO PETITION, CA-G.R. SP No. 00008-WA) dela Cruz, Jr., AFP;

g. ORDER Lt. Harry A. Baliaga, Jr., impleaded in CA-G.R. SP No. 00008-WA and G.R. No. 183713, xxxx
without prejudice to similar directives we may issue with respect to others whose identities and
participation may be disclosed in future investigations and proceedings; (c) to LIMIT the documents to be submitted to this Court to those assigned at the 56th Infantry
Battalion (IB) from January 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007, and to SUBMIT these materials within ten
h. DIRECT Lt. Harry A. Baliaga, Jr., and the present Amparo respondents to file their Comments on (10) days from notice of this Resolution, without prejudice to the submission of the other documents
the CHR report with the Court of Appeals, within a non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days from required under the Court’s July 5, 2011 Resolution, pertaining to those assigned at the other units of
receipt of this Resolution. the AFP, should the relevance of these documents be established during the Court of Appeal’s
hearing;

i. REQUIRE General Roa of the Office of the Judge Advocate General, AFP; the Deputy Chief of Staff
for Personnel, JI, AFP, at the time of our June 22, 2010 Resolution; and then Chief of Staff, AFP, (d) to REQUIRE the submission, within ten (10) days from notice of this Resolution, of the Summary
Gen. Ricardo David, (a) to show cause and explain to this Court, within a non-extendible period of of Information and individual pictures of the intelligence operatives involved in the ERAP 5 incident,
fifteen (15) days from receipt of this Resolution, why they should not be held in contempt of this in compliance with the Court’s July 5, 2011 Resolution;
Court for their defiance of our June 22, 2010 Resolution; and (b) to submit to this Court, within a
non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days from receipt of this Resolution, a copy of the documents (e) to REQUIRE the submission, within ten (10) days from notice of this Resolution, of the profile and
requested by the CHR, particularly: Summary of Information and pictures of an alias T.L., reportedly assigned with Military Intelligence
Group 15 of the Intelligence Service of the AFP and of a 2Lt. Fernando, a lady officer in the counter-
insurgency operations of the 56th IB in 2006 to 2007, in compliance with the Court’s July 5, 2011 i. SOI of the officers and enlisted personnel of the 56th IB, 7th ID from January 1, 2004 to June
Resolution.4 30, 2007;

The Respondents’ September 23, 2011 Manifestation and Motion ii. SOI of the intelligence operatives who were involved in the ERAP 5 incident; and

On September 23, 2011, the respondents submitted a Manifestation and Motion in iii. SOI of 2Lt. Fernando who was a member of the 56th IB, 7th ID.8
compliance with the Court’s August 23, 2011 Resolution. Attached to this Manifestation and
Motion are the following documents: In our November 29, 2011 Resolution, we denied the CHR's request considering the confidential
nature of the requested documents and because the relevance of these documents to the present case
had not been established. We referred the CHR to our July 5, 2011 Resolution where we pointedly
a. The Summary of Information (SOI) of the officers and enlisted personnel of the 56th IB, 7th ID
stated that these documents shall be "released exclusively to this Court for our examination to
from January 1, 2004 to June 30, 2007;
determine their relevance to the present case and the advisability of their public disclosure."9

b. The Summary of Information (SOI) of the intelligence operatives who were involved in the ERAP 5
We held that "[w]e see no reason at this time to release these confidential documents since their
incident; and
relevance to the present case has not been established to our satisfaction. It is precisely for this
reason that we issued our October 24, 2011 Resolution and directed the CHR to submit to this Court,
c. The Summary of Information (SOI) of 2Lt. Fernando, who was a member of the 56th IB, 7th ID. 5 within thirty (30) days from receipt of the Resolution, a Report with its recommendations of its
ongoing investigation of Jonas Burgos’ abduction, and the affidavit of Virgilio Eustaquio, if any.
Simply stated, it is only after the CHR's faithful compliance with our October 24, 2011 Resolution
D. The Court’s September 6, 2011 Resolution that we will be able to determine the relevance of the requested documents to the present case." 10

On August 19, 2011, the petitioner filed a Manifestation and a Motion for Clarificatory G. The March 20, 2012 CHR Progress Report and Eustaquio’s Affidavit
Order praying among others that she be allowed to examine the documents submitted to the
Court pursuant to paragraph III (i) of the Court’s July 5, 2011 Resolution. In our September On March 20, 2012, the CHR submitted its Progress Report detailing its efforts to secure
6, 2011 Resolution, we resolved, among others, to:
the affidavit of witness Eustaquio in relation with his allegation that one of the male
abductors of Jonas, appearing in the cartographic sketch, was among the raiders who
(3) DENY the petitioner’s request to be allowed to examine the documents submitted to this abducted him and four others, identified as Jim Cabauatan, Jose Curament, Ruben Dionisio
Court per paragraph (i) of the fallo of our July 5, 2011 Resolution, without prejudice to our and Dennis Ibona (otherwise known as the "ERAP FIVE"). Attached to this Report is
later determination of the relevance and of the advisability of public disclosure of those Eustaquio’s sworn affidavit dated March 16, 2012, which pertinently stated:
documents/materials;6
1. I was one of the victims in the abduction incident on May 22, 2006 otherwise known as ERAP 5
E. The Court’s October 11, 2011 Resolution and because of that, we filed a case with the Ombudsman against Commodore Leonardo Calderon, et
al., all then ISAFP elements, docketed as OMB-P-C-06-04050-E for Arbitrary Detention, Unlawful
Arrest, Maltreatment of Prisoners, Grave Threats, Incriminatory Machination, and Robbery.
On October 11, 2011, we issued a Resolution requiring the CHR to secure Virgilio
Eustaquio’s affidavit, and to submit a report of its ongoing investigation of Jonas’ abduction, 2. On March 16, 2012, I was approached again by the CHR Special Investigation Team regarding the
viz: information I have previously relayed to them sometime in September 2010 as to the resemblance of
the cartographic sketch of the man as described by the two eyewitnesses Elsa Agasang and Jeffrey
Cabintoy in the abduction case of Jonas Burgos;
(1) REQUIRE the Commission on Human Rights to undertake all available measures to obtain the
affidavit of witness Virgilio Eustaquio in connection with his allegation that one of the male
abductors of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos, appearing in the cartographic sketch, was among the "raiders" 3. I can say that the male abductor of Jonas Burgos appearing in the cartographic sketch is among
who abducted him and four others, identified as Jim Cabauatan, Jose Curament, Ruben Dionisio and the raiders who abducted me and my four other companions because the cartographic sketch almost
Dennis Ibona (otherwise known as the "ERAP FIVE"); exactly matched and/or resembled to the cartographic sketch that I also provided and described in
relation to the said incident at my rented house in Kamuning, Quezon City on May 22, 2006.
(2) DIRECT the Commission on Human Rights to submit to this Court, within thirty (30) days from
receipt of this Resolution, a Report, with its recommendations of its ongoing investigation of Burgos’ 4. I am executing this affidavit voluntarily, freely and attest to the truth of the foregoing. 11
abduction, and the affidavit of Virgilio Eustaquio, if any, copy furnished the petitioner, the Court of
Appeals, the incumbent Chiefs of the AFP, the PNP and the PNP-CIDG, and all the present
respondents before the Court of Appeals.7 H. The March 18, 2013 CA Decision

F. The Court’s November 29, 2011 Resolution On March 18, 2013, the CA issued its decision pursuant to the Court’s July 5, 2011
Resolution referring the Amparo and Habeas Corpus aspects of the case to the CA for
appropriate hearings and ruling on the merits of the petitions.
On November 2, 2011, we received a letter dated October 28, 2011 from Commissioner Jose Manuel
S. Mamauag, Team Leader, CHR Special Investigation Team, requesting photocopies of the following
documents:
Petition for Habeas Corpus The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Director General, Philippine
National Police and the Chairman, Commission on Human Rights are hereby DIRECTED to
submit a quarterly report to this Court on the results of their respective investigation.
The CA held that the issue in the petition for habeas corpus is not the illegal confinement or
detention of Jonas, but his enforced disappearance. Considering that Jonas was a victim of
enforced disappearance, the present case is beyond the ambit of a petition for habeas corpus. The filing of petitioner’s Affidavit-Complaint against Maj. Harry A. Baliaga, Jr., et al. before
the Department of Justice on June 9, 2011 is NOTED. Petitioner is DIRECTED to
immediately inform this Court of any development regarding the outcome of the case.12
Petition for the Writ of Amparo

The Respondent’s April 3, 2013 Motion for Partial Reconsideration


Based on its finding that Jonas was a victim of enforced disappearance, the CA concluded
that the present case falls within the ambit of the Writ of Amparo. The CA found that the
totality of the evidence supports the petitioner’s allegation that the military was involved in The Solicitor General, in behalf of the public respondents (the AFP Chief of Staff and the
the enforced disappearance of Jonas. The CA took note of Jeffrey Cabintoy’s positive PNP Director General), filed a motion for partial reconsideration of the March 18, 2013 CA
identification of Lt. Baliaga as one of the abductors who approached him and told him not to decision. The motion made the following submissions:
interfere because the man being arrested had been under surveillance for drugs; he also
remembered the face of Lt. Baliaga – the face he identified in the pictures because he 5. x x x[T]he Director General, PNP, respectfully takes exception to the Honorable Court’s findings
resembles his friend Raven. The CA also held that Lt. Baliaga’s alibi and corroborative that the PNP, specifically the CIDG, "failed to exercise extraordinary diligence in the conduct of its
evidence cannot prevail over Cabintoy’s positive identification, considering especially the investigation." x x x [T]hat this Honorable Court arrived at a conclusion different from that of the
absence of any indication that he was impelled by hatred or any improper motive to testify CIDG, or accorded different credence to the statements of the witnesses presented by the parties,
against Lt. Baliaga. Thus, the CA held that Lt. Baliaga was responsible and the AFP and does not necessarily translate to the CIDG’s failure to exercise extraordinary diligence.
the PNP were accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas.
6. The Chief of Staff, AFP also takes exception to the Honorable Court’s findings that the "Chief of
Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commanding General should be held
Based on these considerations, the CA resolved to:
accountable for Jonas Burgos disappearance for failing to exercise extraordinary diligence in
conducting an internal investigation on the matter. The unwillingness of the respondent officers of
1) RECOGNIZING the abduction of Jonas Burgos as an enforced disappearance covered by the 56th IB to cooperate in the investigation conducted by the CHR is a persuasive proof of the
the Rule on the Writ of Amparo; alleged cover up of the military’s involvement in the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos."

2) With regard to authorship, The AFP and the Philippine Army conducted a thorough investigation to determine the veracity of
the allegations implicating some of its officers and personnel. After the conduct of the same, it is the
conclusion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Army, based on the evidence
a) DECLARING Maj. Harry A. Baliaga, Jr. RESPONSIBLE for the enforced they obtained, that Jonas Burgos has never been in custody.
disappearance of Jonas Burgos; and

7. The Chief of Staff, AFP, also respectfully takes exception to the finding of the Honorable Court
b) DECLARING the Armed Forces of the Philippines and elements of the Armed "recognizing the abduction of Jonas Burgos as an enforced disappearance."
Forces of the Philippines, particularly the Philippine Army, ACCOUNTABLE for
the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos;
xxxx

3) DECLARING the Philippine National Police ACCOUNTABLE for the conduct of an


exhaustive investigation of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. To this end, the PNP That the Honorable Court found a member of the Philippine Army or even a group of
through its investigative arm, the PNP-CIDG, is directed to exercise extraordinary diligence military men to be responsible for the abduction of Jonas Burgos, does not necessarily make
to identify and locate the abductors of Jonas Burgos who are still at large and to establish the the same a case of "enforced disappearance" involving the State. There is dearth of evidence
link between the abductors of Jonas Burgos and those involved in the ERAP 5 incident.
to show that the government is involved. Respondent Baliaga’s alleged participation in the
abduction and his previous membership in the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine
(4) DIRECTING the incumbent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Army, by themselves, do not prove the participation or acquiescence of the State.13
Director General of the Philippine National Police, and their successors, to ensure the
continuance of their investigation and coordination on the enforced disappearance of Jonas
Burgos until the persons found responsible are brought before the bar of justice; I. The CA Resolution dated May 23, 2013

(5) DIRECTING the Commission on Human Rights to continue with its own independent On May 23, 2013, the CA issued its resolution denying the respondents’ motion for partial
investigation on the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos with the same degree of diligence reconsideration. The CA ruled that as far as the PNP was concerned, its failure to elicit
required under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo; and leads and information from Cabintoy who witnessed Jonas’ abduction is eloquent proof of its
failure to exercise extraordinary diligence in the conduct of its investigation. As far as the
(6) DIRECTING the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to AFP was concerned, the CA held that the fact that Lt. Baliaga of the Philippine Army was
extend full assistance to the Commission on Human Rights in the conduct of the latter’s positively identified as one of the abductors of Jonas, coupled with the AFP’s lack of serious
investigation. effort to conduct further investigation, spoke loudly of the AFP leadership’s accountability.
To date, the respondents have not appealed to this Court, as provided under Section 19 of (2) required Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista to submit a written assurance within fifteen (15) days
the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.14 from receipt of the Resolution that the military personnel listed in the submitted After Apprehension
Report can be located and be served with the processes that the Court may serve;

J. The Petitioner’s Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela dated April 1, 2013
(3) issued a Temporary Protection Order in favor of the petitioner and all the members of her
immediate family;
On April 1, 2013, the petitioner filed an Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela asking the
Court to: (1) order the persons named in the sealed documents to be impleaded in CA-G.R. (4) directed the DOJ and the NBI to provide security and protection to the petitioner and her
SP No. 00008-WA and G.R. No. 183713; (2) issue a writ of Amparo on the basis of the newly immediate family and to submit a confidential memorandum on the security arrangements made;
discovered evidence (the sealed attachment to the motion); and (3) refer the cases to the CA
for further hearing on the newly discovered evidence.
(5) directed the NBI to coordinate and provide direct investigative assistance to the CHR as it may
require pursuant to the authority granted under the Court’s June 22, 2010 Resolution. 15
The petitioner alleged that she received from a source (who requested to remain
anonymous) documentary evidence proving that an intelligence unit of the 7th Infantry i. The respondents’ Comment from the petitioner’s Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti
Division of the Philippine Army and 56th Infantry Battalion, operating together, captured Cautela dated June 6, 2013
Jonas on April 28, 2007 at Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. This
documentary evidence consists of: (1) After Apprehension Report dated April 30, 2007; (2)
Psycho Social Processing Report dated April 28, 2007; and (3) Autobiography of Jonas. The On June 6, 2013, the respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed their
petitioner also claimed that these are copies of confidential official reports on file with the comments on the petitioner’s Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela.
Philippine Army.
First, the respondents alleged that the documents submitted by the petitioner do not exist
i. After Apprehension Report dated April 30, 2007 in the concerned military units’ respective records, nor are they in the custody or possession
of their respective units. To support their allegations, the respondents submitted the
following:
This report is a photocopy consisting six pages dated April 30, 2007, addressed to the Commanding
Officer, 7MIB, 7ID, LA, Fort Magsaysay, NE. The report detailed the planning and the objective of
apprehending target communist leaders, among them, one alias "Ramon" who was captured at Ever a. Certification dated May 29, 2013 from Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Jr. Commander, 7th
Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth, Quezon City on April 28, 2007 by joint elements of the 72 MICO and Infantry Division, Philippine Army stating that the documents 16 submitted by the petitioner "do not
S2, 56th IB. This report also listed the names of the military personnel belonging to task exist nor in the possession/custody of this Headquarters."
organization 72 MICO and 56th IB who conducted the operation.

b. Certification dated May 29, 2013, from Lt. Col. Louie D.S. Villanueva, Assistant Chief of Staff,
ii. Psycho Social Processing Report dated April 28, 2007 Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1, 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army
stating that the documents submitted by the petitioner "could not be found nor do they exist in the
records of this Command."
This report details Jonas’ abduction and "neutralization"; the results of his interrogation and the
intelligence gathered on his significant involvements/activities within the CPP/NPA/NDF
organization. c. Certification dated May 24, 2013 from Lt. Col. Bernardo M. Ona, Commanding Officer, 56th
Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army stating that the documents submitted by
the petitioner "do not exist at this unit."
iii. Undated Autobiography

d. Certification dated May 24, 2013 from 1Lt. Donal S. Frias, Acting Commanding Officer, 72nd
This autobiography narrates how Jonas started as a student activist, his recruitment and eventual
Military Intelligence Company, 7th Military Intelligence Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, Philippine
ascent in the CPP/NPA as an intelligence officer.
Army stating that the documents submitted by the petitioner "do not exist at the records or in the
possession of this unit."17
K. The Court’s April 11, 2013 Resolution
The respondents also submitted the affidavits of Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano, Maj. Allan
In our April 11, 2013 Resolution, the Court resolved to require the respondents to Comment M. Margarata and Cpl. Ruby Benedicto, viz:
on the petitioner’s Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela and its attachments,
within ten (10) days from receipt of the Resolution. In the same Resolution, the Court: a. In his June 3, 2013 Affidavit, Col. Feliciano stated:

(1) required BGen. Roa and Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista to fully comply with the terms of Section 1. That I was assigned as Battalion Commander of 56th Infantry Division, 7th Infantry Division, PA
III (i) of the dispositive portion of our July 5, 2011 Resolution within fifteen (15) days from receipt of last 17 January 2007 to 17 August 2007.
the resolution;

2. That I was showed a photocopy of the After Apprehension Report dated 30 April 2007 wherein
members of 56th IB, 7ID, PA were included therein.
3. I vehemently oppose to (sic) the existence of the said document and the participation of my men Command Adjutant of ISAFP concerning T/Sgt. Jason Roxas (Philippine Army), Cpl. Maria Joana
listed thereat. There were no military operations that I have authorized or approved regarding Jonas Francisco (Philippine Air Force), M/Sgt. Aron Arroyo (Philippine Air Force), an alias T.L., all
Burgos. The contents thereof are false and utter fabrication of facts. reportedly assigned with the Military Intelligence Group 15 of the Intelligence Service, AFP (MIG
15, ISAFP). These documents were submitted by ISAFP in a sealed envelope;

b. In his May 31, 2013 Affidavit, Maj. Margarata stated:


c. Profile/Summary of Information (SOI) with a picture of 2LT Fernando PA. This document was
submitted by Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1, PA in a sealed envelope;
1. That I was assigned at 72nd Military Intelligence Company (72MICO), 7th Infantry Division, PA
from 01 July 2006 to 01 July 2008.
2. That I was showed a photocopy of the Psycho-Social Processing Report dated 28 April 2007 and d. A certification issued by 56IB and 69IB, 7ID, PA concerning captured/surrendered rebels;
After Apprehension Report dated 30 April 2007, both of which purportedly came from 72MICO, 7th
Infantry Division, Philippine Army and that on the last page of the Pyscho-Social Processing Report
e. A certification stating the present location and whereabouts of military personnel listed in the
appears my name therein.
submitted After Apprehension Report, dated April 30, 2007, allegedly identified as members of the
3. I vehemently oppose to (sic) the existence of the said documents and the implication of my name in
Task Organization -72 MICO and 56th IB with the inclusion of four (4) separate certifications from
the said documents. The contents thereof are purely a product of wild imagination. I have never seen
Commander, 7ID, PA, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1, 7ID, PA, Commanding
such document until now.
Officer, 72 MICO, and 56Ib, 71ID, PA, respectively, stating the non-existence of the following
4. I can only surmise that these are plainly a fishing expedition on the part of Mrs. Edita Burgos. A
documents: Psycho-Social Processing Report dated 28 April 2007; After-Apprehension Report dated
ploy to implicate any military personnel especially those belonging to the 7th Infantry Division,
30 April 2007; Autobiography of Jonas Burgos; and Picture of Jonas Burgos;
Philippine Army.

f. Affidavit of Compliance of General Emmanuel T. Bautista, AFP, the Chief of Staff, assuring that
c. In her May 31, 2013 Affidavit, Cpl. Benedicto stated: the active military personnel mentioned in the purported apprehension report can be located at their
given locations and be served with the processes that may be issued by the Honorable Court. 19
1. That I was never assigned at 72nd Military Intelligence Company, 7th Infantry Division, PA.
2. That I was showed a photocopy of the Psycho-Social Processing Report dated 28 April 2007 and
OUR RULING
After Apprehension Report dated 30 April 2007, both of which purportedly came from 72MICO, 7th
Infantry Division, Philippine Army and that on the last page of the Psycho-Social Processing Report
appears my name therein. A. On the relevancy and disclosure of the documents submitted to this Court per paragraph
3. I vehemently oppose to (sic) the existence of the said documents and the implication of my name in
III(i) of the fallo of our July 5, 2011 Resolution
the said documents. The contents thereof are false and utter fabrication of facts. How can I ever be at
72MICO if I was never assigned thereat.
4. I have never been an interrogator in my entire military service. I have never been a member of The directive for the submission of the above-mentioned documents arose from our
any operation which involves the name of Jonas Burgos or any other military operation for that determination in our June 22, 2010 Resolution that the PNP-CIDG failed to identify the
matter. I have never seen such document until now.
5. Furthermore, I have never worked with Maj. Allan Margarata or of his unit, 72MICO. 18
cartographic sketches of two (one male and one female) of the five abductors of Jonas, based
on their interview with eyewitnesses to the abduction. For this reason, the Court directly
commissioned the CHR to continue the investigation of Jonas’ abduction and the gathering
Second, the respondents note that none of the documents submitted by the petitioner were of evidence.
signed; a writ of Amparo cannot be issued and the investigation cannot progress on the
basis of false documents and false information.
Based on its March 15, 2011 Report, the CHR uncovered a lead – a claim made by
Eustaquio, Chairman of the Union Masses for Democracy and Justice, that the male
Lastly, the respondents argue that since the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and abductor of Jonas appearing in the cartographic sketch was among the raiders who
CHR are conducting their own investigations of the case, the petitioner’s motion at this abducted him and four others, known as the "ERAP FIVE."
point is premature; the proceedings to be conducted by the CA will be at the very least
redundant.
This prompted the CHR to request copies of the documents embodied in par. III(i) of the
fallo of the Court’s July 5, 2011 Resolution from General Gilberto Jose C. Roa of the Office of
ii. The Respondents’ Compliance dated June 7, 2013 the Judge Advocate General, AFP. Gen. Roa initially denied this request but eventually
complied with the Court’s directive of July 5, 2011 to submit the documents via the
On June 7, 2013, the respondents, through the Office of Judge Advocate General, complied September 23, 2011 Manifestation and Motion and the June 7, 2013 Compliance. In the
with our April 11, 2013 Resolution by submitting the following documents: same July 5, 2011 Resolution, the Court made it plain that these documents shall be
released exclusively to the Court for its examination to determine their relevance to the
present case and the advisability of their public disclosure.
a. Profile/Summary of Information (SOI) with pictures of the personnel of 56th Infantry Battalion
(IB), 69th IB, and 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (PA). These documents were submitted by
the 7th ID in sealed nine (9) small and three (3) big boxes (total of twelve (12) sealed boxes); Pursuant to the Court’s October 11, 2011 Resolution, the CHR submitted its March 20, 2012
Progress Report on its continuing investigation of Jonas’ abduction. Attached to this
b. Investigation Report of the Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) on the Progress Report was Virgilio Eustaquio’s sworn affidavit stating that: (1) he was one of the
2007 "ERAP 5" incident in Kamuning, Quezon City; Profile/Summary of Information (SOI) with victims of the abduction incident on May 22, 2006, otherwise known as the "ERAP FIVE"
pictures of the Intel Operatives involved in the "ERAP 5" incident; and certification issued by the incident; (2) as a result of this incident, they filed a case with the Ombudsman against
Commodore Leonardo Calderon and other members of the Intelligence Service, AFP v. Tagitis,23 the writ merely embodies the Court’s directives to police agencies to undertake
(ISAFP) for arbitrary detention, unlawful arrest, maltreatment of prisoners, grave threats, specified courses of action to address the enforced disappearance of an individual. The Writ
incriminatory machination and robbery; and (3) the male abductor of Jonas appearing in the of Amparo serves both a preventive and a curative role. It is curative as it facilitates the
cartographic sketch shown to him by the CHR was among the raiders who abducted him subsequent punishment of perpetrators through the investigation and remedial action that
and his four companions because it resembled the cartographic sketch he described in it directs.24The focus is on procedural curative remedies rather than on the tracking of a
relation to the ERAP FIVE incident on May 22, 2006. specific criminal or the resolution of administrative liabilities. The unique nature of Amparo
proceedings has led us to define terms or concepts specific to what the proceedings seek to
achieve. In Razon Jr., v. Tagitis,25 we defined what the terms "responsibility" and
After reviewing the submissions of both the respondents20 and the CHR21 pursuant to the
"accountability" signify in an Amparo case. We said:
Court’s July 5, 2011, August 23, 2011 and October 11, 2011 Resolutions, we resolve to grant
the CHR access to these requested documents to allow them the opportunity to ascertain the
true identities of the persons depicted in the cartographic sketches. Responsibility refers to the extent the actors have been established by substantial evidence to have
participated in whatever way, by action or omission, in an enforced disappearance, as a measure of the
remedies this Court shall craft, among them, the directive to file the appropriate criminal and civil cases
At this point, we emphasize that the sworn affidavit of Eustaquio (that attests to the against the responsible parties in the proper courts. Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the
resemblance of one of Jonas’ abductors to the abductors of the ERAP FIVE) constitutes the measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who exhibited involvement in the enforced
sought-after missing link that establishes the relevance of the requested documents to the disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility defined above; or
present case. We note that this lead may help the CHR ascertain the identities of those who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of
disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the
depicted in the cartographic sketches as two of Jonas’ abductors (one male and one female)
investigation of the enforced disappearance.26
who, to this day, remain unidentified.

In the present case, while Jonas remains missing, the series of calculated directives issued
In view of the sensitive and confidential nature of the requested documents, we direct the
by the Court outlined above and the extraordinary diligence the CHR demonstrated in its
Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court to allow the duly-authorized representatives of the
investigations resulted in the criminal prosecution of Lt. Baliaga. We take judicial notice of
CHR to inspect the requested documents in camera within five (5) days from receipt of this the fact that the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 216, has already found probable
Resolution.
cause for arbitrary detention against Lt. Baliaga and has ordered his arrest in connection
with Jonas’ disappearance.27
The documents shall be examined and compared with the cartographic sketches of the two
abductors of Jonas, without copying and without bringing the documents outside the We also emphasize that the CA in its March 18, 2013 decision already ruled with finality on
premises of the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court. The inspection of the the entities responsible and accountable (as these terms are defined in Razon, Jr. v. Tagitis)
documents shall be within office hours and for a reasonable period of time sufficient to allow
for the enforced disappearance of Jonas. In its March 18, 2013 decision, the CA found, by
the CHR to comprehensively investigate the lead provided by Eustaquio.
substantial evidence, that Lt. Baliaga participated in the abduction on the basis of
Cabintoy’s positive identification that he was one of the abductors of Jonas who told him not
To fully fulfill the objective of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, further investigation using to interfere because the latter had been under surveillance for drugs. In the same Decision,
the standard of extraordinary diligence should be undertaken by the CHR to pursue the the CA also held the AFP and the PNP accountable for having failed to discharge the
lead provided by Eustaquio. We take judicial notice of the ongoing investigation being burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation of the enforced disappearance of
conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the NBI, on the disappearance of Jonas. Thus, the CA issued the following directives to address the enforced disappearance of
Jonas.22 In this regard, we direct the NBI to coordinate and provide direct investigative Jonas:
assistance to the CHR as the latter may require, pursuant to the authority granted under
the Court’s June 22, 2010 Resolution. (1) DIRECT the PNP through its investigative arm, the PNP-CIDG, to identify and locate the
abductors of Jonas Burgos who are still at large and to establish the link between the abductors of
Jonas Burgos and those involved in the ERAP 5 incident;
For this purpose, we require the CHR to submit a supplemental investigation report to the
DOJ, copy furnished the petitioner, the NBI, the incumbent Chiefs of the AFP, the PNP and
the PNP-CIDG, and all the respondents within sixty days (60) days from receipt of this (2) DIRECT the incumbent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Director
Resolution. General of the Philippines National Police, and their successors, to ensure the continuance of their
investigation and coordination on the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos until the persons
found responsible are brought before the bar of justice;
B. On the Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela
(3) DIRECT the Commission on Human Rights to continue with its own independent investigation
After reviewing the newly discovered evidence submitted by the petitioner and considering on the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos with the same degree of diligence required under the
all the developments of the case, including the March 18, 2013 CA decision that confirmed Rule on the Writ of Amparo;
the validity of the issuance of the Writ of Amparo in the present case, we resolve to deny the
petitioner’s Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela. (4) DIRECT the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to extend full
assistance to the Commission on Human Rights in the conduct of the latter’s investigation; and

We note and conclude, based on the developments highlighted above, that the beneficial
purpose of the Writ of Amparo has been served in the present case. As we held in Razon, Jr.
(5) DIRECT the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Director General, Philippine As a final note, we emphasize that our ROLE in a writ of Amparo proceeding is merely to
National Police and the Chairman, Commission on Human Rights to submit a quarterly report to the determine whether an enforced disappearance has taken place; to determine who is
Court on the results of their respective investigation.28
responsible or accountable; and to define and impose the appropriate remedies to address
the disappearance.1âwphi1
We note that the respondents did not appeal the March 18, 2013 CA decision and the May
23, 2013 CA resolution denying their motion for partial reconsideration. As shown above, the beneficial purpose of the Writ of Amparo has been served in the
present case with the CA’s final determination of the persons responsible and accountable
Based on the above considerations, in particular, the final ruling of the CA that confirmed for the enforced disappearance of Jonas and the commencement of criminal action against
the validity of the issuance of the Writ of Amparo and its determination of the entities Lt. Baliaga. At this stage, criminal, investigation and prosecution proceedings are already
responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas, we resolve to deny the petitioner’s beyond the reach of the Writ of Amparo proceeding now before us.
prayer to issue the writ of Amparo anew and to refer the case to the CA based on the newly
discovered evidence. We so conclude as the petitioner’s request for the reissuance of the writ Based on the above developments, we now hold that the full extent of the remedies
and for the rehearing of the case by the CA would be redundant and superfluous in light of: envisioned by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo has been served and exhausted.
(1) the ongoing investigation being conducted by the DOJ through the NBI; (2) the CHR
investigation directed by the Court in this Resolution; and (3) the continuing investigation
directed by the CA in its March 18, 2013 decision. Considering the foregoing, the Court RESOLVES to:

We emphasize that while the Rule on the Writ of Amparo accords the Court a wide latitude (1) DENY petitioner Edita Burgos’ Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela;
in crafting remedies to address an enforced disappearance, it cannot (without violating the
nature of the writ of Amparo as a summary remedy that provides rapid judicial relief) grant (2) REFER the petitioner’s Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela, this Resolution and its
remedies that would complicate and prolong rather than expedite the investigations already covered cases to the Department of Justice for investigation for the purpose of filing the appropriate
ongoing. Note that the CA has already determined with finality that Jonas was a victim of criminal charges in the proper courts against the proper parties if such action is warranted by the
enforced disappearance. gathered evidence. The referral to the Department of Justice is without prejudice to the Office of the
Ombudsman’s exercise of its primary jurisdiction over the investigation should the case be
determined to be cognizable by the Sandiganbayan;
We clarify that by denying the petitioner’s motion, we do not thereby rule on the
admissibility or the merits of the newly discovered evidence submitted by the petitioner. We (3) DIRECT the petitioner to furnish the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of
likewise do not foreclose any investigation by the proper investigative and prosecutory Investigation copies of her Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela, together with the sealed
agencies of the other entities whose identities and participation in the enforced attachments to the Motion, within five (5) days from receipt of this Resolution;
disappearance of Jonas may be disclosed in future investigations and proceedings.
Considering that the present case has already reached the prosecution stage, the (4) DIRECT the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court to allow the duly-authorized representatives of
petitioner’s motion should have been filed with the proper investigative and prosecutory the Commission on Human Rights to inspect the requested documents in camera within five (5) days
agencies of the government. from receipt of this Resolution. For this purpose, the documents shall be examined and compared
with the cartographic sketches of the two abductors of Jonas Burgos without copying and bringing
the documents outside the premises of the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court. The
To expedite proceedings, we refer the petitioner’s motion, this Resolution and its covered inspection of the documents shall be conducted within office hours and for a reasonable period of
cases to the DOJ for investigation, for the purpose of filing the appropriate criminal charges time that would allow the Commission on Human Rights to comprehensively investigate the lead
in the proper courts against the proper parties, if warranted, based on the gathered provided by Virgilio Eustaquio;
evidence. For this purpose, we direct the petitioner to furnish the DOJ and the NBI copies of
her Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela, together with the sealed attachments to (5) DIRECT the National Bureau of Investigation to coordinate and provide direct investigative
the Motion, within five (5) days from receipt of this Resolution. assistance to the Commission on Human Rights as the latter may require, pursuant to the authority
granted under the Court's June 22, 2010 Resolution.
As mentioned, we take judicial notice of the ongoing investigation by the DOJ, through the
NBI, of the disappearance of Jonas. This DOJ investigation is without prejudice to the (6) REQUIRE the Commission on Human Rights to submit a supplemental investigation report to
Office of the Ombudsman’s exercise of its primary jurisdiction over the investigation of the the Department of Justice, copy furnished the petitioner, the National Bureau of Investigation, the
criminal aspect of this case should the case be determined to be cognizable by the incumbent Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the
Sandiganbayan.29 Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and all the respondents,
within sixty (60) days from receipt of this Resolution.

As we direct below, further investigation for purposes of the present proceedings shall (7) DECLARE this Writ of Amparo proceeding closed and terminated, without prejudice to the
continue to be undertaken by the CHR, in close coordination with the NBI, for the concerned parties' compliance with the above directives and subject to the Court's continuing
completion of the investigation under the terms of our June 22, 2010 Resolution and the jurisdiction to enforce compliance with this Resolution.
additional directives under the present Resolution.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 193652. August 5, 2014.* Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Infant JULIAN YUSAY CARAM, represented by his mother, MA. CHRISTINA YUSAY Procedure, as amended, and Section 191 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo2 seeking to set
CARAM, petitioner, vs.Atty. MARIJOY D. SEGUI, Atty. SALLY D. ESCUTIN, VILMA B. aside the August 17, 20103 and September 6, 20104Orders of the Regional Trial Court
CABRERA, and CELIA YANGCO, respondents. (RTC), Branch 106 of Quezon City, in Sp. Proc. Case No. Q-10-67604. The RTC had
dismissed petitioner’s petition for the issuance ofa writ of amparo which petitioner filed in
Constitutional Law; Writs of Amparo; The Amparo Rule was intended to address the order for her to regain parental authority and custody of Julian Yusay Caram (Baby Julian),
intractable problem of “extralegal killings” and “enforced disappearances,” its coverage, in its her biological child, from the respondent officers of the Department of Social Welfare and
present form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof.—Section 1 of the Rule Development (DSWD). The factual antecedents as gleaned from the records follow:
on the Writ of Amparo provides as follows: SECTION 1. Petition.—The petition for a writ of
amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is Petitioner Ma. Christina Yusay Caram(Christina) had an amorous relationship with Marcelino Gicano
violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or Constantino III (Marcelino) and eventually became pregnant with the latter’s child without the benefit of
employee, or of a private individual or entity. The writ shall cover extralegal killings and marriage. After getting pregnant, Christina mislead Marcelino into believing that she had an abortion
enforced disappearances or threats thereof. In the landmark case of Secretary of National when in fact she proceeded to complete the term of her pregnancy. During this time, she intended to have
Defense, et al. v. Manalo, et al., 568 SCRA 1 (2008), this Court held: [T]he Amparo Rule was the child adopted through Sun and Moon Home for Children (Sun and Moon) in Parañaque City to avoid
intended to address the intractable problem of “extralegal killings” and “enforced placing her family ina potentially embarrassing situation for having a second illegitimate son.5
disappearances,” its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to
threats thereof. “Extralegal killings” are “killings committed without due process of law, i.e., On July 26, 2009, Christina gavebirth to Baby Julian at Amang Rodriguez Memorial MedicalCenter,
without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings.” On the other hand, “enforced Marikina City.6Sun and Moon shouldered all the hospital and medical expenses. On August 13, 2009,
disappearances” are “attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or Christina voluntarily surrendered Baby Julian by way of a Deed of Voluntary Commitment7 to the
abduction of a person by a government official or organized groups or private individuals DSWD.
acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of the State to
disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the On November 26, 2009, Marcelino suffered a heart attack and died8 without knowing about the birth of
deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of law. his son. Thereafter, during the wake, Christina disclosed to Marcelino’s family that she and the deceased
had a son that she gave up for adoption due to financial distress and initial embarrassment. Marcelino’s
family was taken aback by the revelation and sympathized with Christina. After the emotional
Same; Same; Enforced Disappearances; Words and Phrases; As to what constitutes
revelation, they vowed to help her recover and raise the baby. 9 On November 27, 2009, the DSWD,
“enforced disappearance,” the Supreme Court in Navia v. Pardico, 673 SCRA 618 through Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral issued a certificate 10declaring Baby Julian as "Legally Available
(2012), enumerated the elements constituting “enforced disappearances” as the term is for Adoption." A local matching conference was held on January 27, 2010 and on February 5, 2010, Baby
statutorily defined in Section 3(g) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9851.—This pronouncement on Julian was "matched" with the spouses Vergel and Filomina Medina (Medina Spouses) of the Kaisahang
the coverage of the writ was further cemented in the latter case of Lozada, Jr. v. Bahay Foundation. Supervised trial custody then commenced.11
Macapagal-Arroyo, 670 SCRA 545 (2012), where this Court explicitly declared that as it
stands, the writ of amparo is confined only to cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced On May 5, 2010, Christina who had changed her mind about the adoption, wrote a letter to the
disappearances, or to threats thereof. As to what constitutes “enforced disappearance,” the DSWDasking for the suspension of Baby Julian’s adoption proceedings. She alsosaid she wanted her
Court in Navia v. Pardico, 673 SCRA 618 (2012), enumerated the elements constituting family back together.12
“enforced disappearances” as the term is statutorily defined in Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 9851
to wit: (a) that there be an arrest, detention, abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty; On May 28, 2010, the DSWD, through respondent Atty. Marijoy D. Segui, sent a Memorandum 13 to
(b) that it be carried out by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, the State DSWD Assistant Secretary Vilma B. Cabrera informing her that the certificate declaring Baby Julian
or a political organization; (c) that it be followed by the State or political organization’s legally available for adoption had attained finality on November 13, 2009, or three months after
refusal to acknowledge or give information on the fate or whereabouts of the person subject Christina signed the Deed of Voluntary Commitment which terminated her parental authority and
of the amparo petition; and, (d) that the intention for such refusal is to remove subject effectively made Baby Julian a ward of the State. The said Memorandum was noted by respondent Atty.
person from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time. Sally D. Escutin, Director IV of the Legal Service, DSWD.

Same; Same; Child Custody; Since it is extant from the pleadings filed that what is On July 12, 2010, Noel Gicano Constantino, Marcelino’s brother, sent a letter to Atty. Escutin informing
involved is the issue of child custody and the exercise of parental rights over a child, who, for her that a DNA testing was scheduled on July 16, 2010 at the DNA Analysis Laboratory at the
all intents and purposes, has been legally considered a ward of the State, the Amparo rule University of the Philippines.14
cannot be properly applied.—Since it is extant from the pleadings filed that what is involved
is the issue of child custody and the exercise of parental rights over a child, who, for all On July 16, 2010, Assistant Secretary Cabrera sent a letter 15 to Noel Constantino stating that it would
intents and purposes, has been legally considered a ward of the State, the Amparo rule not allow Baby Julian to undergo DNA testing. Assistant Secretary Cabrera informed Noel Constantino
cannot be properly applied. To reiterate, the privilege of the writ of amparo is a remedy that the procedures followed relative to the certification on the availability of the child for adoption and
available to victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances or threats of a similar the child’s subsequent placement to prospective adoptive parents were proper, and that the DSWD was
no longer in the position to stop the adoption process. Assistant Secretary Cabrera further stated that
nature, regardless of whether the perpetrator of the unlawful act or omission is a public official
should Christina wish to reacquire her parental authority over Baby Julian or halt the adoption process,
or employee or a private individual. It is envisioned basically to protect and guarantee the she may bring the matter to the regular courts as the reglementary period for her to regain her parental
right to life, liberty and security of persons, free from fears and threats that vitiate the quality rights had already lapsed under Section 7 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9523. 16
of life.
PETITION for review on certiorari under the Rules of Court and the Rule on the Writ of Amparo of the orders of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Br. 106.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Alexander L. Bansil for petitioner.
88VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
On July 27, 2010, Christina filed a petition17 for the issuance of a writ of amparo before the
RTC of Quezon City seeking to obtain custody of Baby Julian from Atty. Segui, Atty.
Escutin, Assistant Secretary Cabrera and Acting Secretary Celia C. Yangco, all of the In the same order, Judge Sale alsoacknowledged that the child subject of the case was
DSWD. brought before the court and the petitioner was allowed to see him and take photographs of
him.
In her petition, Christina accused respondents of "blackmailing" her into surrendering
custody of her childto the DSWD utilizing what she claims to be an invalid certificate of On August 17, 2010, the RTC dismissed the petition for issuance of a writ of amparo
availability for adoption which respondents allegedly used as basis to misrepresent that all without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate action in court. The RTC held that
legal requisites for adoption of the minor child had been complied with. Christina availed of the wrong remedy to regain custody of her child Baby Julian. 22 The
RTC further stated that Christina should have filed a civil case for custody of her child as
laid down in the Family Code and the Rule on Custody of Minors and Writ of Habeas
Christina argued that by making these misrepresentations, the respondents had acted
Corpus in Relation to Custody of Minors. If there is extreme urgency to secure custody of a
beyond the scope of their legal authority thereby causing the enforced disappearance of the
minor who has been illegallydetained by another, a petition for the issuance of a writ of
said child and depriving her of her custodial rights and parental authority over him.
habeas corpus may be availed of, either as a principal or ancillary remedy, pursuant to the
Rule on Custody of Minors and Writ of Habeas Corpus inRelation to Custody of Minors. 23
On the basis of the said petition,the RTC, Branch 106 of Quezon City, through its Presiding
Judge, the Honorable Angelene Mary W. Quimpo-Sale, issued a Writ of Amparo18 on July
On August 20, 2010, Christina filed a motion for reconsideration24 arguing that since the
28, 2010 commanding the four respondents to produce the body of Baby Julian at a hearing
RTC assumed jurisdiction of the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo, the latter is
scheduled on August 4, 2010. Respondents were alsorequired to file their verified written
duty-bound to dispose the case on the merits.25 The RTC, however, deniedChristina’s motion
return to the writ pursuant to Section 919 of the Amparo Rule, within five working days from
for reconsideration on September 6, 2010 maintaining that the latter availed of the wrong
the service of the writ.
remedy and that the Supreme Court intended the writ of amparo to address the problem of
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.26
The respondents complied with the writ and filed their Return 20 on August 2, 2010 praying
that the petition be denied for being the improper remedy to avail of in a case relating toa
On September 28, 2010, Christina directly elevated the case before this Court, via a petition
biological parent’s custodial rights over her child.
for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, in
relation to Section 19 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. In her petition, Christina prayed
On August 4, 2010, respondents appeared before the RTC but respondents did not bring the that the Court (1) set aside the August 17, 2010 and September 6, 2010 Orders of the RTC,
child, stating that threats of kidnapping were made on the child and his caregivers. To give (2) declare R.A. No. 9523 unconstitutional for being contrary to A.M. No. 02-6-02-
respondents another chance, the RTC reset the hearing to August 5, 2010. SC,27 which was promulgated by the Supreme Court, and for violating the doctrine of
separation of powers, (3) declare the "enforced separation" between her and Baby Julian as
At the August 5, 2010 hearing, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its violative of her rights to life, liberty and security, and (4) grant her the privilege of availing
appearance as representative of the State and prayed that its lawyers be given time to file the benefits of a writ of amparo so she could be reunited with her son. 28
their memorandum or position paper in this case. In turn, the RTC acknowledged the
appearance of the OSG and allowed its representatives to actively participate in the The only relevant issue presented before the Court worthy of attention is whether a petition
arguments raised during the said hearing. Relative to the matter of the parties submitting for a writ of amparo is the proper recourse for obtaining parental authority and custody of a
additional pleadings, Judge Sale narrowed the issues to be discussed by providing for the minor child. This Court will not belabor to discuss Christina’s argumentsrelating to the
following guidelines, thus: supposedunconstitutionality or R.A. No. 9523 as Congress has the plenary power to repeal,
alter and modify existing laws29 and A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC functions only as a means to
To abbreviate the proceedings, in view of all the manifestations and counter-manifestations enforce the provisions of all adoption and adoption-related statutes before the courts.
made by the counsels, the court enjoined the parties to file their respective position papers
on the following issues: Now, in her petition, Christina argues that the life, liberty and security of Baby Julian is
being violated or threatened by the respondent DSWD officers’ enforcement of an illegal
1. Whether or not this court has jurisdiction over the instant case; Deed of Voluntary Commitment between her and Sun and Moon. She claims thatshe had
2. Whether or not this petition isthe proper remedy based on the facts of the case and prayer been "blackmailed" through the said Deed by the DSWD officers and Sun and Moon’s
in the petition; and representatives into surrendering her child thereby causing the "forced separation" of the
3. Whether or not the prayer in the petition should be granted and custody of the child be said infant from his mother. Furthermore, she also reiterates that the respondent DSWD
given to his biological mother. officers acted beyond the scope of their authority when they deprived her of Baby Julian’s
custody.30

The parties were given five (5) days from today to file their respective position papers based
on these three main issues. They may include other related issues they deem essential for The Court rejects petitioner’s contentions and denies the petition.
the resolution of this case. Set this case for further hearing, if necessary, on August 18, 2010
at 9:00 a.m.21 Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo provides as follows:
SECTION 1. Petition. – The petition for a writ of amparois a remedy available to any person whose right Christina's directly accusing the respondents of forcibly separating her from her child and
to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful actor omission of a placing the latter up for adoption, supposedly without complying with the necessary legal
public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.
requisites to qualify the child for adoption, clearly indicates that she is not searching for a
lost child but asserting her parental authority over the child and contesting custody over
The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof. him.37 Since it is extant from the pleadings filed that what is involved is the issue of child
custody and the exercise of parental rights over a child, who, for all intents and purposes,
has been legally considered a ward of the State, the Amparo rule cannot be properly applied.
In the landmark case of Secretary of National Defense, et al. v. Manalo, et al., 31 this Court
held:
To reiterate, the privilege of the writ of amparo is a remedy available to victims of extra-
judicial killings and enforced disappearances or threats of a similar nature, regardless of
[T]he AmparoRule was intended to address the intractable problem of "extralegal killings"
whether the perpetrator of the unlawful act or omission is a public official or employee or a
and "enforced disappearances," its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two
private individual. It is envisioned basically to protect and guarantee the right to life,
instances or to threats thereof. "Extralegal killings" are "killings committed without due
liberty and security of persons, free from fears and threats that vitiate the quality of life.
process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings." On the other hand,
"enforced disappearances" are "attended by the following characteristics: an arrest,
detention or abduction of a person by a government official or organized groupsor private WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The August 17, 2010 and September 6, 2010
individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 106, Quezon City in Sp. Proc. Case No. Q-10-
the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to 67604 are AFFIRMED without prejudice to petitioner's right to avail of proper legal
acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of remedies afforded to her by law and related rules.
law.
No costs.
This pronouncement on the coverage of the writ was further cemented in the latter case of
Lozada, Jr. v. Macapagal-Arroyo32 where this Court explicitly declared that as it stands, the SO ORDERED.
writ of amparo is confined only to cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances, or to threats thereof. As to what constitutes "enforced disappearance," the
Court in Navia v. Pardico33 enumerated the elementsconstituting "enforced disappearances"
as the term is statutorily defined in Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 985134 to wit:

(a) that there be an arrest, detention, abduction or any form of deprivation of


liberty;

(b) that it be carried out by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of,
the State ora political organization;

(c) that it be followed by the State or political organization’s refusal to


acknowledge or give information on the fate or whereabouts of the person subject
of the amparopetition; and,

(d) that the intention for such refusal isto remove subject person from the
protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.1âwphi1

In this case, Christina alleged that the respondent DSWD officers caused her "enforced
separation" from Baby Julian and that their action amounted to an "enforced
disappearance" within the context of the Amparo rule. Contrary to her position, however,
the respondent DSWD officers never concealed Baby Julian's whereabouts. In fact,
Christina obtained a copy of the DSWD's May 28, 2010 Memorandum 35 explicitly stating
that Baby Julian was in the custody of the Medina Spouses when she filed her petition
before the RTC. Besides, she even admitted in her petition for review on certiorari that the
respondent DSWD officers presented Baby Julian before the RTC during the hearing held in
the afternoon of August 5, 2010.36 There is therefore, no "enforced disappearance" as used in
the context of the Amparo rule as the third and fourth elements are missing.
G.R. No. 202666. September 29, 2014.* the habeas data protection shall be available only against abuses of a person or
entity engaged in the business of gathering, storing, and collecting of data. As provided
RHONDA AVE S. VIVARES and SPS. MARGARITA and DAVID SUZARA, under Section 1 of the Rule: Section 1. Habeas Data.—The writ of habeas data is a remedy
petitioners, vs. ST. THERESA’S COLLEGE, MYLENE RHEZA T. ESCUDERO, and JOHN available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or
DOES, respondents. threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private
individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or
Constitutional Law; Habeas Data Rule (A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC); Writ of Habeas Data; information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the
The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, aggrieved party.
liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official
or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or Same; Same; Same; Habeas data is a protection against unlawful acts or omissions of
storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the public officials and of private individuals or entities engaged in gathering, collecting, or
aggrieved party.—The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right storing data about the aggrieved party and his or her correspondences, or about his or her
to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission family.—The provision, when taken in its proper context, as a whole, irresistibly conveys
of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, the idea that habeas data is a protection against unlawful acts or omissions of public
collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and officials and of private individuals or entities engaged in gathering, collecting, or storing
correspondence of the aggrieved party. It is an independent and summary remedy designed data about the aggrieved party and his or her correspondences, or about his or her family.
to protect the image, privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an Such individual or entity need not be in the business of collecting or storing data. To
individual, and to provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational “engage” in something is different from undertaking a business endeavour. To “engage”
privacy. It seeks to protect a person’s right to control information regarding oneself, means “to do or take part in something.” It does not necessarily mean that the activity must
particularly in instances in which such information is being collected through unlawful be done in pursuit of a business. What matters is that the person or entity must be
means in order to achieve unlawful ends. gathering, collecting or storing said data or information about the aggrieved party or his or
her family. Whether such undertaking carries the element of regularity, as when one
Same; Same; Same; The existence of a person’s right to informational privacy and a pursues a business, and is in the nature of a personal endeavour, for any other reason or
showing, at least by substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened violation of the right to even for no reason at all, is immaterial and such will not prevent the writ from getting to
privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim are indispensable before the privilege of the said person or entity.
writ may be extended.—In developing the writ of habeas data, the Court aimed to protect an
individual’s right to informational privacy, among others. A comparative law scholar has, in Same; Same; Same; The Court saw the pressing need to provide for judicial remedies
fact, defined habeas data as “a procedure designed to safeguard individual freedom from that would allow a summary hearing of the unlawful use of data or information and to
abuse in the information age.” The writ, however, will not issue on the basis merely of an remedy possible violations of the right to privacy.—The Court saw the pressing need to
alleged unauthorized access to information about a person. Availment of the writ requires provide for judicial remedies that would allow a summary hearing of the unlawful use of
the existence of a nexus between the right to privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, data or information and to remedy possible violations of the right to privacy. In the same
liberty or security on the other. Thus, the existence of a person’s right to informational vein, the South African High Court, in its Decision in the landmark case, H v. W,
privacy and a showing, at least by substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened violation promulgated on January 30, 2013, recognized that “[t]he law has to take into account the
of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim are indispensable before the changing realities not only technologically but also socially or else it will lose credibility in
privilege of the writ may be extended. the eyes of the people. x x x It is imperative that the courts respond appropriately to
changing times, acting cautiously and with wisdom.” Consistent with this, the Court, by
Same; Same; Same; Informational Privacy; The writ of habeas data can be availed of developing what may be viewed as the Philippine model of the writ of habeas data, in effect,
as an independent remedy to enforce one’s right to privacy, more specifically the right to recognized that, generally speaking, having an expectation of informational privacy is
informational privacy.—Had the framers of the Rule intended to narrow the operation of the not necessarily incompatible with engaging in cyberspace activities, including
writ only to cases of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances, the above underscored those that occur in OSNs.
portion of Section 2, reflecting a variance of habeas data situations, would not have been
made. Habeas data, to stress, was designed “to safeguard individual freedom from abuse in Same; Same; Same; Online Social Networks; The purpose of an Online Social
the information age.” As such, it is erroneous to limit its applicability to extralegal killings Networks (OSN) is precisely to give users the ability to interact and to stay connected to other
and enforced disappearances only. In fact, the annotations to the Rule prepared by the members of the same or different social media platform through the sharing of statuses,
Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, after explaining that the Writ of Habeas photos, videos, among others, depending on the services provided by the site.—Briefly, the
Data complements the Writ of Amparo, pointed out that: The writ of habeas data, purpose of an OSN is precisely to give users the ability to interact and to stay connected to
however, can be availed of as an independent remedy to enforce one’s right to other members of the same or different social media platform through the sharing of
privacy, more specifically the right to informational privacy. The remedies against statuses, photos, videos, among others, depending on the services provided by the site. It is
the violation of such right can include the updating, rectification, suppression or destruction akin to having a room filled with millions of personal bulletin boards or “walls,” the contents
of the database or information or files in possession or in control of respondents. (emphasis of which are under the control of each and every user. In his or her bulletin board, a
ours) Clearly then, the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Data may also be availed of in cases user/owner can post anything –– from text, to pictures, to music and videos –– access to
outside of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. which would depend on whether he or she allows one, some or all of the other users to see
his or her posts. Since gaining popularity, the OSN phenomenon has paved the way to the
Same; Same; Same; Nothing in the Rule would suggest that the habeas data protection creation of various social networking sites, including the one involved in the case at bar,
shall be available only against abuses of a person or entity engaged in the business of www.facebook.com (Facebook), which, according to its developers, people use “to stay
gathering, storing, and collecting of data.—Nothing in the Rule would suggest that
connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share emphasize at this point that setting a post’s or profile detail’s privacy to “Friends” is no
and express what matters to them.” assurance that it can no longer be viewed by another user who is not Facebook friends with
the source of the content. The user’s own Facebook friend can share said content or tag his
Same; Same; Same; Same; Facebook; Facebook connections are established through or her own Facebook friend thereto, regardless of whether the user tagged by the latter is
the process of “friending” another user.—Facebook connections are established through the Facebook friends or not with the former. Also, when the post is shared or when a person is
process of “friending” another user. By sending a “friend request,” the user invites another tagged, the respective Facebook friends of the person who shared the post or who was
to connect their accounts so that they can view any and all “Public” and “Friends Only” tagged can view the post, the privacy setting of which was set at “Friends.”
posts of the other. Once the request is accepted, the link is established and both users are
permitted to view the other user’s “Public” or “Friends Only” posts, among others. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; There can be no quibbling that the images in
“Friending,” therefore, allows the user to form or maintain one-to-one relationships with question, or to be more precise, the photos of minor students scantily clad, are personal in
other users, whereby the user gives his or her “Facebook friend” access to his or her profile nature, likely to affect, if indiscriminately circulated, the reputation of the minors enrolled in
and shares certain information to the latter. a conservative institution.—In sum, there can be no quibbling that the images in question,
or to be more precise, the photos of minor students scantily clad, are personal in nature,
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Informational Privacy; Before one can have an likely to affect, if indiscriminately circulated, the reputation of the minors enrolled in a
expectation of privacy in his or her Online Social Networks (OSN) activity, it is first conservative institution. However, the records are bereft of any evidence, other than bare
necessary that said user, in this case the children of petitioners, manifest the intention to keep assertions that they utilized Facebook’s privacy settings to make the photos visible only to
certain posts private, through the employment of measures to prevent access thereto or to them or to a select few. Without proof that they placed the photographs subject of this case
limit its visibility.—Before one can have an expectation of privacy in his or her OSN within the ambit of their protected zone of privacy, they cannot now insist that they have an
activity, it is first necessary that said user, in this case the children of expectation of privacy with respect to the photographs in question.
petitioners, manifest the intention to keep certain posts private, through the
employment of measures to prevent access thereto or to limit its visibility. And Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; As a cyberspace community member, one has to be
this intention can materialize in cyberspace through the utilization of the OSN’s privacy proactive in protecting his or her own privacy.—It has been said that “the best filter is the
tools. In other words, utilization of these privacy tools is the manifestation, in cyber one between your children’s ears.” This means that self-regulation on the part of OSN
world, of the user’s invocation of his or her right to informational privacy. users and internet consumers in general is the best means of avoiding privacy rights
violations. As a cyberspace community member, one has to be proactive in protecting his or
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Considering that the default setting for Facebook her own privacy. It is in this regard that many OSN users, especially minors, fail.
posts is “Public,” it can be surmised that the photographs in question were viewable to Responsible social networking or observance of the “netiquettes” on the part of teenagers
everyone on Facebook, absent any proof that petitioners’ children positively limited the has been the concern of many due to the widespread notion that teenagers can sometimes go
disclosure of the photograph.—Considering that the default setting for Facebook posts is too far since they generally lack the people skills or general wisdom to conduct themselves
“Public,” it can be surmised that the photographs in question were viewable to everyone on sensibly in a public forum.
Facebook, absent any proof that petitioners’ children positively limited the disclosure of the
photograph. If such were the case, they cannot invoke the protection attached to the right to Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Considering the complexity of the cyber world and
informational privacy. The ensuing pronouncement in US v. Gines-Perez, 214 F. Supp. 2d, is its pervasiveness, as well as the dangers that these children are wittingly or unwittingly
most instructive: [A] person who places a photograph on the Internet precisely intends to exposed to in view of their unsupervised activities in cyberspace, the participation of the
forsake and renounce all privacy rights to such imagery, particularly under circumstances parents in disciplining and educating their children about being a good digital citizen is
such as here, where the Defendant did not employ protective measures or devices that encouraged by these institutions and organizations.—Considering the complexity of the
would have controlled access to the Web page or the photograph itself. cyber world and its pervasiveness, as well as the dangers that these children are wittingly
or unwittingly exposed to in view of their unsupervised activities in cyberspace, the
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Messages sent to the public at large in the chat room participation of the parents in disciplining and educating their children about being a good
or e-mail that is forwarded from correspondent to correspondent loses any semblance of digital citizen is encouraged by these institutions and organizations. In fact, it is believed
privacy.—Also, United States v. Maxwell, 45 M.J. 406, held that “[t]he more open the that “to limit such risks, there’s no substitute for parental involvement and supervision.”
method of transmission is, the less privacy one can reasonably expect. Messages sent to the
public at large in the chat room or e-mail that is forwarded from correspondent to Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; It is, thus, incumbent upon internet users to exercise
correspondent loses any semblance of privacy.” due diligence in their online dealings and activities and must not be negligent in protecting
their rights.—It is, thus, incumbent upon internet users to exercise due diligence in their
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Setting a post’s or profile detail’s privacy to online dealings and activities and must not be negligent in protecting their rights. Equity
“Friends” is no assurance that it can no longer be viewed by another user who is not Facebook serves the vigilant. Demanding relief from the courts, as here, requires that claimants
friends with the source of the content.—That the photos are viewable by “friends only” does themselves take utmost care in safeguarding a right which they allege to have been
not necessarily bolster the petitioners’ contention. In this regard, the cyber community is violated. These are indispensable. We cannot afford protection to persons if they themselves
agreed that the digital images under this setting still remain to be outside the confines of did nothing to place the matter within the confines of their private zone. OSN users must be
the zones of privacy in view of the following: (1) Facebook “allows the world to be more open mindful enough to learn the use of privacy tools, to use them if they desire to keep the
and connected by giving its users the tools to interact and share in any conceivable way”; (2) information private, and to keep track of changes in the available privacy settings, such as
A good number of Facebook users “befriend” other users who are total strangers; (3) The those of Facebook, especially because Facebook is notorious for changing these settings and
sheer number of “Friends” one user has, usually by the hundreds; and (4) A user’s Facebook the site’s layout often.
friend can “share” the former’s post, or “tag” others who are not Facebook friends with the PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Br. 14.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

former, despite its being visible only to his or her own Facebook friends. It is well to Mercado & Associates for petitioners.
Florido & Largo Law Office for respondents.
VELASCO, JR., J.:
3. Smoking and drinking alcoholicbeverages in public places;

The individual's desire for privacy is never absolute, since participation in society is an
4. Apparel that exposes the underwear;
equally powerful desire. Thus each individual is continually engaged in a personal
adjustment process in which he balances the desire for privacy with the desire for disclosure
and communication of himself to others, in light of the environmental conditions and social 5. Clothing that advocates unhealthy behaviour; depicts obscenity; contains
norms set by the society in which he lives. sexually suggestive messages, language or symbols; and 6. Posing and uploading
pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure.
- Alan Westin, Privacy and Freedom (1967)
On March 1, 2012, Julia, Julienne, Angela, and the other students in the pictures in
question, reported, as required, to the office of Sr. Celeste Ma. Purisima Pe (Sr. Purisima),
The Case
STC’s high school principal and ICM6 Directress. They claimed that during the meeting,
they were castigated and verbally abused by the STC officials present in the conference,
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, in including Assistant Principal Mussolini S. Yap (Yap), Roswinda Jumiller, and Tigol. What is
relation to Section 19 of A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC,1 otherwise known as the "Rule on the Writ of more, Sr. Purisima informed their parents the following day that, as part of their penalty,
Habeas Data." Petitioners herein assail the July 27, 2012 Decision2 of the Regional Trial they are barred from joining the commencement exercises scheduled on March 30, 2012.
Court, Branch 14 in Cebu City (RTC) in SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB, which dismissed their
habeas data petition.
A week before graduation, or on March 23, 2012, Angela’s mother, Dr. Armenia M. Tan
(Tan), filed a Petition for Injunction and Damages before the RTC of Cebu City against STC,
The Facts et al., docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-38594.7In it, Tan prayed that defendants therein be
enjoined from implementing the sanction that precluded Angela from joining the
commencement exercises.
Nenita Julia V. Daluz (Julia) and Julienne Vida Suzara (Julienne), both minors, were,
during the period material, graduating high school students at St. Theresa's College (STC),
Cebu City. Sometime in January 2012, while changing into their swimsuits for a beach On March 25, 2012,petitioner Rhonda Ave Vivares (Vivares), the mother of Julia, joined the
party they were about to attend, Julia and Julienne, along with several others, took digital fray as an intervenor. On March 28, 2012, defendants inCivil Case No. CEB-38594 filed
pictures of themselves clad only in their undergarments. These pictures were then uploaded their memorandum, containing printed copies of the photographs in issue as annexes. That
by Angela Lindsay Tan (Angela) on her Facebook3 profile. same day, the RTC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing the students to
attend the graduation ceremony, to which STC filed a motion for reconsideration.
Back at the school, Mylene Rheza T. Escudero (Escudero), a computer teacher at STC’s high
school department, learned from her students that some seniors at STC posted pictures Despite the issuance of the TRO,STC, nevertheless, barred the sanctioned students from
online, depicting themselves from the waist up, dressed only in brassieres. Escudero then participating in the graduation rites, arguing that, on the date of the commencement
asked her students if they knew who the girls in the photos are. In turn, they readily exercises, its adverted motion for reconsideration on the issuance ofthe TRO remained
identified Julia, Julienne, and Chloe Lourdes Taboada (Chloe), among others. unresolved.

Using STC’s computers, Escudero’s students logged in to their respective personal Facebook Thereafter, petitioners filed before the RTC a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Habeas
accounts and showed her photos of the identified students, which include: (a) Julia and Data, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 19251-CEB8 on the basis of the following considerations:
Julienne drinking hard liquor and smoking cigarettes inside a bar; and (b) Julia and
Julienne along the streets of Cebu wearing articles of clothing that show virtually the
1. The photos of their children in their undergarments (e.g., bra) were taken for
entirety of their black brassieres. What is more, Escudero’s students claimed that there
posterity before they changed into their swimsuits on the occasion of a birthday
were times when access to or the availability of the identified students’ photos was not
beach party;
confined to the girls’ Facebook friends,4but were, in fact, viewable by any Facebook user.5

2. The privacy setting of their children’s Facebook accounts was set at "Friends
Upon discovery, Escudero reported the matter and, through one of her student’s Facebook
Only." They, thus, have a reasonable expectation of privacy which must be
page, showed the photosto Kristine Rose Tigol (Tigol), STC’s Discipline-in-Charge, for
respected.
appropriate action. Thereafter, following an investigation, STC found the identified students
to have deported themselves in a manner proscribed by the school’s Student Handbook, to
wit: 3. Respondents, being involved in the field of education, knew or ought to have
known of laws that safeguard the right to privacy. Corollarily, respondents knew
or ought to have known that the girls, whose privacy has been invaded, are the
1. Possession of alcoholic drinks outside the school campus;
victims in this case, and not the offenders. Worse, after viewing the photos, the
minors were called "immoral" and were punished outright;
2. Engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts;
4. The photos accessed belong to the girls and, thus, cannot be used and Not satisfied with the outcome, petitioners now come before this Court pursuant to Section
reproduced without their consent. Escudero, however, violated their rights by 19 of the Rule on Habeas Data.10
saving digital copies of the photos and by subsequently showing them to STC’s
officials. Thus, the Facebook accounts of petitioners’ children were intruded upon;
The Issues

5. The intrusion into the Facebook accounts, as well as the copying of information,
The main issue to be threshed out inthis case is whether or not a writ of habeas datashould
data, and digital images happened at STC’s Computer Laboratory; and
be issued given the factual milieu. Crucial in resolving the controversy, however, is the
pivotal point of whether or not there was indeed an actual or threatened violation of the
6. All the data and digital images that were extracted were boldly broadcasted by right to privacy in the life, liberty, or security of the minors involved in this case.
respondents through their memorandum submitted to the RTC in connection with
Civil Case No. CEB-38594. To petitioners, the interplay of the foregoing
Our Ruling
constitutes an invasion of their children’s privacy and, thus, prayed that: (a) a writ
of habeas databe issued; (b) respondents be ordered to surrender and deposit with
the court all soft and printed copies of the subjectdata before or at the preliminary We find no merit in the petition.
hearing; and (c) after trial, judgment be rendered declaring all information, data,
and digital images accessed, saved or stored, reproduced, spread and used, to have Procedural issues concerning the availability of the Writ of Habeas Data
been illegally obtained inviolation of the children’s right to privacy.

The writ of habeas datais a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life,
Finding the petition sufficient in form and substance, the RTC, through an Order dated July liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official
5, 2012, issued the writ of habeas data. Through the same Order, herein respondents were or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or
directed to file their verified written return, together with the supporting affidavits, within storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the
five (5) working days from service of the writ. aggrieved party.11 It is an independent and summary remedy designed to protect the image,
privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an individual, and to provide a
In time, respondents complied with the RTC’s directive and filed their verified written forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy. It seeks to protect a
return, laying down the following grounds for the denial of the petition, viz: (a) petitioners person’s right to control information regarding oneself, particularly in instances in which
are not the proper parties to file the petition; (b) petitioners are engaging in forum shopping; such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful
(c) the instant case is not one where a writ of habeas data may issue;and (d) there can be no ends.12
violation of their right to privacy as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on
Facebook. In developing the writ of habeas data, the Court aimed to protect an individual’s right to
informational privacy, among others. A comparative law scholar has, in fact, defined habeas
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court dataas "a procedure designed to safeguard individual freedom from abuse in the information
age."13 The writ, however, will not issue on the basis merely of an alleged unauthorized
access to information about a person.Availment of the writ requires the existence of a nexus
On July 27, 2012, the RTC rendered a Decision dismissing the petition for habeas data. The
between the right to privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on the
dispositive portion of the Decision pertinently states:
other.14 Thus, the existence of a person’s right to informational privacy and a showing, at
least by substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED. life, liberty or security of the victim are indispensable before the privilege of the writ may be
extended.15
The parties and media must observe the aforestated confidentiality.
Without an actionable entitlement in the first place to the right to informational privacy, a
habeas datapetition will not prosper. Viewed from the perspective of the case at bar,this
xxxx
requisite begs this question: given the nature of an online social network (OSN)––(1) that it
facilitates and promotes real-time interaction among millions, if not billions, of users, sans
SO ORDERED.9 the spatial barriers,16 bridging the gap created by physical space; and (2) that any
information uploaded in OSNs leavesan indelible trace in the provider’s databases, which
To the trial court, petitioners failed to prove the existence of an actual or threatened are outside the control of the end-users––is there a right to informational privacy in OSN
violation of the minors’ right to privacy, one of the preconditions for the issuance of the writ activities of its users? Before addressing this point, We must first resolve the procedural
of habeas data. Moreover, the court a quoheld that the photos, having been uploaded on issues in this case.
Facebook without restrictions as to who may view them, lost their privacy in some way.
Besides, the RTC noted, STC gathered the photographs through legal means and for a legal a. The writ of habeas data is not only confined to cases of extralegal killings and enforced
purpose, that is, the implementation of the school’s policies and rules on discipline. disappearances
Contrary to respondents’ submission, the Writ of Habeas Datawas not enacted solely for the The provision, when taken in its proper context, as a whole, irresistibly conveys the idea
purpose of complementing the Writ of Amparoin cases of extralegal killings and enforced that habeas data is a protection against unlawful acts or omissions of public officials and of
disappearances. private individuals or entities engaged in gathering, collecting, or storing data about the
aggrieved party and his or her correspondences, or about his or her family. Such individual
or entity need not be in the business of collecting or storing data.
Section 2 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data provides:

To "engage" in something is different from undertaking a business endeavour. To "engage"


Sec. 2. Who May File. – Any aggrieved party may file a petition for the writ of habeas data.
means "to do or take part in something."19 It does not necessarily mean that the activity
However, in cases of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, the petition may be
must be done in pursuit of a business. What matters is that the person or entity must be
filed by:
gathering, collecting or storing said data or information about the aggrieved party or his or
her family. Whether such undertaking carries the element of regularity, as when one
(a) Any member of the immediate family of the aggrieved party, namely: the pursues a business, and is in the nature of a personal endeavour, for any other reason or
spouse, children and parents; or even for no reason at all, is immaterial and such will not prevent the writ from getting to
said person or entity.
(b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the aggrieved party within
the fourth civil degreeof consanguinity or affinity, in default of those mentioned in To agree with respondents’ above argument, would mean unduly limiting the reach of the
the preceding paragraph. (emphasis supplied) writ to a very small group, i.e., private persons and entities whose business is data
gathering and storage, and in the process decreasing the effectiveness of the writ asan
Had the framers of the Rule intended to narrow the operation of the writ only to cases of instrument designed to protect a right which is easily violated in view of rapid
extralegal killings or enforced disappearances, the above underscored portion of Section 2, advancements in the information and communications technology––a right which a great
reflecting a variance of habeas data situations, would not have been made. majority of the users of technology themselves are not capable of protecting.

Habeas data, to stress, was designed "to safeguard individual freedom from abuse in the Having resolved the procedural aspect of the case, We now proceed to the core of the
information age."17 As such, it is erroneous to limit its applicability to extralegal killings and controversy.
enforced disappearances only. In fact, the annotations to the Rule preparedby the
Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, after explaining that the Writ of Habeas The right to informational privacy on Facebook
Data complements the Writ of Amparo, pointed out that:
a. The Right to Informational Privacy
The writ of habeas data, however, can be availed of as an independent remedy to enforce
one’s right to privacy, more specifically the right to informational privacy. The remedies
The concept of privacyhas, through time, greatly evolved, with technological advancements
against the violation of such right can include the updating, rectification, suppression or
having an influential part therein. This evolution was briefly recounted in former Chief
destruction of the database or information or files in possession or in control of
Justice Reynato S. Puno’s speech, The Common Right to Privacy, 20 where he explained the
respondents.18 (emphasis Ours) Clearly then, the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Datamay
three strands of the right to privacy, viz: (1) locational or situational privacy; 21(2)
also be availed of in cases outside of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.
informational privacy; and (3) decisional privacy.22 Of the three, what is relevant to the case
at bar is the right to informational privacy––usually defined as the right of individuals to
b. Meaning of "engaged" in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information control information about themselves.23

Respondents’ contention that the habeas data writ may not issue against STC, it not being With the availability of numerous avenues for information gathering and data sharing
an entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the nowadays, not to mention each system’s inherent vulnerability to attacks and intrusions,
person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party, while valid to a point, is, there is more reason that every individual’s right to control said flow of information should
nonetheless, erroneous. be protected and that each individual should have at least a reasonable expectation of
privacy in cyberspace. Several commentators regarding privacy and social networking sites,
To be sure, nothing in the Rule would suggest that the habeas data protection shall be however, all agree that given the millions of OSN users, "[i]n this [Social Networking]
available only against abuses of a person or entity engaged in the businessof gathering, environment, privacy is no longer grounded in reasonable expectations, but rather in some
storing, and collecting of data. As provided under Section 1 of the Rule: theoretical protocol better known as wishful thinking."24

Section 1. Habeas Data. – The writ of habeas datais a remedy available to any person whose It is due to this notion that the Court saw the pressing need to provide for judicial remedies
right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or that would allow a summary hearing of the unlawful use of data or information and to
omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the remedy possible violations of the right to privacy.25 In the same vein, the South African
gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home High Court, in its Decision in the landmark case, H v. W,26promulgated on January30, 2013,
and correspondence of the aggrieved party. (emphasis Ours) recognized that "[t]he law has to take into account the changing realities not only
technologically but also socially or else it will lose credibility in the eyes of the people. x x x
It is imperative that the courts respond appropriately to changing times, acting cautiously (c) Custom - the photo is made visible only to particular friends and/or networks of
and with wisdom." Consistent with this, the Court, by developing what may be viewed as the Facebook user; and
the Philippine model of the writ of habeas data, in effect, recognized that, generally
speaking, having an expectation of informational privacy is not necessarily incompatible
(d) Only Me - the digital image can be viewed only by the user.
with engaging in cyberspace activities, including those that occur in OSNs.

The foregoing are privacy tools, available to Facebook users, designed to set up barriers to
The question now though is up to whatextent is the right to privacy protected in OSNs?
broaden or limit the visibility of his or her specific profile content, statuses, and photos,
Bear in mind that informational privacy involves personal information. At the same time,
among others, from another user’s point of view. In other words, Facebook extends its users
the very purpose of OSNs is socializing––sharing a myriad of information,27 some of which
an avenue to make the availability of their Facebook activities reflect their choice as to
would have otherwise remained personal.
"when and to what extent to disclose facts about [themselves] – and to put others in the
position of receiving such confidences."34 Ideally, the selected setting will be based on one’s
b. Facebook’s Privacy Tools: a response to the clamor for privacy in OSN activities desire to interact with others, coupled with the opposing need to withhold certain
information as well as to regulate the spreading of his or her personal information. Needless
to say, as the privacy setting becomes more limiting, fewer Facebook users can view that
Briefly, the purpose of an OSN is precisely to give users the ability to interact and to stay
user’s particular post.
connected to other members of the same or different social media platform through the
sharing of statuses, photos, videos, among others, depending on the services provided by the
site. It is akin to having a room filled with millions of personal bulletin boards or "walls," STC did not violate petitioners’ daughters’ right to privacy
the contents of which are under the control of each and every user. In his or her bulletin
board, a user/owner can post anything––from text, to pictures, to music and videos––access
Without these privacy settings, respondents’ contention that there is no reasonable
to which would depend on whether he or she allows one, some or all of the other users to see
expectation of privacy in Facebook would, in context, be correct. However, such is not the
his or her posts. Since gaining popularity, the OSN phenomenon has paved the way to the
case. It is through the availability of said privacy tools that many OSN users are said to
creation of various social networking sites, includingthe one involved in the case at bar,
have a subjective expectation that only those to whomthey grant access to their profile will
www.facebook.com (Facebook), which, according to its developers, people use "to stay
view the information they post or upload thereto.35
connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share
and express what matters to them."28
This, however, does not mean thatany Facebook user automatically has a protected
expectation of privacy inall of his or her Facebook activities.
Facebook connections are established through the process of "friending" another user. By
sending a "friend request," the user invites another to connect their accounts so that they
can view any and all "Public" and "Friends Only" posts of the other.Once the request is Before one can have an expectation of privacy in his or her OSN activity, it is first necessary
accepted, the link is established and both users are permitted to view the other user’s that said user, in this case the children of petitioners,manifest the intention to keepcertain
"Public" or "Friends Only" posts, among others. "Friending," therefore, allows the user to posts private, through the employment of measures to prevent access thereto or to limit its
form or maintain one-to-one relationships with other users, whereby the user gives his or visibility.36 And this intention can materialize in cyberspace through the utilization of the
her "Facebook friend" access to his or her profile and shares certain information to the OSN’s privacy tools. In other words, utilization of these privacy tools is the manifestation,in
latter.29 cyber world, of the user’s invocation of his or her right to informational privacy. 37

To address concerns about privacy,30 but without defeating its purpose, Facebook was armed Therefore, a Facebook user who opts to make use of a privacy tool to grant or deny access to
with different privacy tools designed to regulate the accessibility of a user’s profile 31 as well his or her post orprofile detail should not be denied the informational privacy right which
as information uploaded by the user. In H v. W,32 the South Gauteng High Court recognized necessarily accompanies said choice.38Otherwise, using these privacy tools would be a
this ability of the users to "customize their privacy settings," but did so with this caveat: feckless exercise, such that if, for instance, a user uploads a photo or any personal
"Facebook states in its policies that, although it makes every effort to protect a user’s information to his or her Facebook page and sets its privacy level at "Only Me" or a custom
information, these privacy settings are not foolproof."33 list so that only the user or a chosen few can view it, said photo would still be deemed public
by the courts as if the user never chose to limit the photo’s visibility and accessibility. Such
position, if adopted, will not only strip these privacy tools of their function but it would also
For instance, a Facebook user canregulate the visibility and accessibility of digital
disregard the very intention of the user to keep said photo or information within the
images(photos), posted on his or her personal bulletin or "wall," except for the user’sprofile
confines of his or her private space.
picture and ID, by selecting his or her desired privacy setting:

We must now determine the extent that the images in question were visible to other
(a) Public - the default setting; every Facebook user can view the photo;
Facebook users and whether the disclosure was confidential in nature. In other words, did
the minors limit the disclosure of the photos such that the images were kept within their
(b) Friends of Friends - only the user’s Facebook friends and their friends can view zones of privacy? This determination is necessary in resolving the issue of whether the
the photo; minors carved out a zone of privacy when the photos were uploaded to Facebook so that the
images will be protected against unauthorized access and disclosure.
(b) Friends - only the user’s Facebook friends can view the photo;
Petitioners, in support of their thesis about their children’s privacy right being violated, (1) Facebook "allows the world to be more open and connected by giving its users
insist that Escudero intruded upon their children’s Facebook accounts, downloaded copies the tools to interact and share in any conceivable way;"47
ofthe pictures and showed said photos to Tigol. To them, this was a breach of the minors’
privacy since their Facebook accounts, allegedly, were under "very private" or "Only
(2) A good number of Facebook users "befriend" other users who are total
Friends" setting safeguarded with a password.39 Ultimately, they posit that their children’s
strangers;48
disclosure was only limited since their profiles were not open to public viewing. Therefore,
according to them, people who are not their Facebook friends, including respondents, are
barred from accessing said post without their knowledge and consent. Aspetitioner’s (3) The sheer number of "Friends" one user has, usually by the hundreds; and
children testified, it was Angelawho uploaded the subjectphotos which were only viewable
by the five of them,40 although who these five are do not appear on the records. (4) A user’s Facebook friend can "share"49 the former’s post, or "tag"50 others who
are not Facebook friends with the former, despite its being visible only tohis or her
Escudero, on the other hand, stated in her affidavit41 that "my students showed me some own Facebook friends.
pictures of girls cladin brassieres. This student [sic] of mine informed me that these are
senior high school [students] of STC, who are their friends in [F]acebook. x x x They then It is well to emphasize at this point that setting a post’s or profile detail’s privacy to
said [that] there are still many other photos posted on the Facebook accounts of these girls. "Friends" is no assurance that it can no longer be viewed by another user who is not
At the computer lab, these students then logged into their Facebook account [sic], and Facebook friends with the source of the content. The user’s own Facebook friend can share
accessed from there the various photographs x x x. They even told me that there had been said content or tag his or her own Facebook friend thereto, regardless of whether the user
times when these photos were ‘public’ i.e., not confined to their friends in Facebook." tagged by the latter is Facebook friends or not with the former. Also, when the post is
shared or when a person is tagged, the respective Facebook friends of the person who shared
In this regard, We cannot give muchweight to the minors’ testimonies for one key reason: the post or who was tagged can view the post, the privacy setting of which was set at
failure to question the students’ act of showing the photos to Tigol disproves their allegation "Friends."
that the photos were viewable only by the five of them. Without any evidence to corroborate
their statement that the images were visible only to the five of them, and without their To illustrate, suppose A has 100 Facebook friends and B has 200. A and B are not Facebook
challenging Escudero’s claim that the other students were able to view the photos, their friends. If C, A’s Facebook friend, tags B in A’s post, which is set at "Friends," the initial
statements are, at best, self-serving, thus deserving scant consideration.42 audience of 100 (A’s own Facebook friends) is dramatically increased to 300 (A’s 100 friends
plus B’s 200 friends or the public, depending upon B’s privacy setting). As a result, the
It is well to note that not one of petitioners disputed Escudero’s sworn account that her audience who can view the post is effectively expanded––and to a very large extent.
students, who are the minors’ Facebook "friends," showed her the photos using their own
Facebook accounts. This only goes to show that no special means to be able to viewthe This, along with its other features and uses, is confirmation of Facebook’s proclivity towards
allegedly private posts were ever resorted to by Escudero’s students, 43 and that it is user interaction and socialization rather than seclusion or privacy, as it encourages
reasonable to assume, therefore, that the photos were, in reality, viewable either by (1) their broadcasting of individual user posts. In fact, it has been said that OSNs have facilitated
Facebook friends, or (2) by the public at large. their users’ self-tribute, thereby resulting into the "democratization of fame."51Thus, it is
suggested, that a profile, or even a post, with visibility set at "Friends Only" cannot easily,
Considering that the default setting for Facebook posts is"Public," it can be surmised that more so automatically, be said to be "very private," contrary to petitioners’ argument.
the photographs in question were viewable to everyone on Facebook, absent any proof that
petitioners’ children positively limited the disclosure of the photograph. If suchwere the As applied, even assuming that the photos in issue are visible only to the sanctioned
case, they cannot invoke the protection attached to the right to informational privacy. The students’ Facebook friends, respondent STC can hardly be taken to task for the perceived
ensuing pronouncement in US v. Gines-Perez44 is most instructive: privacy invasion since it was the minors’ Facebook friends who showed the pictures to Tigol.
Respondents were mere recipients of what were posted. They did not resort to any unlawful
[A] person who places a photograph on the Internet precisely intends to forsake and means of gathering the information as it was voluntarily given to them by persons who had
renounce all privacy rights to such imagery, particularly under circumstances suchas here, legitimate access to the said posts. Clearly, the fault, if any, lies with the friends of the
where the Defendant did not employ protective measures or devices that would have minors. Curiously enough, however, neither the minors nor their parents imputed any
controlled access to the Web page or the photograph itself.45 violation of privacy against the students who showed the images to Escudero.

Also, United States v. Maxwell46 held that "[t]he more open the method of transmission is, Furthermore, petitioners failed to prove their contention that respondents reproduced and
the less privacy one can reasonably expect. Messages sent to the public at large inthe chat broadcasted the photographs. In fact, what petitioners attributed to respondents as an act of
room or e-mail that is forwarded from correspondent to correspondent loses any semblance offensive disclosure was no more than the actuality that respondents appended said
of privacy." photographs in their memorandum submitted to the trial court in connection with Civil
Case No. CEB-38594.52 These are not tantamount to a violation of the minor’s informational
privacy rights, contrary to petitioners’ assertion.
That the photos are viewable by "friends only" does not necessarily bolster the petitioners’
contention. In this regard, the cyber community is agreed that the digital images under this
setting still remain to be outside the confines of the zones of privacy in view of the following: In sum, there can be no quibbling that the images in question, or to be more precise, the
photos of minor students scantily clad, are personal in nature, likely to affect, if
indiscriminately circulated, the reputation of the minors enrolled in a conservative It is, thus, incumbent upon internet users to exercise due diligence in their online dealings
institution. However, the records are bereft of any evidence, other than bare assertions that and activities and must not be negligent in protecting their rights. Equity serves the
they utilized Facebook’s privacy settings to make the photos visible only to them or to a vigilant. Demanding relief from the courts, as here, requires that claimants themselves take
select few. Without proof that they placed the photographs subject of this case within the utmost care in safeguarding a right which they allege to have been violated. These are
ambit of their protected zone of privacy, they cannot now insist that they have an indispensable. We cannot afford protection to persons if they themselves did nothing to
expectation of privacy with respect to the photographs in question. place the matter within the confines of their private zone. OSN users must be mindful
enough to learn the use of privacy tools, to use them if they desire to keep the information
private, and to keep track of changes in the available privacy settings, such as those of
Had it been proved that the access tothe pictures posted were limited to the original
Facebook, especially because Facebook is notorious for changing these settings and the site's
uploader, through the "Me Only" privacy setting, or that the user’s contact list has been
layout often.
screened to limit access to a select few, through the "Custom" setting, the result may have
been different, for in such instances, the intention to limit access to the particular post,
instead of being broadcasted to the public at large or all the user’s friends en masse, In finding that respondent STC and its officials did not violate the minors' privacy rights,
becomes more manifest and palpable. We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and case disposition of the court a quo.

On Cyber Responsibility In light of the foregoing, the Court need not belabor the other assigned errors.

It has been said that "the best filter is the one between your children’s ears." 53 This means WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated
that self-regulation on the part of OSN users and internet consumers ingeneral is the best July 27, 2012 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14 in Cebu City in SP. Proc. No. 19251-
means of avoiding privacy rights violations.54 As a cyberspace communitymember, one has CEB is hereby AFFIRMED.
to be proactive in protecting his or her own privacy. 55 It is in this regard that many OSN
users, especially minors, fail.Responsible social networking or observance of the
No pronouncement as to costs.
"netiquettes"56 on the part of teenagers has been the concern of many due to the
widespreadnotion that teenagers can sometimes go too far since they generally lack the
people skills or general wisdom to conduct themselves sensibly in a public forum. 57 SO ORDERED.

Respondent STC is clearly aware of this and incorporating lessons on good cyber citizenship
in its curriculum to educate its students on proper online conduct may be mosttimely. Too, it
is not only STC but a number of schools and organizations have already deemed it
important to include digital literacy and good cyber citizenshipin their respective programs
and curricula in view of the risks that the children are exposed to every time they
participate in online activities.58 Furthermore, considering the complexity of the cyber world
and its pervasiveness,as well as the dangers that these children are wittingly or unwittingly
exposed to in view of their unsupervised activities in cyberspace, the participation of the
parents in disciplining and educating their children about being a good digital citizen is
encouraged by these institutions and organizations. In fact, it is believed that "to limit such
risks, there’s no substitute for parental involvement and supervision."59

As such, STC cannot be faulted for being steadfast in its duty of teaching its students to
beresponsible in their dealings and activities in cyberspace, particularly in OSNs, whenit
enforced the disciplinary actions specified in the Student Handbook, absenta showing that,
in the process, it violated the students’ rights.

OSN users should be aware of the risks that they expose themselves to whenever they
engage incyberspace activities.1âwphi1 Accordingly, they should be cautious enough to
control their privacy and to exercise sound discretion regarding how much information
about themselves they are willing to give up. Internet consumers ought to be aware that, by
entering or uploading any kind of data or information online, they are automatically and
inevitably making it permanently available online, the perpetuation of which is outside the
ambit of their control. Furthermore, and more importantly, information, otherwise private,
voluntarily surrendered by them can be opened, read, or copied by third parties who may or
may not be allowed access to such.
G.R. No. 184769. October 5, 2010.* petitioners’ refusal to disclose the contents of reports allegedly received on the threats to
respondent’s safety amounts to a violation of her right to privacy is at best speculative.
MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, ALEXANDER S. DEYTO and RUBEN A. SAPITULA, Respondent in fact trivializes these threats and accusations from unknown individuals in
petitioners, vs.ROSARIO GOPEZ LIM, respondent. her earlier-quoted portion of her July 10, 2008 letter as “highly suspicious, doubtful or are
just mere jokes if they existed at all.” And she even suspects that her transfer to another
Writ of Habeas Data; Right to Privacy; Labor Law; Transfers; An employee’s plea that place of work “betray[s] the real intent of management]” and could be a “punitive move.”
she be spared from complying with her employer’s Memorandum directing her reassignment Her posture unwittingly concedes that the issue is labor-related.
under the guise of a quest for information or data allegedly in possession of petitioners, does PETITION for the Issuance of a Writ of Habeas Data.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

not fall within the province of a writ of habeas data; The habeas data rule, in general, is Horacio Enrico M. Bona, Teresita M. Magpayo, Elias M. Santos, Lynnette Deloria-Manarang for petitioners.
Romerico S. Espera for respondent.

designed to protect by means of judicial complaint the image, privacy, honor, information, CARPIO-MORALES, J.:

and freedom of information of an individual—it is meant to provide a forum to enforce one’s


right to the truth and to informational privacy, thus safeguarding the constitutional
guarantees of a person’s right to life, liberty and security against abuse in this age of The Court is once again confronted with an opportunity to define the evolving metes and
information technology.—Respondent’s plea that she be spared from complying with bounds of the writ of habeas data. May an employee invoke the remedies available under
MERALCO’s Memorandum directing her reassignment to the Alabang Sector, under the such writ where an employer decides to transfer her workplace on the basis of copies of an
guise of a quest for information or data allegedly in possession of petitioners, does not fall anonymous letter posted therein ─ imputing to her disloyalty to the company and calling for
within the province of a writ of habeas data. Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ her to leave, which imputation it investigated but fails to inform her of the details thereof?
of HabeasData provides: Section 1. Habeas Data.—The writ of habeas datais a remedy
available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or
Rosario G. Lim (respondent), also known as Cherry Lim, is an administrative clerk at the
threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee or of a
Manila Electric Company (MERALCO).
private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or
information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved
party. (emphasis and underscoring supplied) The habeas data rule, in general, is designed On June 4, 2008, an anonymous letter was posted at the door of the Metering Office of the
to protect by means of judicial complaint the image, privacy, honor, information, and Administration building of MERALCO Plaridel, Bulacan Sector, at which respondent is
freedom of information of an individual. It is meant to provide a forum to enforce one’s right assigned, denouncing respondent. The letter reads:
to the truth and to informational privacy, thus safeguarding the constitutional guarantees
of a person’s right to life, liberty and security against abuse in this age of information Cherry Lim:
technology.

Same; Same; Same; Like the writ of amparo, habeas data was conceived as a response, MATAPOS MONG LAMUNIN LAHAT NG BIYAYA NG MERALCO, NGAYON NAMAN
given the lack of effective and available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the AY GUSTO MONG PALAMON ANG BUONG KUMPANYA SA MGA BUWAYA NG
number of killings and enforced disappearances—its intent is to address violations of or GOBYERNO. KAPAL NG MUKHA MO, LUMAYAS KA RITO, WALANG UTANG NA
threats to the rights to life, liberty or security as a remedy independently from those provided LOOB….1
under prevailing Rules; The writs of amparo and habeas data will NOT issue to protect
purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds invoked in support of the Copies of the letter were also inserted in the lockers of MERALCO linesmen. Informed
petitions therefor are vague or doubtful—employment constitutes a property right under the about it, respondent reported the matter on June 5, 2008 to the Plaridel Station of the
context of the due process clause of the Constitution.—It bears reiteration that like the writ Philippine National Police.2
of amparo, habeas data was conceived as a response, given the lack of effective and
available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced
disappearances. Its intent is to address violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or By Memorandum3 dated July 4, 2008, petitioner Alexander Deyto, Head of MERALCO’s
security as a remedy independently from those provided under prevailing Rules. Castillo v. Human Resource Staffing, directed the transfer of respondent to MERALCO’s Alabang
Cruz, 605 SCRA 628 (2009), underscores the emphasis laid down in Tapuz v. del Rosario, Sector in Muntinlupa as "A/F OTMS Clerk," effective July 18, 2008 in light of the receipt of
554 SCRA 768 (2008), that the writs of amparo and habeas data will NOT issue to protect "… reports that there were accusations and threats directed against [her] from unknown
purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds invoked in support of the individuals and which could possibly compromise [her] safety and security."
petitions therefor are vague or doubtful. Employment constitutes a property right under the
context of the due process clause of the Constitution. It is evident that respondent’s Respondent, by letter of July 10, 2008 addressed to petitioner Ruben A. Sapitula, Vice-
reservations on the real reasons for her transfer—a legitimate concern respecting the terms President and Head of MERALCO’s Human Resource Administration, appealed her transfer
and conditions of one’s employment—are what prompted her to adopt the extraordinary and requested for a dialogue so she could voice her concerns and misgivings on the matter,
remedy of habeas data. Jurisdiction over such concerns is inarguably lodged by law with the claiming that the "punitive" nature of the transfer amounted to a denial of due process.
NLRC and the Labor Arbiters. Citing the grueling travel from her residence in Pampanga to Alabang and back entails, and
violation of the provisions on job security of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA),
Same; Same; Same; To argue that the employer’s refusal to disclose the contents of respondent expressed her thoughts on the alleged threats to her security in this wise:
reports allegedly received on the threats to the employee’s safety amounts to a violation of her
right to privacy is at best speculative.—In another vein, there is no showing from the facts
presented that petitioners committed any unjustifiable or unlawful violation of xxxx
respondent’s right to privacy vis-à-vis the right to life, liberty or security. To argue that
I feel that it would have been better . . . if you could have intimated to me the nature of the implementing respondent’s transfer until such time that petitioners comply with the
alleged accusations and threats so that at least I could have found out if these are credible disclosures required.
or even serious. But as you stated, these came from unknown individuals and the way they
were handled, it appears that the veracity of these accusations and threats to be [sic] highly
The trial court justified its ruling by declaring that, inter alia, recourse to a writ of habeas
suspicious, doubtful or are just mere jokes if they existed at all.
data should extend not only to victims of extra-legal killings and political activists but also
to ordinary citizens, like respondent whose rights to life and security are jeopardized by
Assuming for the sake of argument only, that the alleged threats exist as the management petitioners’ refusal to provide her with information or data on the reported threats to her
apparently believe, then my transfer to an unfamiliar place and environment which will person.
make me a "sitting duck" so to speak, seems to betray the real intent of management which
is contrary to its expressed concern on my security and safety . . . Thus, it made me think
Hence, the present petition for review under Rule 45 of 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and
twice on the rationale for management’s initiated transfer. Reflecting further, it appears to
the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data9 contending that 1) the RTC lacked jurisdiction over
me that instead of the management supposedly extending favor to me, the net result and
the case and cannot restrain MERALCO’s prerogative as employer to transfer the place of
effect of management action would be a punitive one.4 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
work of its employees, and 2) the issuance of the writ is outside the parameters expressly
set forth in the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data.101avvphi1
Respondent thus requested for the deferment of the implementation of her transfer pending
resolution of the issues she raised.
Maintaining that the RTC has no jurisdiction over what they contend is clearly a labor
dispute, petitioners argue that "although ingeniously crafted as a petition for habeas data,
No response to her request having been received, respondent filed a petition 5 for the respondent is essentially questioning the transfer of her place of work by her
issuance of a writ of habeas data against petitioners before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) employer"11 and the terms and conditions of her employment which arise from an employer-
of Bulacan, docketed as SP. Proc. No. 213-M-2008. employee relationship over which the NLRC and the Labor Arbiters under Article 217 of the
Labor Code have jurisdiction.
By respondent’s allegation, petitioners’ unlawful act and omission consisting of their
continued failure and refusal to provide her with details or information about the alleged Petitioners thus maintain that the RTC had no authority to restrain the implementation of
report which MERALCO purportedly received concerning threats to her safety and the Memorandum transferring respondent’s place of work which is purely a management
security amount to a violation of her right to privacy in life, liberty and security, correctible prerogative, and that OCA-Circular No. 79-200312 expressly prohibits the issuance of TROs
by habeas data. Respondent thus prayed for the issuance of a writ commanding petitioners or injunctive writs in labor-related cases.
to file a written return containing the following:
Petitioners go on to point out that the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data directs the issuance
a) a full disclosure of the data or information about respondent in relation to the of the writ only against public officials or employees, or private individuals or
report purportedly received by petitioners on the alleged threat to her safety and entities engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding an
security; the nature of such data and the purpose for its collection; aggrieved party’s person, family or home; and that MERALCO (or its officers) is clearly not
engaged in such activities.
b) the measures taken by petitioners to ensure the confidentiality of such data or
information; and The petition is impressed with merit.

c) the currency and accuracy of such data or information obtained. Respondent’s plea that she be spared from complying with MERALCO’s Memorandum
directing her reassignment to the Alabang Sector, under the guise of a quest for information
or data allegedly in possession of petitioners, does not fall within the province of a writ of
Additionally, respondent prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
habeas data.
enjoining petitioners from effecting her transfer to the MERALCO Alabang Sector.

Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data provides:


By Order6 of August 29, 2008, Branch 7 of the Bulacan RTC directed petitioners to file their
verified written return. And by Order of September 5, 2008, the trial court granted
respondent’s application for a TRO. Section 1. Habeas Data. – The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person
whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an
unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee or of a private individual or
Petitioners moved for the dismissal of the petition and recall of the TRO on the grounds
entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or
that, inter alia, resort to a petition for writ of habeas data was not in order; and the RTC
informationregarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.
lacked jurisdiction over the case which properly belongs to the National Labor Relations
(emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Commission (NLRC).7

The habeas data rule, in general, is designed to protect by means of judicial complaint the
By Decision8 of September 22, 2008, the trial court granted the prayers of respondent
image, privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an individual. It is meant
including the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction directing petitioners to desist from
to provide a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy, thus
safeguarding the constitutional guarantees of a person’s right to life, liberty and security
against abuse in this age of information technology.

It bears reiteration that like the writ of amparo, habeas data was conceived as a response,
given the lack of effective and available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the
number of killings and enforced disappearances. Its intent is to address violations of or
threats to the rights to life, liberty or security as a remedy independently from those
provided under prevailing Rules.13

Castillo v. Cruz14 underscores the emphasis laid down in Tapuz v. del Rosario15 that the
writs of amparo and habeas data will NOT issue to protect purely property or commercial
concerns nor when the grounds invoked in support of the petitions therefor are vague or
doubtful.16 Employment constitutes a property right under the context of the due process
clause of the Constitution.17 It is evident that respondent’s reservations on the real reasons
for her transfer - a legitimate concern respecting the terms and conditions of one’s
employment - are what prompted her to adopt the extraordinary remedy of habeas data.
Jurisdiction over such concerns is inarguably lodged by law with the NLRC and the Labor
Arbiters.

In another vein, there is no showing from the facts presented that petitioners committed
any unjustifiable or unlawful violation of respondent’s right to privacy vis-a-vis the right to
life, liberty or security. To argue that petitioners’ refusal to disclose the contents of reports
allegedly received on the threats to respondent’s safety amounts to a violation of her right to
privacy is at best speculative. Respondent in fact trivializes these threats and accusations
from unknown individuals in her earlier-quoted portion of her July 10, 2008 letter as
"highly suspicious, doubtful or are just mere jokes if they existed at all."18 And she even
suspects that her transfer to another place of work "betray[s] the real intent of
management]" and could be a "punitive move." Her posture unwittingly concedes that the
issue is labor-related.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed September 22, 2008 Decision of the
Bulacan RTC, Branch 7 in SP. Proc. No. 213-M-2008 is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. SP. Proc. No. 213-M-2008 is, accordingly, DISMISSED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 203254. October 8, 2014.* Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated August 30, 2012 of
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 224 (RTC) in SP No. 12-71527, which extended the
privilege of the writ of habeas data in favor of respondent Police Superintendent Neri A. Ilagan (Ilagan).
DR. JOY MARGATE LEE, petitioner, vs. P/SUPT. NERI A. ILAGAN, respondent.

Constitutional Law; Habeas Data Rule (A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC); A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC, The Facts
or the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data (Habeas Data Rule), was conceived as a response,
given the lack of effective and available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the
In his Petition for Issuance of the Writ of Habeas Data3 dated June 22, 2012, Ilagan alleged
number of killings and enforced disappearances.—A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC, or the Rule on the
that he and petitioner Dr. Joy Margate Lee (Lee) were former common law partners.
Writ of Habeas Data (Habeas DataRule), was conceived as a response, given the lack of
Sometime in July 2011, he visited Lee at the latter's condominium, rested for a while and
effective and available remedies, to address the extraordinary rise in the number of killings
thereafter, proceeded to his office. Upon arrival, Ilagan noticed that his digital camera was
and enforced disappearances. It was conceptualized as a judicial remedy enforcing the right
missing.4 On August 23, 2011, Lee confronted Ilagan at the latter's office regarding a
to privacy, most especially the right to informational privacy of individuals, which is
purported sex video (subject video) she discovered from the aforesaid camera involving
defined as “the right to control the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of data
Ilagan and another woman. Ilagan denied the video and demanded Lee to return the
about oneself.”
camera, but to no avail.5 During the confrontation, Ilagan allegedly slammed Lee’s head
against a wall inside his office and walked away.6 Subsequently, Lee utilized the said video
Same; Same; As defined in Section 1 of the Habeas Data Rule, the writ of habeas data
as evidence in filing various complaints against Ilagan, namely: (a) a criminal complaint for
now stands as “a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or
violation of Republic Act No. 9262,7 otherwise known as the "Anti-Violence Against Women
security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or
and Their Children Act of 2004," before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati; and (b)
employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of
an administrative complaint for grave misconduct before the National Police Commission
data or information regarding the person, family, home, and correspondence of the aggrieved
(NAPOLCOM).8 Ilagan claimed that Lee’s acts of reproducing the subject video and
party.”—As defined in Section 1 of the Habeas Data Rule, the writ of habeas data now
threatening to distribute the same to the upper echelons of the NAPOLCOM and uploading
stands as “a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or
it to the internet violated not only his right to life, liberty, security, and privacy but also
security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or
that of the other woman, and thus, the issuance of a writ of habeas data in his favor is
employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing
warranted.9
of data or information regarding the person, family, home, and correspondence of
the aggrieved party.” Thus, in order to support a petition for the issuance of such writ,
Section 6 of the Habeas Data Rule essentially requires that the petition sufficiently alleges, Finding the petition prima facie meritorious, the RTC issued a Writ of Habeas Data10 dated
among others, “[t]he manner the right to privacy is violated or threatened and how June 25, 2012, directing Lee to appear before the court a quo, and to produce Ilagan’s digital
it affects the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party.” In other words, camera, as well as the negative and/or original of the subject video and copies thereof, and
the petition must adequately show that there exists a nexus between the right to to file a verified written return within five (5) working days from date of receipt thereof.
privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on the other.
Corollarily, the allegations in the petition must be supported by substantial
In her Verified Return11 dated July 2, 2012, Lee admitted that she indeed kept the memory
evidenceshowing an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or
card of the digital camera and reproduced the aforesaid video but averred that she only did
security of the victim. In this relation, it bears pointing out that the writ of habeas data will
so to utilize the same as evidence in the cases she filed against Ilagan. She also admitted
not issue to protect purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds invoked
that her relationship with Ilagan started sometime in 2003 and ended under disturbing
in support of the petitions therefor are vague and doubtful.
circumstances in August 2011, and that she only happened to discover the subject video
when Ilagan left his camera in her condominium. Accordingly, Lee contended that Ilagan’s
Same; Same; Right to Privacy; Sex Videos; As the rules and existing jurisprudence on
petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas data should be dismissed because: (a) its filing
the matter evoke, alleging and eventually proving the nexus between one’s privacy right to the
was only aimed at suppressing the evidence against Ilagan in the cases she filed; and (b) she
cogent rights to life, liberty or security are crucial in habeas data cases, so much so that a
is not engaged in the gathering, collecting, or storing of data regarding the person of
failure on either account certainly renders a habeas data petition dismissible.—In this case,
Ilagan.12
the Court finds that Ilagan was not able to sufficiently allege that his right to privacy in life,
liberty or security was or would be violated through the supposed reproduction and
threatened dissemination of the subject sex video. While Ilagan purports a privacy interest The RTC Ruling
in the suppression of this video — which he fears would somehow find its way to Quiapo or
be uploaded in the internet for public consumption — he failed to explain the connection In a Decision13 dated August 30, 2012, the RTC granted the privilege of the writ of habeas
between such interest and any violation of his right to life, liberty or security. Indeed, courts data in Ilagan’s favor, and accordingly, ordered the implementing officer to turn-over copies
cannot speculate or contrive versions of possible transgressions. As the rules and existing of the subject video to him, and enjoined Lee from further reproducing the same.14
jurisprudence on the matter evoke, alleging and eventually proving the nexus between one’s
privacy right to the cogent rights to life, liberty or security are crucial in habeas data cases,
so much so that a failure on either account certainly renders a habeas data petition The RTC did not give credence to Lee’s defense that she is not engaged in the gathering,
dismissible, as in this case. collecting or storing of data regarding the person of Ilagan, finding that her acts of
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Br. 224.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
reproducing the subject video and showing it to other people, i.e., the NAPOLCOM officers,
Donn Rico G. Kapunan for petitioner.
Nicasio M. Salamera for respondent.
violated the latter’s right to privacy in life and caused him to suffer humiliation and mental
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
anguish. In this relation, the RTC opined that Lee’s use of the subject video as evidence in
the various cases she filed against Ilagan is not enough justification for its reproduction.
Nevertheless, the RTC clarified that it is only ruling on the return of the aforesaid video and Ilagan submitted in support of his petition was his self-serving testimony which hardly
not on its admissibility before other tribunals.15 meets the substantial evidence requirement as prescribed by the Habeas Data Rule. This is
because nothing therein would indicate that Lee actually proceeded to commit any overt act
towards the end of violating Ilagan’s right to privacy in life, liberty or security. Nor would
Dissatisfied, Lee filed this petition.
anything on record even lead a reasonable mind to conclude 22 that Lee was going to use the
subject video in order to achieve unlawful ends - say for instance, to spread it to the public
The Issue Before the Court so as to ruin Ilagan' s reputation. Contrastingly, Lee even made it clear in her testimony
that the only reason why she reproduced the subject video was to legitimately utilize the
The essential issue for the Court’s resolution is whether or not the RTC correctly extended same as evidence in the criminal and administrative cases that she filed against
the privilege of the writ of habeas data in favor of Ilagan. Ilagan.23 Hence, due to the insufficiency of the allegations as well as the glaring absence of
substantial evidence, the Court finds it proper to reverse the R TC Decision and dismiss
the habeas data petition.
The Court’s Ruling
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated August 30, 2012 of the
The petition is meritorious. Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 224 in SP No. 12-71527 is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the Petition for Issuance of the Writ
A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC, or the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data (Habeas Data Rule), was of Habeas Data filed by respondent P/Supt. Neri A. Ilagan is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
conceived as a response, given the lack of effective and available remedies, to address the
extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced disappearances. 16 It was SO ORDERED.
conceptualized as a judicial remedy enforcing the right to privacy, most especially the right
to informational privacy of individuals,17 which is defined as "the right to control the
collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of data about oneself."18

As defined in Section 1 of the Habeas Data Rule, the writ of habeas data now stands as "a
remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is
violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a
private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or
information regarding the person, family, home, and correspondence of the
aggrieved party." Thus, in order to support a petition for the issuance of such writ, Section
6 of the Habeas Data Rule essentially requires that the petition sufficiently alleges, among
others, "[t]he manner the right to privacy is violated or threatened and how it
affects the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party." In other words,
the petition must adequately show that there exists a nexus between the right to
privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on the other.[[19]]
Corollarily, the allegations in the petition must be supported by substantial
evidence showing an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or
security of the victim.20 In this relation, it bears pointing out that the writ of habeas
data will not issue to protect purely property or commercial concerns nor when the grounds
invoked in support of the petitions therefor are vague and doubtful. 21

In this case, the Court finds that Ilagan was not able to sufficiently allege that his right to
privacy in life, liberty or security was or would be violated through the supposed
reproduction and threatened dissemination of the subject sex video. While Ilagan purports a
privacy interest in the suppression of this video – which he fears would somehow find its
way to Quiapo or be uploaded in the internet for public consumption – he failed to explain
the connection between such interest and any violation of his right to life, liberty or
security.1âwphi1 Indeed, courts cannot speculate or contrive versions of possible
transgressions. As the rules and existing jurisprudence on the matter evoke, alleging and
eventually proving the nexus between one’s privacy right to the cogent rights to life, liberty
or security are crucial in habeas data cases, so much so that a failure on either account
certainly renders a habeas data petition dismissible, as in this case.

In fact, even discounting the insufficiency of the allegations, the petition would equally be
dismissible due to the inadequacy of the evidence presented. As the records show, all that
G.R. No. 199199. August 27, 2013.* act or omission of the government agency, instrumentality or its officer concerned. Sufficiency
MARICRIS D. DOLOT, Chairman of the BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN- of substance, on the other hand, necessitates that the petition must contain substantive
SORSOGON, petitioner, vs. HON. RAMON PAJE, in his capacity as the Secretary of the allegations specifically constituting an actionable neglect or omission and must establish, at
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, REYNULFO A. JUAN, Regional the very least, a prima facie basis for the issuance of the writ.―On matters of form, the
Director, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, DENR, HON. RAUL R. LEE, Governor, Province petition must be verified and must contain supporting evidence as well as a sworn
of Sorsogon, ANTONIO C. OCAMPO, JR., VICTORIA A. AJERO, ALFREDO M. AGUILAR, certification of non-forum shopping. It is also necessary that the petitioner must be one who
and JUAN M. AGUILAR, ANTONES ENTERPRISES, GLOBAL SUMMIT MINES DEV’T is aggrieved by an act or omission of the government agency, instrumentality or its officer
CORP., and TR ORE, respondents. concerned. Sufficiency of substance, on the other hand, necessitates that the petition must
contain substantive allegations specifically constituting an actionable neglect or omission
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Courts; Jurisdiction; None is more well-settled than and must establish, at the very least, a prima facie basis for the issuance of the writ, viz.: (1)
the rule that jurisdiction, which is the power and authority of the court to hear, try and an agency or instrumentality of government or its officer unlawfully neglects the
decide a case, is conferred by law.―None is more well-settled than the rule that jurisdiction, performance of an act or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of a right;
which is the power and authority of the court to hear, try and decide a case, is conferred by (2) the act to be performed by the government agency, instrumentality or its officer is
law. It may either be over the nature of the action, over the subject matter, over the person specifically enjoined by law as a duty; (3) such duty results from an office, trust or station in
of the defendants or over the issues framed in the pleadings. By virtue of Batas Pambansa connection with the enforcement or violation of an environmental law, rule or regulation or
(B.P.) Blg. 129 or the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, jurisdiction over special civil a right therein; and (4) there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of
actions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus is vested in the RTC. Particularly, Section law.
21(1) thereof provides that the RTCs shall exercise original jurisdiction — in the issuance of
writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and Same; Same; Same; The writ of continuing mandamus is a special civil action that
injunction which may be enforced in any part of their respective regions. may be availed of “to compel the performance of an act specifically enjoined by law.” The
petition should mainly involve an environmental and other related law, rule or regulation or
Same; Same; Same; Same; The Supreme Court does not have the power to confer a right therein.―The writ of continuing mandamus is a special civil action that may be
jurisdiction on any court or tribunal as the allocation of jurisdiction is lodged solely in availed of “to compel the performance of an act specifically enjoined by law.” The petition
Congress.―A.O. No. 7 and Admin. Circular No. 23-2008 was issued pursuant to Section 18 should mainly involve an environmental and other related law, rule or regulation
of B.P. Blg. 129, which gave the Court authority to define the territory over which a branch or a right therein. The RTC’s mistaken notion on the need for a final judgment, decree or
of the RTC shall exercise its authority. These administrative orders and circulars issued by order is apparently based on the definition of the writ of continuing mandamus under
the Court merely provide for the venue where an action may be filed. The Court does not Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules, to wit: (c) Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court in
have the power to confer jurisdiction on any court or tribunal as the allocation of jurisdiction an environmental case directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer
is lodged solely in Congress. It also cannot be delegated to another office or agency of the thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain
Government. Section 18 of B.P. Blg. 129, in fact, explicitly states that the territory thus effective until judgment is fully satisfied.
defined shall be deemed to be the territorial area of the branch concerned for purposes of
determining the venue of all suits, proceedings or actions. Same; Same; Same; A writ of continuing mandamus is, in essence, a command of
continuing compliance with a final judgment as it “permits the court to retain jurisdiction
Same; Special Civil Actions; Continuing Mandamus; The concept of continuing after judgment in order to ensure the successful implementation of the reliefs mandated
mandamus was first introduced in Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. under the court’s decision.”―Under the Rules, after the court has rendered a judgment in
Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, 574 SCRA 661 (2008); Similar to the procedure under conformity with Rule 8, Section 7 and such judgment has become final, the issuing court
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for special civil actions for certiorari, prohibition and still retains jurisdiction over the case to ensure that the government agency concerned is
mandamus, Section 4, Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (A.M. No. performing its tasks as mandated by law and to monitor the effective performance of said
09-6-8-SC) requires that the petition filed should be sufficient in form and substance before a tasks. It is only upon full satisfaction of the final judgment, order or decision that a final
court may take further action; otherwise, the court may dismiss the petition outright.―The return of the writ shall be made to the court and if the court finds that the judgment has
concept of continuing mandamus was first introduced in Metropolitan Manila Development been fully implemented, the satisfaction of judgment shall be entered in the court docket. A
Authority v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, 574 SCRA 661 (2008). Now cast in stone writ of continuing mandamus is, in essence, a command of continuing compliance with a
under Rule 8 of the Rules, the writ of continuing mandamus enjoys a distinct procedure final judgment as it “permits the court to retain jurisdiction after judgment in order to
than that of ordinary civil actions for the enforcement/violation of environmental laws, ensure the successful implementation of the reliefs mandated under the court’s decision.”
which are covered by Part II (Civil Procedure). Similar to the procedure under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court for special civil actions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, Section 4, Same; Same; Same; Failure to furnish a copy of the petition to the respondents is not a
Rule 8 of the Rules requires that the petition filed should be sufficient in form and fatal defect such that the case should be dismissed.―Failure to furnish a copy of the petition
substance before a court may take further action; otherwise, the court may dismiss the to the respondents is not a fatal defect such that the case should be dismissed. The RTC
petition outright. Courts must be cautioned, however, that the determination to give due could have just required the petitioners to furnish a copy of the petition to the respondents.
course to the petition or dismiss it outright is an exercise of discretion that must be applied It should be remembered that “courts are not enslaved by technicalities, and they have the
in a reasonable manner in consonance with the spirit of the law and always with the view in prerogative to relax compliance with procedural rules of even the most mandatory
mind of seeing to it that justice is served. character, mindful of the duty to reconcile both the need to speedily put an end to litigation
and the parties’ right to an opportunity to be heard.”
Same; Same; Same; On matters of form, the petition for continuing mandamus must PETITION for review on certiorari of the order and resolution of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon, Br. 53.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

be verified and must contain supporting evidence as well as a sworn certification of non- National Union for People’s Lawyer (NUPL) and Joven G. Laura for petitioner.
Gabriel & Mendoza Law Office for respondent Global Summit Mines Development Corporation.

forum shopping. It is also necessary that the petitioner must be one who is aggrieved by an Del Rosario Law Office for respondent Antonio C. Ocampo, Jr.
REYES, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the that: (1) there is no final court decree, order or decision that the public officials allegedly
Order2 dated September 16, 2011 and Resolution3 dated October 18, 2011 issued by the failed to act on; (2) the case was prematurely filed for failure to exhaust administrative
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sorsogon, Branch 53. The assailed issuances dismissed Civil remedies; and (3) the petitioners failed to attach judicial affidavits and furnish a copy of the
Case No. 2011-8338 for Continuing Mandamus, Damages and Attorney’s Fees with Prayer complaint to the government or appropriate agency.
for the Issuance of a Temporary Environment Protection Order.
Ruling of the Court
Antecedent Facts
Jurisdiction and Venue
On September 15, 2011, petitioner Maricris D. Dolot (Dolot), together with the parish priest
of the Holy Infant Jesus Parish and the officers of Alyansa Laban sa Mina sa Matnog
In dismissing the petition for lack of jurisdiction, the RTC, in its Order dated September 16,
(petitioners), filed a petition for continuing mandamus, damages and attorney’s fees with
2011, apparently relied on SC Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 7 defining the territorial
the RTC of Sorsogon, docketed as Civil Case No. 2011-8338.4 The petition contained the
areas of the Regional Trial Courts in Regions 1 to 12, and Administrative Circular (Admin.
following pertinent allegations: (1) sometime in 2009, they protested the iron ore mining
Circular) No. 23-2008,13 designating the environmental courts "to try and decide violations
operations being conducted by Antones Enterprises, Global Summit Mines Development
of environmental laws x x x committed within their respective territorial
Corporation and TR Ore in Barangays Balocawe and Bon-ot Daco, located in the
jurisdictions."14 Thus, it ruled that its territorial jurisdiction was limited within the
Municipality of Matnog, to no avail; (2) Matnog is located in the southern tip of Luzon and
boundaries of Sorsogon City and the neighboring municipalities of Donsol, Pilar, Castilla,
there is a need to protect, preserve and maintain the geological foundation of the
Casiguran and Juban and that it was "bereft of jurisdiction to entertain, hear and decide
municipality; (3) Matnog is susceptible to flooding and landslides, and confronted with the
[the] case, as such authority rests before another co-equal court."15
environmental dangers of flood hazard, liquefaction, ground settlement, ground subsidence
and landslide hazard; (4) after investigation, they learned that the mining operators did not
have the required permit to operate; (5) Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee and his predecessor Such reasoning is plainly erroneous. The RTC cannot solely rely on SC A.O. No. 7 and
Sally Lee issued to the operators a small-scale mining permit, which they did not have Admin. Circular No. 23-2008 and confine itself within its four corners in determining
authority to issue; (6) the representatives of the Presidential Management Staff and the whether it had jurisdiction over the action filed by the petitioners.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), despite knowledge, did not do
anything to protect the interest of the people of Matnog;5 and (7) the respondents violated None is more well-settled than the rule that jurisdiction, which is the power and authority
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7076 or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991, R.A. No. 7942 of the court to hear, try and decide a case, is conferred by law. 16 It may either be over the
or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and the Local Government Code. 6 Thus, they prayed nature of the action, over the subject matter, over the person of the defendants or over the
for the following reliefs: (1) the issuance of a writ commanding the respondents to issues framed in the pleadings.17 By virtue of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129 or the
immediately stop the mining operations in the Municipality of Matnog; (2) the issuance of a Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, jurisdiction over special civil actions for certiorari,
temporary environment protection order or TEPO; (3) the creation of an inter-agency group prohibition and mandamus is vested in the RTC. Particularly, Section 21(1) thereof provides
to undertake the rehabilitation of the mining site; (4) award of damages; and (5) return of that the RTCs shall exercise original jurisdiction –
the iron ore, among others.7

in the issuance of writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus
The case was referred by the Executive Judge to the RTC of Sorsogon, Branch 53 being the and injunction which may be enforced in any part of their respective regions. (Emphasis
designated environmental court.8 In the Order9 dated September 16, 2011, the case was ours)
summarily dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

A.O. No. 7 and Admin. Circular No. 23-2008 was issued pursuant to Section 18 of B.P. Blg.
The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied in the Resolution 10 dated 129, which gave the Court authority to define the territory over which a branch of the RTC
October 18, 2011. Aside from sustaining the dismissal of the case for lack of jurisdiction, the shall exercise its authority. These administrative orders and circulars issued by the Court
RTC11 further ruled that: (1) there was no final court decree, order or decision yet that the merely provide for the venue where an action may be filed. The Court does not have the
public officials allegedly failed to act on, which is a condition for the issuance of the writ of power to confer jurisdiction on any court or tribunal as the allocation of jurisdiction is
continuing mandamus; (2) the case was prematurely filed as the petitioners therein failed to lodged solely in Congress.18 It also cannot be delegated to another office or agency of the
exhaust their administrative remedies; and (3) they also failed to attach judicial affidavits Government.19 Section 18 of B.P. Blg. 129, in fact, explicitly states that the territory thus
and furnish a copy of the complaint to the government or appropriate agency, as required by defined shall be deemed to be the territorial area of the branch concerned for purposes of
the rules.12 determining the venue of all suits, proceedings or actions. It was also clarified in Office of
the Court Administrator v. Judge Matas20 that –
Petitioner Dolot went straight to this Court on pure questions of law.
Administrative Order No. 3 [defining the territorial jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts
Issues in the National Capital Judicial Region] and, in like manner, Circular Nos. 13 and 19, did
not per se confer jurisdiction on the covered regional trial courts or its branches, such that
non-observance thereof would nullify their judicial acts. The administrative order merely
The main issue in this case is whether the RTC-Branch 53 has jurisdiction to resolve Civil
defines the limits of the administrative area within which a branch of the court may
Case No. 2011-8338. The other issue is whether the petition is dismissible on the grounds
exercise its authority pursuant to the jurisdiction conferred by Batas Pambansa Blg. 129. 21
The RTC need not be reminded that venue relates only to the place of trial or the When any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof unlawfully
geographical location in which an action or proceeding should be brought and does not neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting
equate to the jurisdiction of the court. It is intended to accord convenience to the parties, as from an office, trust or station in connection with the enforcement or violation of an
it relates to the place of trial, and does not restrict their access to the courts.22Consequently, environmental law rule or regulation or a right therein, or unlawfully excludes another from
the RTC’s motu proprio dismissal of Civil Case No. 2011-8338 on the ground of lack of the use or enjoyment of such right and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy
jurisdiction is patently incorrect. in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the
proper court, alleging the facts with certainty, attaching thereto supporting evidence,
specifying that the petition concerns an environmental law, rule or regulation, and praying
At most, the error committed by the petitioners in filing the case with the RTC of Sorsogon
that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to do an act or series of acts until
was that of improper venue. A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC or the Rules of Procedure for
the judgment is fully satisfied, and to pay damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of
Environmental Cases (Rules) specifically states that a special civil action for continuing
the malicious neglect to perform the duties of the respondent, under the law, rules or
mandamus shall be filed with the "[RTC] exercising jurisdiction over the territory where the
regulations. The petition shall also contain a sworn certification of non-forum
actionable neglect or omission occurred x x x."23 In this case, it appears that the alleged
shopping.1âwphi1
actionable neglect or omission occurred in the Municipality of Matnog and as such, the
petition should have been filed in the RTC of Irosin.24 But even then, it does not warrant the
outright dismissal of the petition by the RTC as venue may be waived. 25 Moreover, the On matters of form, the petition must be verified and must contain supporting evidence as
action filed by the petitioners is not criminal in nature where venue is an essential element well as a sworn certification of non-forum shopping. It is also necessary that the petitioner
of jurisdiction.26 In Gomez-Castillo v. Commission on Elections,27 the Court even expressed must be one who is aggrieved by an act or omission of the government agency,
that what the RTC should have done under the circumstances was to transfer the case (an instrumentality or its officer concerned. Sufficiency of substance, on the other hand,
election protest) to the proper branch. Similarly, it would serve the higher interest of necessitates that the petition must contain substantive allegations specifically constituting
justice28 if the Court orders the transfer of Civil Case No. 2011 8338 to the RTC of Irosin for an actionable neglect or omission and must establish, at the very least, a prima facie basis
proper and speedy resolution, with the RTC applying the Rules in its disposition of the case. for the issuance of the writ, viz: (1) an agency or instrumentality of government or its officer
unlawfully neglects the performance of an act or unlawfully excludes another from the use
or enjoyment of a right; (2) the act to be performed by the government agency,
At this juncture, the Court affirms the continuing applicability of Admin. Circular No. 23-
instrumentality or its officer is specifically enjoined by law as a duty; (3) such duty results
2008 constituting the different "green courts" in the country and setting the administrative
from an office, trust or station in connection with the enforcement or violation of an
guidelines in the raffle and disposition of environmental cases. While the designation and
environmental law, rule or regulation or a right therein; and (4) there is no other plain,
guidelines were made in 2008, the same should operate in conjunction with the Rules.
speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law.32

A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC: Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases


The writ of continuing mandamus is a special civil action that may be availed of "to compel
the performance of an act specifically enjoined by law." 33 The petition should mainly involve
In its Resolution dated October 18, 2011, which resolved the petitioners’ motion for an environmental and other related law, rule or regulation or a right therein. The RTC’s
reconsideration of the order of dismissal, the RTC further ruled that the petition was mistaken notion on the need for a final judgment, decree or order is apparently based on the
dismissible on the following grounds: (1) there is no final court decree, order or decision yet definition of the writ of continuing mandamus under Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules, to wit:
that the public officials allegedly failed to act on; (2) the case was prematurely filed for
failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and (3) there was failure to attach judicial
(c) Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court in an environmental case directing any
affidavits and furnish a copy of the complaint to the government or appropriate
agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of
agency.29 The respondents, and even the Office of the Solicitor General, in behalf of the
acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until judgment is fully satisfied.
public respondents, all concur with the view of the RTC.
(Emphasis ours)

The concept of continuing mandamus was first introduced in Metropolitan Manila


The final court decree, order or decision erroneously alluded to by the RTC actually pertains
Development Authority v. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay.30 Now cast in stone under
to the judgment or decree that a court would eventually render in an environmental case for
Rule 8 of the Rules, the writ of continuing mandamus enjoys a distinct procedure than that
continuing mandamus and which judgment or decree shall subsequently become final.
of ordinary civil actions for the enforcement/violation of environmental laws, which are
covered by Part II (Civil Procedure). Similar to the procedure under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court for special civil actions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, Section 4, Rule 8 of Under the Rules, after the court has rendered a judgment in conformity with Rule 8, Section
the Rules requires that the petition filed should be sufficient in form and substance before a 7 and such judgment has become final, the issuing court still retains jurisdiction over the
court may take further action; otherwise, the court may dismiss the petition outright. case to ensure that the government agency concerned is performing its tasks as mandated
Courts must be cautioned, however, that the determination to give due course to the by law and to monitor the effective performance of said tasks. It is only upon full
petition or dismiss it outright is an exercise of discretion that must be applied in a satisfaction of the final judgment, order or decision that a final return of the writ shall be
reasonable manner in consonance with the spirit of the law and always with the view in made to the court and if the court finds that the judgment has been fully implemented, the
mind of seeing to it that justice is served.31 satisfaction of judgment shall be entered in the court docket. 34 A writ of continuing
mandamus is, in essence, a command of continuing compliance with a final judgment as it
"permits the court to retain jurisdiction after judgment in order to ensure the successful
Sufficiency in form and substance refers to the contents of the petition filed under Rule 8,
implementation of the reliefs mandated under the court’s decision."35
Section 1:
The Court, likewise, cannot sustain the argument that the petitioners should have first filed SO ORDERED.
a case with the Panel of Arbitrators (Panel), which has jurisdiction over mining disputes
under R.A. No. 7942.

Indeed, as pointed out by the respondents, the Panel has jurisdiction over mining
disputes.36 But the petition filed below does not involve a mining dispute. What was being
protested are the alleged negative environmental impact of the small-scale mining operation
being conducted by Antones Enterprises, Global Summit Mines Development Corporation
and TR Ore in the Municipality of Matnog; the authority of the Governor of Sorsogon to
issue mining permits in favor of these entities; and the perceived indifference of the DENR
and local government officials over the issue. Resolution of these matters does not entail the
technical knowledge and expertise of the members of the Panel but requires an exercise of
judicial function. Thus, in Olympic Mines and Development Corp. v. Platinum Group Metals
Corporation,37 the Court stated –

Arbitration before the Panel of Arbitrators is proper only when there is a disagreement
between the parties as to some provisions of the contract between them, which needs the
interpretation and the application of that particular knowledge and expertise possessed by
members of that Panel. It is not proper when one of the parties repudiates the existence or
validity of such contract or agreement on the ground of fraud or oppression as in this case.
The validity of the contract cannot be subject of arbitration proceedings. Allegations of fraud
and duress in the execution of a contract are matters within the jurisdiction of the ordinary
courts of law. These questions are legal in nature and require the application and
interpretation of laws and jurisprudence which is necessarily a judicial function. 38(Emphasis
supplied in the former and ours in the latter)

Consequently, resort to the Panel would be completely useless and unnecessary.

The Court also finds that the RTC erred in ruling that the petition is infirm for failure to
attach judicial affidavits. As previously stated, Rule 8 requires that the petition should be
verified, contain supporting evidence and must be accompanied by a sworn certification of
non-forum shopping. There is nothing in Rule 8 that compels the inclusion of judicial
affidavits, albeit not prohibited. It is only if the evidence of the petitioner would consist of
testimony of witnesses that it would be the time that judicial affidavits (affidavits of
witnesses in the question and answer form) must be attached to the petition/complaint.39

Finally, failure to furnish a copy of the petition to the respondents is not a fatal defect such
that the case should be dismissed. The RTC could have just required the petitioners to
furnish a copy of the petition to the respondents. It should be remembered that "courts are
not enslaved by technicalities, and they have the prerogative to relax compliance with
procedural rules of even the most mandatory character, mindful of the duty to reconcile both
the need to speedily put an end to litigation and the parties’ right to an opportunity to be
heard."40

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Order dated September 16, 2011 and
Resolution dated October 18, 2011 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon, Branch
53, dismissing Civil Case No. 2011-8338 are NULLIFIED AND SET ASIDE. The Executive
Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon is DIRECTED to transfer the case to the
Regional Trial Court of Irosin, Branch 55, for further proceedings with dispatch. Petitioner G.R. No. 207257. February 3, 2015.*
Maricris D. Dolot is also ORDERED to furnish the respondents with a copy of the petition
HON. RAMON JESUS P. PAJE, in his capacity as SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
and its annexes within ten (10) days from receipt of this Decision and to submit its
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR), petitioner, vs. HON. TEODORO A. CASIÑO,
Compliance with the RTC of Irosin. HON. RAYMOND V. PALATINO, HON. RAFAEL V. MARIANO, HON. EMERENCIANA A. DE JESUS,
CLEMENTE G. BAUTISTA, JR., HON. ROLEN C. PAULINO, HON. EDUARDO PIANO, HON. JAMES
DE LOS REYES, HON. AQUILINO Y. CORTEZ, JR., HON. SARAH LUGERNA LIPUMANO-GARCIA, violation of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology of the magnitude
NORAIDA VELARMINO, BIANCA CHRISTINE GAMBOA ESPINOS, CHARO SIMONS, GREGORIO contemplated under the Rules. Otherwise, the petition should be dismissed outright and the
LLORCA MAGDARAOG, RUBELH PERALTA, ALEX CORPUS HERMOSO, RODOLFO SAMBAJON,
action refiled before the proper forum with due regard to the doctrine of exhaustion of
REV. FR. GERARDO GREGORIO P. JORGE, CARLITO A. BALOY, OFELIA D. PABLO, MARIO
ESQUILLO, ELLE LATINAZO, EVANGELINE Q. RODRIGUEZ, JOHN CARLO DELOS REYES,
administrative remedies. This must be so if we are to preserve the noble and laudable
respondents. purposes of the writ against those who seek to abuse it.

Remedial Law; Special Civil Actions; Writ of Kalikasan; The Rules on the Writ of Same; Same; Same; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Due to the extreme
Kalikasan, which is Part III of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (RPEC), was urgency of the matter at hand, the present case is an exception to the doctrine of exhaustion of
issued by the Court pursuant to its power to promulgate rules for the protection and administrative remedies.—Be that as it may, we shall resolve both the issues proper in a
enforcement of constitutional rights, in particular, the individual’s right to a balanced and writ of kalikasan case and those which are not, commingled as it were here, because of the
healthful ecology.—The Rules on the Writ of Kalikasan, which is Part III of the Rules of exceptional character of this case. We take judicial notice of the looming power crisis that
Procedure for Environmental Cases, was issued by the Court pursuant to its power to our nation faces. Thus, the resolution of all the issues in this case is of utmost urgency and
promulgate rules for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, in particular, necessity in order to finally determine the fate of the project center of this controversy. If we
the individual’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology. Section 1 of Rule 7 provides: were to resolve only the issues proper in a writ of kalikasan case and dismiss those not
Section 1. Nature of the writ.—The writ is a remedy available to a natural or juridical proper therefor, that will leave such unresolved issues open to another round of protracted
person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, nongovernmental organization, or litigation. In any case, we find the records sufficient to resolve all the issues presented
any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf herein. We also rule that, due to the extreme urgency of the matter at hand, the present
of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or case is an exception to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. As we have
threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or often ruled, in exceptional cases, we can suspend the rules of procedure in order to achieve
private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to substantial justice, and to address urgent and paramount State interests vital to the life of
prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. our nation.

Same; Same; Same; The writ of kalikasan is categorized as a special civil action and Same; Same; Same; The Rules on the Writ of Kalikasan allow the parties to raise, on
was, thus, conceptualized as an extraordinary remedy, which aims to provide judicial relief appeal, questions of fact — and, thus, constitutes an exception to Rule 45 of the Rules of
from threatened or actual violation/s of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful Court — because of the extraordinary nature of the circumstances surrounding the issuance
ecology of a magnitude or degree of damage that transcends political and territorial of a writ of kalikasan.—It is worth noting that the Rules on the Writ of Kalikasan allow the
boundaries.—The writ is categorized as a special civil action and was, thus, conceptualized parties to raise, on appeal, questions of fact — and, thus, constitutes an exception to Rule 45
as an extraordinary remedy, which aims to provide judicial relief from threatened or actual of the Rules of Court — because of the extraordinary nature of the circumstances
violation/s of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology of a magnitude or surrounding the issuance of a writ of kalikasan. Thus, we shall review both questions of
degree of damage that transcends political and territorial boundaries. It is intended “to law and fact in resolving the issues presented in this case.
provide a stronger defense for environmental rights through judicial efforts where
institutional arrangements of enforcement, implementation and legislation have fallen Same; Same; Same; The Supreme Court (SC) sustains the appellate court’s findings
short” and seeks “to address the potentially exponential nature of large-scale ecological that the Casiño Group failed to establish the alleged grave environmental damage which will
threats.” Under Section 1 of Rule 7, the following requisites must be present to avail of this be caused by the construction and operation of the power plant.—In upholding the evidence
extraordinary remedy: (1) there is an actual or threatened violation of the constitutional and arguments of RP Energy, relative to the lack of proof as to the alleged significant
right to a balanced and healthful ecology; (2) the actual or threatened violation arises from environmental damage that will be caused by the project, the appellate court relied mainly
an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity; on the testimonies of experts, which we find to be in accord with judicial precedents. Thus,
and (3) the actual or threatened violation involves or will lead to an environmental damage we ruled in one case: Although courts are not ordinarily bound by testimonies of experts,
of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more they may place whatever weight they choose upon such testimonies in accordance with the
cities or provinces. Expectedly, the Rules do not define the exact nature or degree of facts of the case. The relative weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is peculiarly within
environmental damage but only that it must be sufficiently grave, in terms of the territorial the province of the trial court to decide, considering the ability and character of the witness,
scope of such damage, so as to call for the grant of this extraordinary remedy. The gravity of his actions upon the witness stand, the weight and process of the reasoning by which he has
environmental damage sufficient to grant the writ is, thus, to be decided on a case-to-case supported his opinion, his possible bias in favor of the side for whom he testifies, the fact
basis. that he is a paid witness, the relative opportunities for study and observation of the matters
about which he testifies, and any other matters which serve to illuminate his statements.
Same; Same; Same; The writ of kalikasan is principally predicated on an actual or The opinion of the expert may not be arbitrarily rejected; it is to be considered by the court
threatened violation of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, which in view of all the facts and circumstances in the case and when common knowledge utterly
involves environmental damage of a magnitude that transcends political and territorial fails, the expert opinion may be given controlling effects. (20 Am. Jur., 1056-1058) The
boundaries.—As earlier noted, the writ of kalikasan is principally predicated on an actual or problem of the credibility of the expert witness and the evaluation of his testimony is left to
threatened violation of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, which the discretion of the trial court whose ruling thereupon is not reviewable in the absence of
involves environmental damage of a magnitude that transcends political and territorial an abuse of that discretion. Hence, we sustain the appellate court’s findings that the Casiño
boundaries. A party, therefore, who invokes the writ based on alleged defects or Group failed to establish the alleged grave environmental damage which will be caused by
irregularities in the issuance of an ECC must not only allege and prove such defects or the construction and operation of the power plant.
irregularities, but must also provide a causal link or, at least, a reasonable connection
between the defects or irregularities in the issuance of an ECC and the actual or threatened Same; Same; Same; The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases liberally provide
the courts with means and methods to obtain sufficient information in order to adequately
protect or safeguard the right to a healthful and balanced ecology.—The Rules of Procedure Accountability has the effect of invalidating the ECC. Unlike in wills or donations, where
for Environmental Cases liberally provide the courts with means and methods to obtain failure to comply with the specific form prescribed by law leads to its nullity, the applicable
sufficient information in order to adequately protect or safeguard the right to a healthful laws here are silent with respect to the necessity of a signature in the Statement of
and balanced ecology. In Section 6(l) of Rule 3 (Pre-Trial), when there is a failure to settle, Accountability and the effect of the lack thereof. This is, of course, understandable because
the judge shall, among others, determine the necessity of engaging the services of a the Statement of Accountability is a mere offshoot of the rule-making powers of the DENR
qualified expert as a friend of the court (amicus curiae). While, in Section 12 of Rule 7 (Writ relative to the implementation of PD 1151 and PD 1586. To determine, therefore, the effect
of Kalikasan), a party may avail of discovery measures: (1) ocular inspection and (2) of the lack of signature, we must look at the significance thereof under the Environmental
production or inspection of documents or things. The liberality of the Rules in gathering and Impact Assessment (EIA) Rules of the DENR and the surrounding circumstances of this
even compelling information, specifically with regard to the Writ of Kalikasan, is explained case.
in this wise: [T]he writ of kalikasan was refashioned as a tool to bridge the gap between
allegation and proof by providing a remedy for would-be environmental litigants to compel Same; While the signature is necessary for the validity of the Environmental
the production of information within the custody of the government. The writ would Compliance Certificate (ECC), the particular circumstances of this case show that the
effectively serve as a remedy for the enforcement of the right to information about the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Redondo Peninsula
environment. The scope of the fact-finding power could be: (1) anything related to the Energy, Inc. (RP Energy) were not properly apprised of the issue of lack of signature in order
issuance, grant of a government permit issued or information controlled by the government for them to present controverting evidence and arguments on this point, as the matter only
or private entity and (2) [i]nformation contained in documents such as environmental developed during the course of the proceedings upon clarificatory questions from the
compliance certificate (ECC) and other government records. In addition, the [w]rit may also appellate court.—In sum, we rule that the appellate court erred when it invalidated the
be employed to compel the production of information, subject to constitutional limitations. ECC on the ground of lack of signature of Mr. Aboitiz in the ECC’s Statement of
This function is analogous to a discovery measure, and may be availed of upon application Accountability relative to the copy of the ECC submitted by RP Energy to the appellate
for the writ. court. While the signature is necessary for the validity of the ECC, the particular
circumstances of this case show that the DENR and RP Energy were not properly apprised
Same; Same; Same; In environmental cases, the power to appoint friends of the court of the issue of lack of signature in order for them to present controverting evidence and
in order to shed light on matters requiring special technical expertise as well as the power to arguments on this point, as the matter only developed during the course of the proceedings
order ocular inspections and production of documents or things evince the main thrust of, upon clarificatory questions from the appellate court. Consequently, RP Energy cannot be
and the spirit behind, the Rules to allow the court sufficient leeway in acquiring the faulted for submitting the certified true copy of the ECC only after it learned that the ECC
necessary information to rule on the issues presented for its resolution, to the end that the had been invalidated on the ground of lack of signature in the January 30, 2013 Decision of
right to a healthful and balanced ecology may be adequately protected.—In environmental the appellate court.
cases, the power to appoint friends of the court in order to shed light on matters requiring
special technical expertise as well as the power to order ocular inspections and production of “License” and “Permit,” Distinguished.—The IPRA Law and its implementing rules do
documents or things evince the main thrust of, and the spirit behind, the Rules to allow the not define the terms “license” and “permit” so that resort to their plain or ordinary meaning
court sufficient leeway in acquiring the necessary information to rule on the issues in relation to the intendment of the law is appropriate. A “license” has been defined as “a
presented for its resolution, to the end that the right to a healthful and balanced ecology governmental permission to perform a particular act (such as getting married), conduct a
may be adequately protected. To draw a parallel, in the protection of the constitutional particular business or occupation, operate machinery or vehicles after proving capacity and
rights of an accused, when life or liberty is at stake, the testimonies of witnesses may be ability to do so safely, or use property for a certain purpose” while a “permit” has been
compelled as an attribute of the Due Process Clause. Here, where the right to a healthful defined as “a license or other document given by an authorized public official or agency
and balanced ecology of a substantial magnitude is at stake, should we not tread the path of (building inspector, department of motor vehicles) to allow a person or business to perform
caution and prudence by compelling the testimonies of these alleged experts? certain acts.”

Procedural Rules and Technicalities; A court has the power to suspend its rules of Remedial Law; Special Civil Actions; Writ of Kalikasan; Ancestral Domain; Even if
procedure in order to attain substantial justice so that it has the discretion, in exceptional the indigenous community does not actually reside on the proposed lease site, the government
cases, to take into consideration matters not originally within the scope of the issues raised in agency would still be required to obtain the Certificate of Non-Overlap (CNO) precisely to
the pleadings or set during the preliminary conference, in order to prevent a miscarriage of rule out the possibility that the proposed lease site encroaches upon an ancestral domain.—
justice.—A court has the power to suspend its rules of procedure in order to attain Even if the indigenous community does not actually reside on the proposed lease site, the
substantial justice so that it has the discretion, in exceptional cases, to take into government agency would still be required to obtain the CNO precisely to rule out the
consideration matters not originally within the scope of the issues raised in the pleadings or possibility that the proposed lease site encroaches upon an ancestral domain. The reason for
set during the preliminary conference, in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice. In the this is that an ancestral domain does not only cover the lands actually occupied by an
case at bar, the importance of the signature cannot be seriously doubted because it goes into indigenous community, but all areas where they have a claim of ownership, through time
the consent and commitment of the project proponent to comply with the conditions of the immemorial use, such as hunting, burial or worship grounds and to which they have
ECC, which is vital to the protection of the right to a balanced and healthful ecology of those traditional access for their subsistence and other traditional activities.
who may be affected by the project.
Same; Same; Same; Same; That the project site was formerly used as the firing range
Environmental Compliance Certificate; The laws governing the Environmental of the U.S. Armed Forces does not preclude the possibility that a present or future claim of
Compliance Certificate (ECC), i.e., Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1151 and PD 1586, do not ancestral domain may be made over the aforesaid site.—That the project site was formerly
specifically state that the lack of signature in the Statement of Accountability has the effect of used as the firing range of the U.S. Armed Forces does not preclude the possibility that a
invalidating the ECC.—The laws governing the ECC, i.e., Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1151 present or future claim of ancestral domain may be made over the aforesaid site. The
and PD 1586, do not specifically state that the lack of signature in the Statement of
concept of an ancestral domain indicates that, even if the use of an area was interrupted by ultimately result in the infringement of the basic right to a healthful and balanced ecology. And said
the occupation of foreign forces, it may still be validly claimed to be an ancestral domain. unlawful act or omission would invariably constitute grave abuse of discretion which, ordinarily, could be
addressed by the corrective hand of certiorari under Rule 65. In those cases, a petition for writ
of kalikasan would still be the superior remedy as in the present controversy, crafted as it were precisely
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; Jurisdiction; The Supreme Court (SC) finds that to address and meet head-on such situations. Put a bit differently, in proceedings involving enforcement
the power to approve or disapprove projects within the Subic Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) or violation of environmental laws, where arbitrariness or caprice is ascribed to a public official, the
is one such power over which the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s (SBMA’s) authority sharper weapon to correct the wrong would be a suit for the issuance of the kalikasan writ.
prevails over the Local Government Unit’s (LGU’s) autonomy.—In the case at bar, we find
that the power to approve or disapprove projects within the SSEZ is one such power over Same; Same; Same; View that the advent of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC to be sure brought about
which the SBMA’s authority prevails over the LGU’s autonomy. Hence, there is no need for significant changes in the procedural rules that apply to environmental cases.—The advent of A.M. No.
the SBMA to secure the approval of the concerned sanggunians prior to the implementation 09-6-8-SC to be sure brought about significant changes in the procedural rules that apply to
environmental cases. The differences on eight (8) areas between a Rule 65 certiorari petition and Rule
of the subject project. This interpretation is based on the broad grant of powers to the SBMA 7 kalikasan petition may be stated as follows: 1. Subject matter. Since its subject matter is any
over all administrative matters relating to the SSEZ under Section 13 of RA 7227, as “unlawful act or omission,” a Rule 7 kalikasan petition is broad enough to correct any act taken without
aforediscussed. Equally important, under Section 14, other than those involving defense and or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
security, the SBMA’s decision prevails in case of conflict between the SBMA and the LGUs which is the subject matter of a Rule 65 certiorari petition. Any form of abuse of discretion as long as it
in all matters concerning the SSEZ. constitutes an unlawful act or omission involving the environment can be subject of a Rule
7 kalikasan petition. A Rule 65 petition, on the other hand, requires the abuse of discretion to be “grave.”
Remedial Law; Special Civil Actions; Writ of Kalikasan; In exceptional cases, a writ of Ergo, a subject matter which mordinarily cannot properly be subject of a certiorari petition can be the
subject of a kalikasan petition. 2. Who may file. Rule 7 has liberalized the rule on locus standi, such
kalikasan may be availed of to challenge defects in the Environmental Compliance that availment of the writ of kalikasan is open to a broad range of suitors, to include even an entity
Certificate (ECC).—In general, the proper procedure to question a defect in an ECC is to authorized by law, people’s organization or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any
follow the appeal process provided in DAO 2003-30 and the Revised Manual. After government agency, on behalf of persons whose right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or
complying with the proper administrative appeal process, recourse may be made to the threatened to be violated. Rule 65 allows only the aggrieved person to be the petitioner. 3. Respondent.
courts in accordance with the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. However, The respondent in a Rule 65 petition is only the government or its officers, unlike in a kalikasan petition
as earlier discussed, in exceptional cases, a writ of kalikasan may be availed of to challenge where the respondent may be a private individual or entity. 4. Exemption from docket fees.
defects in the ECC provided that (1) the defects are causally linked or reasonably The kalikasan petition is exempt from docket fees, unlike in a Rule 65 petition. Rule 7 of RPEC has pared
down the usually burdensome litigation expenses. 5. Venue. The certiorari petition can be filed with (a)
connected to an environmental damage of the nature and magnitude contemplated under the RTC exercising jurisdiction over the territory where the act was committed; (b) the Court of Appeals;
the Rules on Writ of Kalikasan, and (2) the case does not violate, or falls under an exception and (c) the Supreme Court. Given the magnitude of the damage, the kalikasan petition can be filed
to, the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies and/or primary jurisdiction. directly with the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. The direct filing of a kalikasan petition will
prune case delay. 6. Exhaustion of administrative remedies. This doctrine generally applies to
Velasco, Jr., J., Concurring Opinion: a certiorari petition, unlike in a kalikasan petition. 7. Period to file. An aggrieved party has 60 days
Remedial Law; Special Civil Actions; Writ of Kalikasan; View that the special civil action for a from notice of judgment or denial of a motion for reconsideration to file a certiorari petition, while
writ of kalikasan under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (RPEC for brevity) is, I a kalikasan petition is not subject to such limiting time lines. 8. Discovery measures. In
submit, the best available and proper remedy for petitioners Casiño, et al.—The special civil action for a a certiorari petition, discovery measures are not available unlike in a kalikasan petition. Resort to these
writ of kalikasan under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (RPEC for brevity) is, I measures will abbreviate proceedings. It is clear as day that a kalikasan petition provides more ample
submit, the best available and proper remedy for petitioners Casino, et al. As distinguished from other advantages to a suitor than a Rule 65 petition for certiorari.
available remedies in the ordinary rules of court, the writ of kalikasan is designed for a narrow but
special purpose: to accord a stronger protection for environmental rights, aiming, among others, to Same; Same; Same; View that each organism, inclusive of the human of the species, reacts
provide a speedy and effective resolution of a case involving the violation of one’s constitutional right to a differently to a foreign body or a pollutant, thus, the need to address each environmental case on a case-to-
healthful and balanced ecology. As a matter of fact, by explicit directive from the Court, the RPEC are case basis.—To require that there should be no possibility of any countervailing interests existing within
SPECIAL RULES crafted precisely to govern environmental cases. On the other hand, the “remedies that the population represented or those that are yet to be born would likewise effectively remove the rule on
can contribute to the protection of communities and their environment” alluded to in Justice Leonen’s citizens suits from our Environmental Rules or render it superfluous. No party could possibly prove, and
dissent clearly form part of the Rules of Court which by express provision of the special rules for no court could calculate, whether there is a possibility that other countervailing interests exist in a given
environmental cases “shall apply in a suppletory manner” under Section 2 of Rule 22. Suppletory means situation. We should not lose sight of the fact that the impact of an activity to the environment, to our
“supplying deficiencies.” It is apparent that there is no vacuum in the special rules on the legal remedy flora and fauna, and to the health of each and every citizen will never become an absolute certainty such
on unlawful acts or omission concerning environmental damage since precisely Rule 7 on the writ that it can be predicted or calculated without error, especially if we are talking about generations yet
of kalikasan encompasses all conceivable situations of this nature. unborn where we would obviously not have a basis for said determination. Each organism, inclusive of
the human of the species, reacts differently to a foreign body or a pollutant, thus, the need to address
Same; Same; Same; View on the Requisites for the Proper Availment of the Kalikasan Writ.— each environmental case on a case-to-case basis. Too, making sure that there are no countervailing
Availment of the kalikasan writ would, therefore, be proper if the following requisites concur in a given interests in existence, especially those of populations yet unborn, would only cause delays in the
case: 1. that there is an actual or threatened violation of the constitutional right to a balanced and resolution of an environmental case as this is a gargantuan, if not well-nigh impossible, task.
healthful ecology; 2. the actual or threatened violation is due to an unlawful act or omission of a public
official or employee, or private individual or entity; 3. the situation in the ground involves an Same; Same; Same; Res Judicata; View that the rule on res judicata should not likewise be applied
environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two to environmental cases with the same degree of rigidity observed in ordinary civil cases, contrary to the
or more cities or provinces. dissent’s contention.—The rule on res judicata should not likewise be applied to environmental cases with
the same degree of rigidity observed in ordinary civil cases, contrary to the dissent’s contention. Suffice it
Same; Same; Same; View that in proceedings involving enforcement or violation of environmental to state that the highly dynamic, generally unpredictable, and unique nature of environmental cases
laws, where arbitrariness or caprice is ascribed to a public official, the sharper weapon to correct the precludes Us from applying the said principle in environmental cases.
wrong would be a suit for the issuance of the kalikasan writ.—Anent Justice Leonen’s argument that
there are other “remedies that can contribute to the protection of communities and their environment” Same; Same; Same; View that the imposition of the suggested conditions would virtually render
other than Rule 7 of RPEC, doubtless referring to a Rule 65 petition, allow me to state in disagreement the provisions on citizen’s suit a pure jargon, a useless rule, in short.—The true and full extent of an
that there are instances when the act or omission of a public official or employee complained of will environmental damage is difficult to fully comprehend, much so to predict. Considering the dynamics of
nature, where every aspect thereof is interlinked, directly or indirectly, it can be said that a negative file suits for others. Uninterested persons will argue for the persons they represent, and the court will
impact on the environment, though at times may appear minuscule at one point, may cause a serious decide based on their evidence and arguments. Any decision by the court will be binding upon the
imbalance to our environs in the long run. And it is not always that this imbalance immediately surfaces. beneficiaries, which in this case are the minors and the future generations. The court’s decision will
In some instances, it may take years before we realize that the deterioration is already serious and be res judicata upon them and conclusive upon the issues presented. Thus, minors and future
possibly irreparable, just as what happened to the Manila Bay where decades of neglect, if not sheer generations will be barred from litigating their interests in the future, however different it is from what
citizen and bureaucratic neglect, ultimately resulted in the severe pollution of the Bay. To my mind, the was approximated for them by the persons who alleged to represent them. This may weaken our future
imposition of the suggested conditions would virtually render the provisions on citizen’s suit a pure generations’ ability to decide and argue for themselves based on the circumstances and concerns that are
jargon, a useless rule, in short. actually present in their time. Expanding the scope of who may be real parties-in-interest in
environmental cases to include minors and generations yet unborn “opened a dangerous practice of
Leonen, J., Concurring and Dissenting Opinion: binding parties who are yet incapable of making choices for themselves, either due to minority or the
Remedial Law; Special Civil Actions; Writ of Kalikasan; View that a writ of kalikasan is not the sheer fact that they do not yet exist.”
proper remedy for proposed projects whose environmental compliance certificates (ECC) are yet to be
issued or may still be questioned through the proper administrative and legal review processes.—A Writ Same; Same; Same; View that the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) ruling in Oposa v. Factoran, 224 SCRA
of Kalikasan is an extraordinary and equitable writ that lies only to prevent an actual or imminent 792 (1993), should, therefore, be abandoned or at least should be limited.—This court’s ruling
threat “of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities in Oposa should, therefore, be abandoned or at least should be limited to situations when: (1) “There is a
or provinces.” It is not the proper remedy to stop a project that has not yet been built. It is not the proper clear legal basis for the representative suit; (2) There are actual concerns based squarely upon an
remedy for proposed projects whose environmental compliance certificates (ECC) are yet to be issued or existing legal right; (3) There is no possibility of any countervailing interests existing within the
may still be questioned through the proper administrative and legal review processes. In other words, the population represented or those that are yet to be born; and (4) There is an absolute necessity for such
petition for a Writ of Kalikasan does not subsume and is not a replacement for all remedies that can standing because there is a threat or catastrophe so imminent that an immediate protective measure is
contribute to the protection of communities and their environment. necessary.”

Same; Same; Same; View that compliance with Sections 26and 27 of the Local Government Code Same; Same; Same; “Representative Suits” and “Class Suits,” Distinguished.—Representative
(LGC) and the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) is not a matter that relates to suits are different from class suits. Rule 3, Section 12 of the Rules of Court provides: SEC. 12.Class
environmental protection directly.—Compliance with Sections 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code suit.—When the subject matter of the controversy is one of common or general interest to many persons
and the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) is not a matter that relates to so numerous that it is impracticable to join all as parties, a number of them which the court finds to be
environmental protection directly. The absence of compliance with these laws forms causes of action that sufficiently numerous and representative as to fully protect the interests of all concerned may sue or
cannot also be brought through a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan. This case highlights the defend for the benefit of all. Any party-in-interest shall have the right to protect his individual interest.
dangers of abuse of the extraordinary remedy of the Writ of Kalikasan. Petitioners were not able to move Thus, class suits may be filed when the following are present: a) When the subject matter of the
forward with substantial evidence. Their attempt to present technical evidence and expert opinion was so controversy is of common or general interest to many persons; b) When such persons are so numerous
woefully inadequate that they put at great risk the remedies of those who they purported to represent in that it is impracticable to join them all as parties; and c) When such persons are sufficiently numerous as
this suit inclusive of generations yet unborn. to represent and protect fully the interests of all concerned. A class suit is a representative suit insofar as
the persons who institute it represent the entire class of persons who have the same interest or who
Same; Same; Same; Real Party-in-Interest; View that an action may be dismissed on the ground of suffered the same injury. However, unlike representative suits, the persons instituting a class suit are
lack of cause of action if the person who instituted it is not the real party-in-interest.—A person cannot not suing merely as representatives. They themselves are real parties-in-interest directly injured by the
invoke the court’s jurisdiction if he or she has no right or interest to protect. He or she who invokes the acts or omissions complained of. There is a common cause of action in a class. The group collectively —
court’s jurisdiction must be the “owner of the right sought to be enforced.” In other words, he or she must not individually — enjoys the right sought to be enforced.
have a cause of action. An action may be dismissed on the ground of lack of cause of action if the person
who instituted it is not the real party-in-interest. The term “interest” under the Rules of Court must refer Same; Evidence; Expert Opinions; View that with the tools of science as their guide, courts should
to a material interest that is not merely a curiosity about or an “interest in the question involved.” The also examine the internal and external coherence of the hypothesis presented by the experts, recognize their
interest must be present and substantial. It is not a mere expectancy or a future, contingent interest. A assumptions, and examine whether the conclusions of cause and effect are based on reasonable inferences
person who is not a real party-in-interest may institute an action if he or she is suing as representative of from scientifically sound experimentation.—Expert opinions are presumed valid though such presumption
a real party-in-interest. When an action is prosecuted or defended by a representative, that is disputable. In the proper actions, courts may evaluate the expert’s credibility. Credibility, when it
representative is not and does not become the real party-in-interest. The person represented is deemed comes to environmental cases, is not limited to good reputation within their scientific community. With
the real party-in-interest. The representative remains to be a third party to the action instituted on the tools of science as their guide, courts should also examine the internal and external coherence of the
behalf of another. hypothesis presented by the experts, recognize their assumptions, and examine whether the conclusions
of cause and effect are based on reasonable inferences from scientifically sound experimentation.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Citizen’s Suits; View that in citizen’s suits filed under the Rules of Refereed academic scientific publications may assist to evaluate claims made by expert witnesses. With
Procedure for Environmental Cases (RPEC), the real parties-in-interest are the minors and the generations the tools present within the scientific community, those whose positions based on hysteria or
yet unborn.—The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases allows filing of a citizen’s suit. A citizen’s unsupported professional opinion will become obvious.
suit under this rule allows any Filipino citizen to file an action for the enforcement of environmental law
on behalf of minors or generations yet unborn. It is essentially a representative suit that allows persons Same; Writ of Kalikasan; View that the standing of the parties filing a Petition for the Issuance of
who are not real parties-in-interest to institute actions on behalf of the real party-in-interest. In citizen’s a Writ of Kalikasan may be granted when there is adequate showing that: (a) the suing party has a direct
suits filed under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, the real parties-in-interest are the and substantial interest; (b) there is a cogent legal basis for the allegations and arguments; and (c) the
minors and the generations yet unborn. Section 5 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases person suing has sufficient knowledge and is capable of presenting all the facts that are involved including
provides: SEC. 5. Citizen suit.—Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or the scientific basis.—In my view, the standing of the parties filing a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ
generations yet unborn may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. of Kalikasan may be granted when there is adequate showing that: (a) the suing party has a direct and
Upon the filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of substantial interest; (b) there is a cogent legal basis for the allegations and arguments; and (c) the person
the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to suing has sufficient knowledge and is capable of presenting all the facts that are involved including the
intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once scientific basis.
in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said
order. Same; Same; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; View that it is only after this exhaustion of
administrative remedies which embeds the possibility of recruiting technical advice that judicial review
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; View that in citizen’s suits, persons who may have no interest in can be had of the legally cogent standards and processes that were used.—A Petition for the Issuance of a
the case may file suits for others.—In citizen’s suits, persons who may have no interest in the case may Writ of Kalikasanis not the proper remedy to raise this defect in courts. ECCs issued by the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources may be the subject of a motion for reconsideration with the Office Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Judicial Review; View that judicial review of administrative
of the Secretary. The Office of the Secretary may inform himself or herself of the science necessary to findings or decisions is justified if the conclusions are not supported by the required standard of
evaluate the grant or denial of an ECC by commissioning scientific advisers or creating a technical panel evidence.—Judicial review of administrative findings or decisions is justified if the conclusions are not
of experts. The same can be done at the level of the Office of the President where the actions of the Office supported by the required standard of evidence. It is also justified in the following instances as
of the Secretary of the DENR may be questioned. It is only after this exhaustion of administrative enumerated in Atlas Consolidated Mining v. Factoran, Jr., 154 SCRA 49 (1987): . . . findings of fact in
remedies which embeds the possibility of recruiting technical advice that judicial review can be had of the such decision should not be disturbed if supported by substantial evidence, but review is justified when
legally cogent standards and processes that were used. there has been a denial of due process, or mistake of law or fraud, collusion or arbitrary action in the
administrative proceeding. . . where the procedure which led to factual findings is irregular; when
Same; Same; View that a Petition for a Writ of Kalikasan filed directly with this court raising palpable errors are committed; or when a grave abuse of discretion, arbitrariness, or capriciousness is
issues relating to the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) or compliance with the Environmental manifest.
Impact Assessment Process (EIAP) denies the parties the benefit of a fuller technical and scientific review
of the premises and conditions imposed on a proposed project.—A Petition for a Writ of Kalikasan filed Environmental Impact Statement; View that an environmental impact statement is a
directly with this court raising issues relating to the Environmental Compliance Certificate or comprehensive assessment of the possible environmental effects of a project.—An environmental impact
compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Process denies the parties the benefit of a fuller statement is a comprehensive assessment of the possible environmental effects of a project. The study
technical and scientific review of the premises and conditions imposed on a proposed project. If given due and its conclusions are based on project’s components, features, and design. Design changes may alter
course, this remedy prematurely compels the court to exercise its power to review the standards used conclusions. It may also have an effect on the cumulative impact of the project as a whole. Design
without exhausting all the administrative forums that will allow the parties to bring forward their best changes may also have an effect on the results of an environmental impact assessment. For these
science. Rather than finding the cogent and reasonable balance to protect our ecologies, courts will only reasons, the amended ECCs issued without a corresponding environmental impact statement is void. A
rely on our own best guess of cause and effect. We substitute our judgment for the science of new ECC should be issued based on an environmental impact statement that covers the new design
environmental protection prematurely. proposed by RP Energy.

Same; Same; View that on December 14, 1981, the President of the Philippines issued Remedial Law; Writ of Kalikasan; View that a Writ of Kalikasan is not the proper remedy to
Proclamation No. 2146 declaring fossil-fueled power plants as environmentally-critical projects. This question the irregularities in the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).—A Writ
placed fossil-fueled power plants among the projects that require an environmental impact statement prior of Kalikasan is not the proper remedy to question the irregularities in the issuance of an ECC. Casiño, et
to the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).—Based on the required al. should have first exhausted administrative remedies in the Department of Environment and Natural
environmental impact statement under Presidential Decree No. 1151, Presidential Decree No. 1586 was Resources and the Office of the President before it could file a Petition for certiorari with our courts.
promulgated establishing the Environmental Impact Statement System. Under this system, the Essentially, it could not have been an issue ripe for litigation in a remanded Petition for Issuance of a
President may proclaim certain projects as environmentally critical. An environmentally critical project Writ of Kalikasan. Thus, the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in acting on the
is a “project or program that has high potential for significant negative environmental impact.” Proposals nullification of the ECC. More so, it is improper for us to make any declaration on the validity of the
for environmentally critical projects require an environmental impact statement. On December 14, 1981, amended ECCs in this action.
the President of the Philippines issued Proclamation No. 2146 declaring fossil-fueled power plants as
environmentally-critical projects. This placed fossil-fueled power plants among the projects that require Local Government Units; View that although Section 26 of the Local Government Code (LGC)
an environmental impact statement prior to the issuance of an ECC. requires “prior consultation” with local government units (LGUs), organizations, and sectors, it does not
state that such consultation is a requisite for the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate
Environmental Compliance Certificate; View that the issuance of an Environmental Compliance (ECC).—Local government consent under Sections 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code is not a
Certificate (ECC) without a corresponding environmental impact statement is not valid.—The issuance of requisite for the issuance of an ECC. The issuance of an ECC and the consent requirement under the
an ECC without a corresponding environmental impact statement is not valid. Section 4 of Presidential Local Government Code involve different considerations. The Department of Environment and Natural
Decree No. 1151 specifically requires the filing of environmental impact statements for every action that Resources issues an ECC in accordance with Presidential Decree Nos. 1151 and 1586. It is issued after a
significantly affects environmental quality. Presidential Decree No. 1586, the law being implemented by proposed project’s projected environmental impact is sufficiently assessed and found to be in accordance
the IRR, recognizes and is enacted based on this requirement. Presidential Decree Nos. 1151 and 1586 do with the applicable environmental standards. A Department of Environment and Natural Resources’
not authorize the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to allow exemptions to this valid finding that the project complies with environmental standards under the law may result in the
requirement in the guise of amended project specifications. The only exception to the environmental issuance of the ECC. In other words, an ECC is issued solely for environmental considerations. Although
impact statement requirement is when the project is not declared as environmentally critical, as provided Section 26 of the Local Government Code requires “prior consultation” with local government units,
later in Presidential Decree No. 1586. organizations, and sectors, it does not state that such consultation is a requisite for the issuance of an
ECC. Section 27 of the Local Government Code provides instead that consultation, together with the
Environmental Impact Statement; View that an environmental impact statement is a document of consent of the local government is a requisite for the implementation of the project. This shows that the
scientific opinion that serves as an application for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).—An issuance of the ECC is independent from the consultation and consent requirements under the Local
environmental impact statement is a document of scientific opinion “that serves as an application for an Government Code.
ECC. It is a comprehensive study of the significant impacts of a project on the environment.” It is
predictive to an acceptable degree of certainty. It is an assurance that the proponent has understood all Same; View that aside from the law or ordinance creating them, a local government unit (LGU)
of the environmental impacts and that the measures it proposed to mitigate are both effective and cannot be created without the “approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units
efficient. directly affected.”—It is our basic policy to ensure the local autonomy of our local government units.
Under the Constitution, these local government units include only provinces, cities,
Same; View that to interpret the rules in a manner that would give the Department of Environment municipalities, barangays, and the autonomous regions of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.
and Natural Resources (DENR) the discretion whether to require or not to require an environmental Provinces, cities, municipalities, and political subdivisions are created by law based on indicators such as
impact statement renders the rules void.—To interpret the rules in a manner that would give the income, population, and land area. Barangays are created through ordinances. Aside from the law or
Department of Environment and Natural Resources the discretion whether to require or not to require an ordinance creating them, a local government unit cannot be created without the “approval by a majority
environmental impact statement renders the rules void. As an administrative agency, the Department of of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.”
Environment and Natural Resources’ power to promulgate rules is limited by the provisions of the law it Same; Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; View that Section 14 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7227
implements. It has no power to modify the law, or reduce or expand its provisions. The provisions of the cannot be interpreted so as to grant the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) the prerogative to
law prevail if there is inconsistency between the law and the rules promulgated by the administrative supplant the powers of the local government units (LGUs).—Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7227 cannot be
agency. interpreted so as to grant the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority the prerogative to supplant the powers of
the local government units. Local autonomy ensures that local government units can fully develop as self-
reliant communities. The evolution of their capabilities to respond to the needs of their communities is
constitutionally guaranteed. In its implementation and as a statutory policy, national agencies must
consult the local government units regarding projects or programs to be implemented in their
jurisdictions.

Environmental Impact Assessments; Environmental Impact Statements; View that before an


environmentally critical project can be implemented or prior to an activity in an environmentally critical
area, the law requires that the proponents undergo environmental impact assessments and produce
environmental impact statements.—The state’s duty to “protect and advance the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature” can be accomplished in
many ways. Before an environmentally critical project can be implemented or prior to an activity in an
environmentally critical area, the law requires that the proponents undergo environmental impact
assessments and produce environmental impact statements. On this basis, the proponents must secure
an ECC which may outline the conditions under which the activity or project with ecological impact can
be undertaken. Prior to a national government project, local government units, representing communities
affected, can weigh in and ensure that the proponents take into consideration all local concerns including
mitigating and remedial measures for any future ecological damage. Should a project be ongoing, our
legal order is not lacking in causes of actions that could result in preventive injunctions or damages
arising from all sorts of environmental torts.

Remedial Law; Writ of Kalikasan; View that the Writ of Kalikasan is a highly prerogative writ that
issues only when there is a showing of actual or imminent threat and when there is such inaction on the
part of the relevant administrative bodies that will make an environmental catastrophe inevitable.—The
function of the extraordinary and equitable remedy of a Writ of Kalikasanshould not supplant other
available remedies and the nature of the forums that they provide. The Writ of Kalikasan is a highly
prerogative writ that issues only when there is a showing of actual or imminent threat and when there is
such inaction on the part of the relevant administrative bodies that will make an environmental
catastrophe inevitable. It is not a remedy that is availing when there is no actual threat or when
imminence of danger is not demonstrable. The Writ of Kalikasan thus is not an excuse to invoke judicial
remedies when there still remain administrative forums to properly address the common concern to
protect and advance ecological rights. After all, we cannot presume that only the Supreme Court can
conscientiously fulfill the ecological duties required of the entire state.
PETITIONS for review on certiorari of the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Leland R. Villadolid, Jr., Arnold M. Corporal and Lancaster L. Uy for petitioner Redondo Peninsula
Energy, Inc.
James Mark Terry L. Ridon for Hon. Teodoro A. Casiño, et al.
DEL CASTILLO, J.:

G.R. No. 206510. September 16, 2014.*

MOST REV. PEDRO D. ARIGO, D.D., Vicar Apostolic of Puerto Princesa, MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S.
IÑIGUEZ, JR., Bishop-Emeritus of Caloocan, FRANCES Q. QUIMPO, CLEMENTE G. BAUTISTA, JR.,
Kalikasan-PNE, MARIA CAROLINA P. ARAULLO, RENATO M. REYES, JR., Bagong Alyansang
Makabayan, HON. NERI JAVIER COLMENARES, Bayan Muna Party-list, ROLAND G. SIMBULAN, accessible to the present as well as future generations. Needless to say, every generation
PH.D., Junk VFA Movement, TERESITA R. PEREZ, PH.D., HON. RAYMOND V. PALATINO, Kabataan has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment
Party-list, PETER SJ. GONZALES, Pamalakaya, GIOVANNI A. TAPANG, PH.D., Agham, ELMER C.
of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors’ assertion of their
LABOG, Kilusang Mayo Uno, JOAN MAY E. SALVADOR, Gabriela, JOSE ENRIQUE A. AFRICA,
THERESA A. CONCEPCION, MARY JOAN A. GUAN, NESTOR T. BAGUINON, PH.D., A. EDSEL F.
right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their
TUPAZ, petitioners, vs. SCOTT H. SWIFT, in his capacity as Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, MARK A. obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come.
RICE, in his capacity as Commanding Officer of the USS Guardian, PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO
III, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, HON. ALBERT F. Constitutional Law; State Immunity from Suit; This traditional rule of State
DEL ROSARIO, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs, HON. PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., Executive immunity which exempts a State from being sued in the courts of another State without the
Secretary, Office of the President, HON. VOLTAIRE T. GAZMIN, Secretary, Department of National former’s consent or waiver has evolved into a restrictive doctrine which distinguishes
Defense, HON. RAMON JESUS P. PAJE, Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, sovereign and governmental acts (jure imperii) from private, commercial and proprietary
VICE ADMIRAL JOSE LUIS M. ALANO, Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command, Armed Forces of
the Philippines, ADMIRAL RODOLFO D. ISORENA, Commandant, Philippine Coast Guard,
acts (jure gestionis).—This traditional rule of State immunity which exempts a State from
COMMODORE ENRICO EFREN EVANGELISTA, Philippine Coast Guard-Palawan, MAJOR GEN. being sued in the courts of another State without the former’s consent or waiver has evolved
VIRGILIO O. DOMINGO, Commandant of Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and LT. GEN. into a restrictive doctrine which distinguishes sovereign and governmental acts (jure
TERRY G. ROBLING, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and Balikatan 2013 Exercise Co-Director, imperii) from private, commercial and proprietary acts (jure gestionis). Under the restrictive
respondents. rule of State immunity, State immunity extends only to acts jure imperii. The restrictive
application of State immunity is proper only when the proceedings arise out of commercial
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Locus Standi; Words and Phrases; Locus standi is “a transactions of the foreign sovereign, its commercial activities or economic affairs.
right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.”—Locus standi is “a right of
appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” Specifically, it is “a party’s personal Same; International Law; International Law of the Sea; Words and Phrases; The
and substantial interest in a case where he has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a international law of the sea is generally defined as “a body of treaty rules and customary
result” of the act being challenged, and “calls for more than just a generalized grievance.” norms governing the uses of the sea, the exploitation of its resources, and the exercise of
However, the rule on standing is a procedural matter which this Court has relaxed for jurisdiction over maritime regimes.—The international law of the sea is generally defined as
nontraditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers and legislators when the public “a body of treaty rules and customary norms governing the uses of the sea, the exploitation
interest so requires, such as when the subject matter of the controversy is of transcendental of its resources, and the exercise of jurisdiction over maritime regimes. It is a branch of
importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest. public international law, regulating the relations of states with respect to the uses of the
oceans.” The UNCLOS is a multilateral treaty which was opened for signature on December
Constitutional Law; Balance and Healthful Ecology; In the landmark case of Oposa v. 10, 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was ratified by the Philippines in 1984 but came into
Factoran, Jr., 224 SCRA 792 (1993),the Supreme Court (SC) recognized the “public right” of force on November 16, 1994 upon the submission of the 60th ratification.
citizens to “a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our constitutional
history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law.”—In the landmark case of Oposa Same; Same; Same; United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; The United
v. Factoran, Jr., 224 SCRA 792 (1993), we recognized the “public right” of citizens to “a Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) gives to the coastal State sovereign
balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our constitutional history, is rights in varying degrees over the different zones of the sea which are: 1) internal waters, 2)
solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law.” We declared that the right to a balanced territorial sea, 3) contiguous zone, 4) exclusive economic zone, and 5) the high seas. It also
and healthful ecology need not be written in the Constitution for it is assumed, like other gives coastal States more or less jurisdiction over foreign vessels depending on where the
civil and political rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist from the inception of vessel is located.—The UNCLOS is a product of international negotiation that seeks to
mankind and it is an issue of transcendental importance with intergenerational balance State sovereignty (mare clausum) and the principle of freedom of the high seas
implications. Such right carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the (mare liberum). The freedom to use the world’s marine waters is one of the oldest customary
environment. principles of international law. The UNCLOS gives to the coastal State sovereign rights in
varying degrees over the different zones of the sea which are: 1) internal waters, 2)
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Class Suit; On the novel element in the class suit filed territorial sea, 3) contiguous zone, 4) exclusive economic zone, and 5) the high seas. It also
by the petitioners minors in Oposa, this Court ruled that not only do ordinary citizens have gives coastal States more or less jurisdiction over foreign vessels depending on where the
legal standing to sue for the enforcement of environmental rights, they can do so in vessel is located.
representation of their own and future generations.—On the novel element in the class suit
filed by the petitioners minors in Oposa, this Court ruled that not only do ordinary citizens Same; Same; State Immunity from Suit; Visiting Forces Agreement; Writ of
have legal standing to sue for the enforcement of environmental rights, they can do so in Kalikasan; The waiver of State immunity under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)
representation of their own and future generations. Thus: Petitioners minors assert that pertains only to criminal jurisdiction and not to special civil actions such as the present
they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in petition for issuance of a writ of Kalikasan.—The VFA is an agreement which defines the
ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding treatment of United States troops and personnel visiting the Philippines to promote
generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding “common security interests” between the US and the Philippines in the region. It provides
generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility for the guidelines to govern such visits of military personnel, and further defines the rights
insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, of the United States and the Philippine government in the matter of criminal jurisdiction,
as hereinafter expounded, considers the “rhythm and harmony of nature.” Nature means movement of vessel and aircraft, importation and exportation of equipment, materials and
the created world in its entirety. Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter supplies. The invocation of US federal tort laws and even common law is thus improper
alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the considering that it is the VFA which governs disputes involving US military ships and crew
country’s forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural navigating Philippine waters in pursuance of the objectives of the agreement. As it is, the
resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably waiver of State immunity under the VFA pertains only to criminal jurisdiction and not to
special civil actions such as the present petition for issuance of a writ of Kalikasan. In fact, Same; Same; State Immunity from Suit; View that under the regime of international law, there is
it can be inferred from Section 17, Rule 7 of the Rules that a criminal case against a person an added dimension to sovereign immunity exceptions: the tort exception.—Under the regime of
international law, there is an added dimension to sovereign immunity exceptions: the tort exception.
charged with a violation of an environmental law is to be filed separately: SEC.
Whether this has evolved into a customary norm is still debatable; what is important to emphasize is
17. Institution of separate actions.—The filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ that while some states have enacted legislation to allow the piercing of sovereign immunity in tortuous
of kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative actions, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 of the United States (FSIA) contains such
actions. privilege. Specifically, the FSIA contains exceptions for (1) waiver; (2) commercial activity; (3)
expropriation; (4) property rights acquired through succession or donation; (5) damages for personal
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A ruling on the application or non-application of injury or death or damage to or loss of property; (6) enforcement of an arbitration agreement; (7) torture,
criminal jurisdiction provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to US personnel who extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking, or the provision of material support to such an act,
may be found responsible for the grounding of the USS Guardian, would be premature and if the state sponsors terrorism; and (8) maritime lien in a suit for admiralty based on commercial activity.
beyond the province of a petition for a writ of Kalikasan.—In any case, it is our considered Same; Same; Same; View that immunity, unlike in other jurisdictions, is determined not by the
view that a ruling on the application or non-application of criminal jurisdiction provisions of courts of law but by the executive branches.—In Vinuya v. Romulo, 619 SCRA 533 (2010), we stated that
the VFA to US personnel who may be found responsible for the grounding of the USS “the question whether the Philippine government should espouse claims of its nationals against a foreign
Guardian, would be premature and beyond the province of a petition for a writ of Kalikasan. government is a foreign relations matter, the authority for which is demonstrably committed by our
We also find it unnecessary at this point to determine whether such waiver of State Constitution not to the courts but to the political branches.” Immunity then, unlike in other jurisdictions,
immunity is indeed absolute. In the same vein, we cannot grant damages which have is determined not by the courts of law but by the executive branches.
resulted from the violation of environmental laws. The Rules allows the recovery of
Same; Same; Same; View that the basic concept of state immunity is that no state may be subjected
damages, including the collection of administrative fines under R.A. No. 10067, in a to the jurisdiction of another state without its consent.—The basic concept of state immunity is that no
separate civil suit or that deemed instituted with the criminal action charging the same state may be subjected to the jurisdiction of another state without its consent. According to Professor Ian
violation of an environmental law. Brownlie, it is “a procedural bar (not a substantive defence) based on the status and functions of the state
or official in question.” Furthermore, its applicability depends on the law and procedural rules of the
Same; Same; Foreign Relations; It is settled that “the conduct of the foreign relations forum state.
of our government is committed by the Constitution to the executive and legislative — ‘the
political’ — departments of the government, and the propriety of what may be done in the Same; Same; Same; Writ of Kalikasan; View that should the Court issue the Writ, it could possibly
entail international responsibility for breaching the jurisdictional immunity of a sovereign state.—No
exercise of this political power is not subject to judicial inquiry or decision.”—A exception exists in Philippine or international law that would remove the immunity of the United States
rehabilitation or restoration program to be implemented at the cost of the violator is also a in order to place it under the jurisdiction of Philippine courts. The Writ of Kalikasan is a compulsory
major relief that may be obtained under a judgment rendered in a citizens’ suit under writ, and its issuance initiates a legal process that would circumvent the internationally established
the Rules, viz.: RULE 5 SECTION 1. Reliefs in a citizen suit.—If warranted, the court may rules of immunity. Should the Court issue the Writ, it could possibly entail international responsibility
grant to the plaintiff proper reliefs which shall include the protection, preservation or for breaching the jurisdictional immunity of a sovereign state.
rehabilitation of the environment and the payment of attorney’s fees, costs of suit and other
LEONEN, J., Concurring Opinion:
litigation expenses. It may also require the violator to submit a program of rehabilitation or
Writ of Kalikasan; View that the writ of kalikasan is not an all-embracing legal remedy to be
restoration of the environment, the costs of which shall be borne by the violator, or to wielded like a political tool.—The writ of kalikasan is not an all-embracing legal remedy to be wielded
contribute to a special trust fund for that purpose subject to the control of the court. In the like a political tool. It is both an extraordinary and equitable remedy which assists to prevent
light of the foregoing, the Court defers to the Executive Branch on the matter of environmental catastrophes. It does not replace other legal remedies similarly motivated by concern for
compensation and rehabilitation measures through diplomatic channels. Resolution of these the environment and the community’s ecological welfare. Certainly, when the petition itself alleges that
issues impinges on our relations with another State in the context of common security remedial and preventive remedies have occurred, the functions of the writ cease to exist. In case of
interests under the VFA. It is settled that “[t]he conduct of the foreign relations of our disagreement, parties need to exhaust the political and administrative arena. Only when a concrete cause
of action arises out of facts that can be proven with substantial evidence may the proper legal action be
government is committed by the Constitution to the executive and legislative — ‘the
entertained.
political’ — departments of the government, and the propriety of what may be done in the
exercise of this political power is not subject to judicial inquiry or decision.” Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Class Suits; Citizen’s Suits; View Citizen’s suits are procedural
devices that allow a genuine cause of action to be judicially considered in spite of the social costs or
SERENO, CJ., Concurring Opinion: negative externalities of such initiatives. This should be clearly distinguished in our rules and in
Constitutional Law; International Law; Visiting Forces Agreement; Treaties; View that acts done jurisprudence from class suits that purport to represent the whole population and unborn generations.—
pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) take the nature of governmental acts, since both the Citizen’s suits are suits brought by parties suffering direct and substantial injuries; although in the
United States and Philippine governments recognize the VFA as a treaty with corresponding obligations, environmental field, these injuries may be shared with others. It is different from class suits brought as
and the presence of these two Naval Officers and the warship in Philippine waters fell under this legal representative suits under Oposa v. Factoran, 224 SCRA 792 (1993). In my view, there is need to review
regime.—In this case, the two Naval Officers were acting pursuant to their function as the commanding this doctrine insofar as it allows a nonrepresentative group to universally represent a whole population
officers of a warship, traversing Philippine waters under the authority of the Visiting Forces Agreement as well as an unborn generation binding them to causes of actions, arguments, and reliefs which they did
(VFA). While the events beg the question of what the warship was doing in that area, when it should not choose. Generations yet unborn suffer from the legal inability to assert against false or unwanted
have been headed towards Indonesia, its presence in Philippine waters is not wholly unexplainable. The representation. Citizen’s suits are procedural devices that allow a genuine cause of action to be judicially
VFA is a treaty, and it has been affirmed as valid by this Court inBayan v. Zamora, 342 SCRA 449 considered in spite of the social costs or negative externalities of such initiatives. This should be clearly
(2000), and affirmed in Lim v. Executive Secretary, 380 SCRA 739 (2002), and Nicolas v. Romulo, 578 distinguished in our rules and in jurisprudence from class suits that purport to represent the whole
SCRA 438 (2009). It has, in the past, been used to justify the presence of United States Armed Forces in population and unborn generations. The former is in keeping with the required constitutional protection
the Philippines. In this respect therefore, acts done pursuant to the VFA take the nature of governmental for our people. The latter is dangerous and should be used only in very extraordinary or rare situations.
acts, since both the United States and Philippine governments recognize the VFA as a treaty with It may be jurisprudentially inappropriate.
corresponding obligations, and the presence of these two Naval Officers and the warship in Philippine
waters fell under this legal regime. Constitutional Law; International Law; State Immunity from Suit; View that the doctrine of
sovereign immunity is understood as a basic right extended to states by other states on the basis of respect
for sovereignty and independence.—The doctrine of sovereign immunity evolves out of the theory and rights. It is not sufficient to draw out a perceived interest from a general, nebulous idea of a potential
practice of sovereignty and the principle par in parem non habet jurisdictionem. Its particular contours as “injury.”
an international norm have evolved far beyond the form it took when the theory of absolute sovereignty
was current. Contemporarily, it is understood as a basic right extended to states by other states on the Same; Same; Same; Environmental Cases; View that since environmental cases necessarily involve
basis of respect for sovereignty and independence. There appears to be a consensus among states that the balancing of different types and degrees of interests, allowing anyone from the present generation to
sovereign immunity as a concept is legally binding. However, there remains to be a lack of international represent others who are yet unborn poses three (3) possible dangers.—“Minors and generations yet
agreement as to how it is to be invoked and the extent of immunity in some cases. unborn” is a category of real party in interest that was first established in Oposa v. Factoran, 224 SCRA
792 (1993). In Oposa v. Factoran, this court ruled that the representatives derived their personality to
Same; Same; Same; View that this doctrine of relative jurisdictional immunity (sovereign file a suit on behalf of succeeding generations from “intergenerational responsibility.” The case mirrored
immunity) of states and their agents becomes binding in our jurisdiction as international law through jurisprudence the general moral duty of the present generation to ensure the full enjoyment of a
only through Section 2 of Article II or Section 21 of Article VII of the Constitution.—This doctrine of balanced and healthful ecology by the succeeding generations. Since environmental cases necessarily
relative jurisdictional immunity (sovereign immunity) of states and their agents becomes binding in our involve the balancing of different types and degrees of interests, allowing anyone from the present
jurisdiction as international law only through Section 2 of Article II or Section 21 of Article VII of the generation to represent others who are yet unborn poses three possible dangers. First, they run the risk
Constitution. Article XVII, Section 3 of the Constitution is a limitation on suits against our state. It is not of foreclosing arguments of others who are unable to take part in the suit, putting into question its
the textual anchor for determining the extent of jurisdictional immunities that should be accorded to representativeness. Second, varying interests may potentially result in arguments that are bordering on
other states or their agents. International law may have evolved further than the usual distinction political issues, the resolutions of which do not fall upon this court. Third, automatically allowing a class
between acta jure imperii and acta jure gestionis. Indications of state practice even of public respondents or citizen’s suit on behalf of “minors and generations yet unborn” may result in the oversimplification of
show that jurisdictional immunity for foreign states may not apply to certain violations of jus what may be a complex issue, especially in light of the impossibility of determining future generation’s
cogens rules of international customary law. There can be tort exemptions provided by statute and, true interests on the matter.
therefore, the state practice of an agent’s sovereign being sued in our courts.
Same; Same; Res Judicata; View that the doctrine of res judicata bars parties to litigate an issue
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Jurisdiction; Environmental Cases; View that the “environmental” more than once, and this is strictly applied because “the maintenance of public order, the repose of society .
nature of this petition, based upon the alleged violation of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act, by itself . . require that what has been definitely determined by competent tribunals shall be accepted as
does not and should not automatically render the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases applicable; irrefragable legal truth.”—Res judicata renders conclusive between the parties and their privies a ruling
This means that even in environmental cases, Rule 3, Sections 2, 3, or 12 of the 1997 Rules of Civil on their rights, not just for the present action, but in all subsequent suits. This pertains to all points and
Procedure should still also apply.—The “environmental” nature of this petition, based upon the alleged matters judicially tried by a competent court. The doctrine bars parties to litigate an issue more than
violation of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act, by itself does not and should not automatically render once, and this is strictly applied because “the maintenance of public order, the repose of society . . .
the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases applicable. At best, it must be reconciled with rules on require that what has been definitely determined by competent tribunals shall be accepted as
parties as contained in the Rules of Court. This is to preclude a situation where the interpretation of the irrefragable legal truth.”
Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases results in a ruling inconsistent or contrary to established
legal concepts. It is my position that unless the remedy sought will serve the purpose of preventing an Same; Same; Same; View that considering the effect of res judicata, the ruling in Oposa v.
environmental catastrophe, the traditional procedural route should be taken. This means that even in Factoran has opened a dangerous practice of binding parties who are yet incapable of making choices for
environmental cases, Rule 3, Sections 2, 3, or 12 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure should still also themselves, either due to minority or the sheer fact that they do not yet exist.—Considering the effect of res
apply. judicata, the ruling in Oposa v. Factoran has opened a dangerous practice of binding parties who are yet
incapable of making choices for themselves, either due to minority or the sheer fact that they do not yet
Same; Same; Real Party-in-Interest; View that a real party-in-interest is a litigant whose right or exist. Once res judicata sets in, the impleaded minors and generations yet unborn will be unable to bring
interest stands to benefit or get injured by the judgment of the case.—A real party-in-interest is a litigant a suit to relitigate their interest.
whose right or interest stands to benefit or get injured by the judgment of the case. The interest referred
to must be material interest, founded upon a legal right sought to be enforced. They bring a suit because Same; Same; Class Suits; View that in a class suit, petitioners necessarily bring the suit in two
the act or omission of another has caused them to directly suffer its consequences. Simply put, a real capacities: first, as persons directly injured by the act or omission complained of; and second, as
party-in-interest has a cause of action based upon an existing legal right-duty correlative. representatives of an entire class who have suffered the same injury.—In a class suit, petitioners
necessarily bring the suit in two capacities: first, as persons directly injured by the act or omission
Same; Same; Representatives; Environmental Cases; View that in environmental cases, Section 3 of complained of; and second, as representatives of an entire class who have suffered the same injury. In
Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure may be used to bring a suit, provided that two (2) elements order to fully protect all those concerned, petitioners must show that they belong in the same universe as
concur: a) the suit is brought on behalf of an identified party whose right has been violated, resulting in those they seek to represent. More importantly, they must establish that, in that universe, they can
some form of damage, and b) the representative authorized by law or the Rules of Court to represent the intervene on behalf of the rest.
victim.—A “representative” is not the party who will actually benefit or suffer from the judgment of the
case. The rule requires that the beneficiary be identified as he or she is deemed the real party-in-interest. Same; Same; Same; Environmental Cases; View that not all environmental cases need to be
This means that acting in a representative capacity does not turn into a real party-in-interest someone brought as class suits.—Not all environmental cases need to be brought as class suits. There is no
who is otherwise an outsider to the cause of action. This rule enumerates who may act as representatives, procedural requirement that majority of those affected must file a suit in order that an injunctive writ or
including those acting in a fiduciary capacity. While not an exhaustive list, it does set a limit by allowing a writ of kalikasan can be issued. It is sufficient that the party has suffered its own direct and
only those who are “authorized by law or these Rules.” In environmental cases, this section may be used substantial interest, its legal basis is cogent, and it has the capability to move forward to present the
to bring a suit, provided that two elements concur: a) the suit is brought on behalf of an identified party facts and, if necessary, the scientific basis for its analysis for some of these cases to be given due course.
whose right has been violated, resulting in some form of damage, and b) the representative authorized by
law or the Rules of Court to represent the victim. Same; Same; Same; Same; Wvil prorit of Kalikasan; View that the writ of kalikasan is a remedy
that covers environmental damages the magnitude of which transcends both political and territorial
Same; Same; Citizen’s Suits; View that a citizen’s suit that seeks to enforce environmental rights boundaries.—The writ of kalikasan is a remedy that covers environmental damages the magnitude of
and obligations may be brought by any Filipino who is acting as a representative of others, including which transcends both political and territorial boundaries. It specifically provides that the prejudice to
minors or generations yet unborn.—A citizen’s suit that seeks to enforce environmental rights and life, health, or property caused by an unlawful act or omission of a public official, public employee, or a
obligations may be brought by any Filipino who is acting as a representative of others, including minors private individual or entity must be felt in at least two cities or provinces. The petition for its issuance
or generations yet unborn. As representatives, it is not necessary for petitioners to establish that they may be filed on behalf of those whose right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, provided that
directly suffered from the grounding of the USS Guardian and the subsequent salvage operations. the group or organization which seeks to represent is duly accredited.
However, it is imperative for them to indicate with certainty the injured parties on whose behalf they
bring the suit. Furthermore, the interest of those they represent must be based upon concrete legal
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Temporary Environmental Protection Order; View that a provisions and execute their obligations under the VFA. This includes respecting jurisdictional issues in
Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) is an order which either directs or enjoins a person or cases involving an offense committed by a US military personnel.
government agency to perform or refrain from a certain act, for the purpose of protecting, preserving,
and/or rehabilitating the environment.—A TEPO is an order which either directs or enjoins a person or Same; Same; State Immunity from Suit; There appears to be a general recognition that foreign
government agency to perform or refrain from a certain act, for the purpose of protecting, preserving, states are to be afforded immunity on account of equality of states, but the “practice” lacks uniformity.—
and/or rehabilitating the environment. The crucial elements in its issuance are the presence of “extreme There appears to be a general recognition that foreign states are to be afforded immunity on account of
urgency” and “grave injustice and irreparable injury” to the applicant. Petitioners hinge the basis for this equality of states, but the “practice” lacks uniformity. Finke points out that the doctrine as exercised by
prayer on the salvage operations conducted immediately after the incident. The remedy is no longer different states suffers from “substantial disagreement on detail and substance.” The inconsistencies in
available considering that all activities to remove the grounded USS Guardian have been concluded. state practice render the possibility of invoking international comity even more problematic.
Furthermore, the Notice to Mariners No. 011-2013 issued by the Philippine Coast Guard on January 29,
2013 effectively set the metes and bounds of the damaged area. This notice also prohibited “leisure trips Same; Same; Same; View that the International Court of Justice’s position that sovereign
to Tubbataha” and advised “all watercrafts transitting the vicinity to take precautionary measures.” immunity remains applicable even if the action is based upon violations of international law should be
limited only to acts during armed conflict.—In sum, the International Court of Justice’s position that
Constitutional Law; International Law; State Immunity from Suit; View that immunity does not sovereign immunity remains applicable even if the action is based upon violations of international law
necessarily apply to all the foreign respondents should the case have been brought in a timely manner, should be limited only to acts during armed conflict. Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v.
with the proper remedy, and in the proper court.—It is my position that doctrine on relative jurisdictional Italy)also referred to actions commited during World War II and especially referred to the situation of
immunity of foreign states or otherwise referred to as sovereign immunity should be further refined. I international law at that time. The majority reflected the attitude that sovereign immunity is a
am of the view that immunity does not necessarily apply to all the foreign respondents should customary norm. It, however, recognizes that uniformity in state practice is far from the consensus
the case have been brought in a timely manner, with the proper remedy, and in the proper required to articulate specific rules pertaining to other circumstances — such as transgressions of foreign
court. Those who have directly and actually committed culpable acts or acts resulting from warships of domestic legislation while granted innocent passage. It impliedly accepted that states
gross negligence resulting in the grounding of a foreign warship in violation of our laws enjoyed wide latitude to specify their own norms.
defining a tortious act or one that protects the environment which implement binding
international obligations cannot claim sovereign immunity. Some clarification may be necessary Same; Same; Same; View that as a principle of international law, the doctrine of sovereign
to map the contours of relative jurisdictional immunity of foreign states otherwise known as the doctrine immunity is deemed automatically incorporated in our domestic legal system as per Article II, Section 2 of
of sovereign immunity. The doctrine of sovereign immunity can be understood either as a domestic or an the Constitution.—Sovereign immunity is a doctrine recognized by states under the international law
international concept. system. However, its characterization as a principle is more appropriate in that “the extent to which
foreign states are awarded immunity differs from state to state.” This appears to be an accepted
Same; Same; Same; View that there appears to be a consensus among states that sovereign arrangement in light of the different state immunity laws all over the world. As it stands, states are
immunity as a concept is legally binding.—Under international law, sovereign immunity remains to be allowed to draw the line in the application of sovereign immunity in cases involving foreign states and
an abstract concept. On a basic level, it is understood as a basic right extended to states by other states their agents. As a principle of international law, it is deemed automatically incorporated in our domestic
on the basis of respect for sovereignty and independence. There appears to be a consensus among states legal system as per Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. Considering this leeway, along with the
that sovereign immunity as a concept is legally binding. Nevertheless, legal scholars observe that there urgency and importance of the case at hand, the Philippines is, therefore, free to provide guidelines
remains to be a lack of agreement as to how it is to be invoked or exercised in actual cases. Finke consistent with international law, domestic legislation, and existing jurisprudence.
presents: States accept sovereign immunity as a legally binding concept, but only on a very abstract
level. They agree on the general idea of immunity, but disagree on the extent to which they Same; Same; Same; View that tortious acts or crimes committed while discharging official
actually must grant immunity in a specific case. functions are also not covered by sovereign immunity.—Shauf v. Court of Appeals, 191 SCRA 713 (1990),
evolved the doctrine further as it stated that “[the] rational for this ruling is that the doctrine of state
Same; Same; Same; European Convention on State Immunity; Words and Phrases; View that in immunity cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice.” Tortious acts or crimes
the Council of Europe’s explanatory report, sovereign immunity is defined as “a concept of international committed while discharging official functions are also not covered by sovereign immunity. Quoting the
law, which has developed out of the principle par in parem non habet imperium, by virtue of which one ruling in Chavez v. Sandiganbayan, 193 SCRA 282 (1991), this court held American naval officers
State is not subject to the jurisdiction of another State.”—The European Convention on State Immunity is personally liable for damages in Wylie v. Rarang, 209 SCRA 357 (1992), to wit:. . . The petitioners,
a treaty established through the Council of Europe on May 16, 1972. In the Council of Europe’s however, were negligent because under their direction they issued the publication without deleting the
explanatory report, sovereign immunity is defined as “a concept of international law, which has name “Auring.” Such act or omission is ultra vires and cannot be part of official duty. It was a tortious act
developed out of the principle par in parem non habet imperium, by virtue of which one State is not which ridiculed the private respondent.
subject to the jurisdiction of another State.” The treaty arose out of the need to address cases where
states become involved in areas of private law: For many years State immunity has occupied the Same; Same; Same; View that the Philippines has no law on the application of sovereign immunity
attention of eminent jurists. It is also the object of abundant case law. The development of in cases of damages and/or violations of domestic law involving agents of a foreign state.—As it stands,
international relations and the increasing intervention of States in spheres belonging to the Philippines has no law on the application of sovereign immunity in cases of damages and/or violations
private law have posed the problem still more acutely by increasing the number of disputes of domestic law involving agents of a foreign state. But our jurisprudence does have openings to hold
opposing individuals and foreign States. There are, at present, two theories, that of absolute State those who have committed an act ultra vires responsible in our domestic courts.
immunity which is the logical consequence of the principle stated above and that of relative State
immunity which is tending to predominate on account of the requirement of modern Same; Same; Same; View that immunity does not necessarily apply to all the foreign respondents
conditions. According to this latter theory, the State enjoys immunity for acts jure imperii but should the case have been brought in a timely manner, with the proper remedy, and in the proper court.—
not for acts jure gestionis, that is to say when it acts in the same way as a private person in Considering the flexibility in international law and the doctrines that we have evolved so far, I am of the
relations governed by private law. This divergence of opinion causes difficulties in international view that immunity does not necessarily apply to all the foreign respondents should the case
relations. States whose courts and administrative authorities apply the theory of absolute State have been brought in a timely manner, with the proper remedy, and in the proper court. Those
immunity are led to call for the same treatment abroad. who have directly and actually committed culpable acts or acts resulting from gross negligence
resulting in the grounding of a foreign warship in violation of our laws defining a tortious act
Same; Same; Visiting Forces Agreement; View that the extent of the Visiting Forces Agreement’s or one that protects the environment which implement binding international obligations
(VFA’s) categorization as between the Philippine and United States government — either as a “treaty”/ cannot claim sovereign immunity.
“executive agreement” or as a matter subject to international comity — remains vague.—In sum, the extent
of the VFA’s categorization as between the Philippine and United States government — either as a PETITION for issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan.
“treaty”/“executive agreement” or as a matter subject to international comity — remains vague.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Nevertheless, it is certain that the United States have made a political commitment to recognize the
Anthony Edsel Conrad F. Tupaz and National Union of People’s Lawyers for ship ran aground on the northwest side of South Shoal of the Tubbataha Reefs, about 80
petitioners. miles east-southeast of Palawan. No cine was injured in the incident, and there have been
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: no reports of leaking fuel or oil.

Before us is a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan with prayer for the issuance of On January 20, 2013, U.S. 7th Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Scott Swift, expressed
a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) under Rule 7 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC, regret for the incident in a press statement.5 Likewise, US Ambassador to the Philippines
otherwise known as the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (Rules), involving Harry K. Thomas, Jr., in a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on February
violations of environmental laws and regulations in relation to the grounding of the US 4, "reiterated his regrets over the grounding incident and assured Foreign Affairs Secretazy
military ship USS Guardian over the Tubbataha Reefs. Albert F. del Rosario that the United States will provide appropriate compensation for
damage to the reef caused by the ship."6 By March 30, 2013, the US Navy-led salvage team
had finished removing the last piece of the grounded ship from the coral reef.
Factual Background

On April 1 7, 2013, the above-named petitioners on their behalf and in representation of


The name "Tubbataha" came from the Samal (seafaring people of southern Philippines)
their respective sector/organization and others, including minors or generations yet unborn,
language which means "long reef exposed at low tide." Tubbataha is composed of two huge
filed the present petition agairtst Scott H. Swift in his capacity as Commander of the US 7th
coral atolls - the north atoll and the south atoll - and the Jessie Beazley Reef, a smaller coral
Fleet, Mark A. Rice in his capacity as Commanding Officer of the USS Guardian and Lt.
structure about 20 kilometers north of the atolls. The reefs of Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley
Gen. Terry G. Robling, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and Balikatan 2013 Exercises Co-
are considered part of Cagayancillo, a remote island municipality of Palawan.1
Director ("US respondents"); President Benigno S. Aquino III in his capacity as
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), DF A Secretary Albert
In 1988, Tubbataha was declared a National Marine Park by virtue of Proclamation No. 306 F. Del Rosario, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin
issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on August 11, 1988. Located in the middle of Central (Department of National Defense), Secretary Jesus P. Paje (Department of Environment
Sulu Sea, 150 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Tubbataha lies at the heart of and Natural Resources), Vice-Admiral Jose Luis M. Alano (Philippine Navy Flag Officer in
the Coral Triangle, the global center of marine biodiversity. Command, AFP), Admiral Rodolfo D. Isorena (Philippine Coast Guard Commandant),
Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista (Philippine Coast Guard-Palawan), and Major
In 1993, Tubbataha was inscribed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and General Virgilio 0. Domingo (AFP Commandant), collectively the "Philippine respondents."
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site. It was recognized as one of the
Philippines' oldest ecosystems, containing excellent examples of pristine reefs and a high The Petition
diversity of marine life. The 97,030-hectare protected marine park is also an important
habitat for internationally threatened and endangered marine species. UNESCO cited
Petitioners claim that the grounding, salvaging and post-salvaging operations of the USS
Tubbataha's outstanding universal value as an important and significant natural habitat
Guardian cause and continue to cause environmental damage of such magnitude as to affect
for in situ conservation of biological diversity; an example representing significant on-going
the provinces of Palawan, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros
ecological and biological processes; and an area of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic
Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, which events violate their
importance.2
constitutional rights to a balanced and healthful ecology. They also seek a directive from
this Court for the institution of civil, administrative and criminal suits for acts committed in
On April 6, 2010, Congress passed Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10067, 3 otherwise known as the violation of environmental laws and regulations in connection with the grounding incident.
"Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) Act of 2009" "to ensure the protection and
conservation of the globally significant economic, biological, sociocultural, educational and
Specifically, petitioners cite the following violations committed by US respondents under
scientific values of the Tubbataha Reefs into perpetuity for the enjoyment of present and
R.A. No. 10067: unauthorized entry (Section 19); non-payment of conservation fees (Section
future generations." Under the "no-take" policy, entry into the waters of TRNP is strictly
21 ); obstruction of law enforcement officer (Section 30); damages to the reef (Section 20);
regulated and many human activities are prohibited and penalized or fined, including
and destroying and disturbing resources (Section 26[g]). Furthermore, petitioners assail
fishing, gathering, destroying and disturbing the resources within the TRNP. The law
certain provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which they want this Court to
likewise created the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) which shall be
nullify for being unconstitutional.
the sole policy-making and permit-granting body of the TRNP.

The numerous reliefs sought in this case are set forth in the final prayer of the petition, to
The USS Guardian is an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship of the US Navy. In
wit: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Petitioners respectfully pray that the
December 2012, the US Embassy in the Philippines requested diplomatic clearance for the
Honorable Court: 1. Immediately issue upon the filing of this petition a Temporary
said vessel "to enter and exit the territorial waters of the Philippines and to arrive at the
Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) and/or a Writ of Kalikasan, which shall, in
port of Subic Bay for the purpose of routine ship replenishment, maintenance, and crew
particular,
liberty."4 On January 6, 2013, the ship left Sasebo, Japan for Subic Bay, arriving on
January 13, 2013 after a brief stop for fuel in Okinawa, Japan.1âwphi1
a. Order Respondents and any person acting on their behalf, to cease and desist all operations over
the Guardian grounding incident;
On January 15, 2013, the USS Guardian departed Subic Bay for its next port of call in
Makassar, Indonesia. On January 17, 2013 at 2:20 a.m. while transiting the Sulu Sea, the
b. Initially demarcating the metes and bounds of the damaged area as well as an additional buffer k. Require Respondents to regularly publish on a quarterly basis and in the name of transparency
zone; and accountability such environmental damage assessment, valuation, and valuation methods, in all
stages of negotiation;

c. Order Respondents to stop all port calls and war games under 'Balikatan' because of the absence of
clear guidelines, duties, and liability schemes for breaches of those duties, and require Respondents l. Convene a multisectoral technical working group to provide scientific and technical support to the
to assume responsibility for prior and future environmental damage in general, and environmental TPAMB;
damage under the Visiting Forces Agreement in particular.

m. Order the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, and the Department
d. Temporarily define and describe allowable activities of ecotourism, diving, recreation, and limited of Environment and Natural Resources to review the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual
commercial activities by fisherfolk and indigenous communities near or around the TRNP but away Defense Treaty to consider whether their provisions allow for the exercise of erga omnes rights to a
from the damaged site and an additional buffer zone; balanced and healthful ecology and for damages which follow from any violation of those rights;

2. After summary hearing, issue a Resolution extending the TEPO until further orders of the Court; n. Narrowly tailor the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement for purposes of protecting the
damaged areas of TRNP;

3. After due proceedings, render a Decision which shall include, without limitation:
o. Declare the grant of immunity found in Article V ("Criminal Jurisdiction") and Article VI of the
Visiting Forces Agreement unconstitutional for violating equal protection and/or for violating the
a. Order Respondents Secretary of Foreign Affairs, following the dispositive portion of Nicolas v. preemptory norm of nondiscrimination incorporated as part of the law of the land under Section 2,
Romulo, "to forthwith negotiate with the United States representatives for the appropriate Article II, of the Philippine Constitution;
agreement on [environmental guidelines and environmental accountability] under Philippine
authorities as provided in Art. V[] of the VFA ... "
p. Allow for continuing discovery measures;

b. Direct Respondents and appropriate agencies to commence administrative, civil, and criminal
proceedings against erring officers and individuals to the full extent of the law, and to make such q. Supervise marine wildlife rehabilitation in the Tubbataha Reefs in all other respects; and
proceedings public;

4. Provide just and equitable environmental rehabilitation measures and such other reliefs as are
c. Declare that Philippine authorities may exercise primary and exclusive criminal jurisdiction over just and equitable under the premises.7 (Underscoring supplied.)
erring U.S. personnel under the circumstances of this case;

Since only the Philippine respondents filed their comment8 to the petition, petitioners also
d. Require Respondents to pay just and reasonable compensation in the settlement of all meritorious filed a motion for early resolution and motion to proceed ex parte against the US
claims for damages caused to the Tubbataha Reef on terms and conditions no less severe than those respondents.9
applicable to other States, and damages for personal injury or death, if such had been the case;

e. Direct Respondents to cooperate in providing for the attendance of witnesses and in the collection
Respondents' Consolidated Comment
and production of evidence, including seizure and delivery of objects connected with the offenses
related to the grounding of the Guardian; In their consolidated comment with opposition to the application for a TEPO and ocular
inspection and production orders, respondents assert that: ( 1) the grounds relied upon for
f. Require the authorities of the Philippines and the United States to notify each other of the the issuance of a TEPO or writ of Kalikasan have become fait accompli as the salvage
disposition of all cases, wherever heard, related to the grounding of the Guardian; operations on the USS Guardian were already completed; (2) the petition is defective in
form and substance; (3) the petition improperly raises issues involving the VFA between the
g. Restrain Respondents from proceeding with any purported restoration, repair, salvage or post Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America; and ( 4) the determination of
salvage plan or plans, including cleanup plans covering the damaged area of the Tubbataha Reef the extent of responsibility of the US Government as regards the damage to the Tubbataha
absent a just settlement approved by the Honorable Court; Reefs rests exdusively with the executive branch.

h. Require Respondents to engage in stakeholder and LOU consultations in accordance with the The Court's Ruling
Local Government Code and R.A. 10067;

As a preliminary matter, there is no dispute on the legal standing of petitioners to file the
i. Require Respondent US officials and their representatives to place a deposit to the TRNP Trust
present petition.
Fund defined under Section 17 of RA 10067 as a bona .fide gesture towards full reparations;

j. Direct Respondents to undertake measures to rehabilitate the areas affected by the grounding of Locus standi is "a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given
the Guardian in light of Respondents' experience in the Port Royale grounding in 2009, among other question."10 Specifically, it is "a party's personal and substantial interest in a case where he
similar grounding incidents; has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result" of the act being challenged, and "calls
for more than just a generalized grievance."11 However, the rule on standing is a procedural
matter which this Court has relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens,
taxpayers and legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the subject In United States of America v. Judge Guinto,18 we discussed the principle of state immunity
matter of the controversy is of transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to from suit, as follows:
society, or of paramount public interest.12
The rule that a state may not be sued without its consent, now · expressed in Article XVI,
In the landmark case of Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.,13 we recognized the "public right" of citizens Section 3, of the 1987 Constitution, is one of the generally accepted principles of
to "a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our constitutional history, is international law that we have adopted as part of the law of our land under Article II,
solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law." We declared that the right to a balanced Section 2. x x x.
and healthful ecology need not be written in the Constitution for it is assumed, like other
civil and polittcal rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist from the inception of
Even without such affirmation, we would still be bound by the generally accepted principles
mankind and it is an issue of transcendental importance with intergenerational
of international law under the doctrine of incorporation. Under this doctrine, as accepted by
implications.1âwphi1 Such right carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from
the majority of states, such principles are deemed incorporated in the law of every civilized
impairing the environment.14
state as a condition and consequence of its membership in the society of nations. Upon its
admission to such society, the state is automatically obligated to comply with these
On the novel element in the class suit filed by the petitioners minors in Oposa, this Court principles in its relations with other states.
ruled that not only do ordinary citizens have legal standing to sue for the enforcement of
environmental rights, they can do so in representation of their own and future generations.
As applied to the local state, the doctrine of state immunity is based on the justification
Thus:
given by Justice Holmes that ''there can be no legal right against the authority which makes
the law on which the right depends." [Kawanakoa v. Polybank, 205 U.S. 349] There are
Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations yet other practical reasons for the enforcement of the doctrine. In the case of the foreign state
unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their sought to be impleaded in the local jurisdiction, the added inhibition is expressed in the
generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in maxim par in parem, non habet imperium. All states are sovereign equals and cannot assert
behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational jurisdiction over one another. A contrary disposition would, in the language of a celebrated
responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a case, "unduly vex the peace of nations." [De Haber v. Queen of Portugal, 17 Q. B. 171]
right, as hereinafter expounded, considers the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature
means the created world in its entirety. Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include,
While the doctrine appears to prohibit only suits against the state without its consent, it is
inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of
also applicable to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly performed
the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other
by them in the discharge of their duties. The rule is that if the judgment against such
natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be
officials will require the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the same,. such
equitably accessible to the present a:: well as future generations. Needless to say, every
as the appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages awarded against them, the
generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full
suit must be regarded as against the state itself although it has not been formally
1:njoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion
impleaded. [Garcia v. Chief of Staff, 16 SCRA 120] In such a situation, the state may move
of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their
to dismiss the comp.taint on the ground that it has been filed without its
obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come. 15 (Emphasis
consent.19 (Emphasis supplied.)
supplied.)

Under the American Constitution, the doctrine is expressed in the Eleventh Amendment
The liberalization of standing first enunciated in Oposa, insofar as it refers to minors and
which reads:
generations yet unborn, is now enshrined in the Rules which allows the filing of a citizen
suit in environmental cases. The provision on citizen suits in the Rules "collapses the
traditional rule on personal and direct interest, on the principle that humans are stewards The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law
of nature."16 or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another
State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
Having settled the issue of locus standi, we shall address the more fundamental question of
whether this Court has jurisdiction over the US respondents who did not submit any In the case of Minucher v. Court of Appeals,20 we further expounded on the immunity of
pleading or manifestation in this case. foreign states from the jurisdiction of local courts, as follows:

The immunity of the State from suit, known also as the doctrine of sovereign immunity or The precept that a State cannot be sued in the courts of a foreign state is a long-standing
non-suability of the State,17is expressly provided in Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution rule of customary international law then closely identified with the personal immunity of a
which states: foreign sovereign from suit and, with the emergence of democratic states, made to attach
not just to the person of the head of state, or his representative, but also distinctly to the
state itself in its sovereign capacity. If the acts giving rise to a suit arc those of a foreign
Section 3. The State may not be sued without its consent.
government done by its foreign agent, although not necessarily a diplomatic personage, but
acting in his official capacity, the complaint could be barred by the immunity of the foreign
sovereign from suit without its consent. Suing a representative of a state is believed to be, in
effect, suing the state itself. The proscription is not accorded for the benefit of an individual xxxx
but for the State, in whose service he is, under the maxim -par in parem, non habet
imperium -that all states are soverr~ign equals and cannot assert jurisdiction over one
The aforecited authorities are clear on the matter. They state that the doctrine of immunity
another. The implication, in broad terms, is that if the judgment against an official would
from suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public official is being sued in his
rec 1uire the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the award, such as the
private and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. The cloak of protection afforded the
appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages decreed against him, the suit must
officers and agents of the government is removed the moment they are sued in their
be regarded as being against the state itself, although it has not been formally
individual capacity. This situation usually arises where the public official acts without
impleaded.21 (Emphasis supplied.)
authority or in excess of the powers vested in him. It is a well-settled principle of law that a
public official may be liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage he may
In the same case we also mentioned that in the case of diplomatic immunity, the privilege is have caused by his act done with malice and in bad faith, or beyond the scope of his
not an immunity from the observance of the law of the territorial sovereign or from ensuing authority or jurisdiction.26 (Emphasis supplied.) In this case, the US respondents were sued
legal liability; it is, rather, an immunity from the exercise of territorial jurisdiction.22 in their official capacity as commanding officers of the US Navy who had control and
supervision over the USS Guardian and its crew. The alleged act or omission resulting in
the unfortunate grounding of the USS Guardian on the TRNP was committed while they
In United States of America v. Judge Guinto,23 one of the consolidated cases therein
we:re performing official military duties. Considering that the satisfaction of a judgment
involved a Filipino employed at Clark Air Base who was arrested following a buy-bust
against said officials will require remedial actions and appropriation of funds by the US
operation conducted by two officers of the US Air Force, and was eventually dismissed from
government, the suit is deemed to be one against the US itself. The principle of State
his employment when he was charged in court for violation of R.A. No. 6425. In a complaint
immunity therefore bars the exercise of jurisdiction by this Court over the persons of
for damages filed by the said employee against the military officers, the latter moved to
respondents Swift, Rice and Robling.
dismiss the case on the ground that the suit was against the US Government which had not
given its consent. The RTC denied the motion but on a petition for certiorari and prohibition
filed before this Court, we reversed the RTC and dismissed the complaint. We held that During the deliberations, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio took the position that
petitioners US military officers were acting in the exercise of their official functions when the conduct of the US in this case, when its warship entered a restricted area in violation of
they conducted the buy-bust operation against the complainant and thereafter testified R.A. No. 10067 and caused damage to the TRNP reef system, brings the matter within the
against him at his trial. It follows that for discharging their duties as agents of the United ambit of Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). He
States, they cannot be directly impleaded for acts imputable to their principal, which has explained that while historically, warships enjoy sovereign immunity from suit as
not given its consent to be sued. extensions of their flag State, Art. 31 of the UNCLOS creates an exception to this rule in
cases where they fail to comply with the rules and regulations of the coastal State regarding
passage through the latter's internal waters and the territorial sea.
This traditional rule of State immunity which exempts a State from being sued in the courts
of another State without the former's consent or waiver has evolved into a restrictive
doctrine which distinguishes sovereign and governmental acts (Jure imperil") from private, According to Justice Carpio, although the US to date has not ratified the UNCLOS, as a
commercial and proprietary acts (Jure gestionis). Under the restrictive rule of State matter of long-standing policy the US considers itself bound by customary international
immunity, State immunity extends only to acts Jure imperii. The restrictive application of rules on the "traditional uses of the oceans" as codified in UNCLOS, as can be gleaned from
State immunity is proper only when the proceedings arise out of commercial transactions of previous declarations by former Presidents Reagan and Clinton, and the US judiciary in the
the foreign sovereign, its commercial activities or economic affairs. 24 case of United States v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd.27

In Shauf v. Court of Appeals,25 we discussed the limitations of the State immunity principle, The international law of the sea is generally defined as "a body of treaty rules arid
thus: customary norms governing the uses of the sea, the exploitation of its resources, and the
exercise of jurisdiction over maritime regimes. It is a branch of public international law,
regulating the relations of states with respect to the uses of the oceans."28 The UNCLOS is a
It is a different matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such
multilateral treaty which was opened for signature on December 10, 1982 at Montego Bay,
for acts contrary to law and injurious to the rights of plaintiff. As was clearly set forth by
Jamaica. It was ratified by the Philippines in 1984 but came into force on November 16,
JustiGe Zaldivar in Director of the Bureau of Telecommunications, et al. vs. Aligaen, etc., et
1994 upon the submission of the 60th ratification.
al. : "Inasmuch as the State authorizes only legal acts by its officers, unauthorized acts of
government officials or officers are not acts of the State, and an action against the officials
or officers by one whose rights have been invaded or violated by such acts, for the protection The UNCLOS is a product of international negotiation that seeks to balance State
of his rights, is not a suit against the State within the rule of immunity of the State from sovereignty (mare clausum) and the principle of freedom of the high seas (mare
suit. In the same tenor, it has been said that an action at law or suit in equity against a liberum).29 The freedom to use the world's marine waters is one of the oldest customary
State officer or the director of a State department on the ground that, while claiming to act principles of international law.30 The UNCLOS gives to the coastal State sovereign rights in
for the State, he violates or invades the personal and property rights of the plaintiff, under varying degrees over the different zones of the sea which are: 1) internal waters, 2)
an unconstitutional act or under an assumption of authority which he does not have, is not a territorial sea, 3) contiguous zone, 4) exclusive economic zone, and 5) the high seas. It also
suit against the State within the constitutional provision that the State may not be sued gives coastal States more or less jurisdiction over foreign vessels depending on where the
without its consent." The rationale for this ruling is that the doctrine of state immunity vessel is located.31
cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice.
Insofar as the internal waters and territorial sea is concerned, the Coastal State exercises While UNCLOS cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) during the 108th
sovereignty, subject to the UNCLOS and other rules of international law. Such sovereignty and 110th Congresses, its progress continues to be hamstrung by significant pockets of
extends to the air space over the territorial sea as well as to its bed and subsoil. 32 political ambivalence over U.S. participation in international institutions. Most recently,
111 th Congress SFRC Chairman Senator John Kerry included "voting out" UNCLOS for
full Senate consideration among his highest priorities. This did not occur, and no Senate
In the case of warships,33 as pointed out by Justice Carpio, they continue to enjoy sovereign
action has been taken on UNCLOS by the 112th Congress.34
immunity subject to the following exceptions:

Justice Carpio invited our attention to the policy statement given by President Reagan on
Article 30
March 10, 1983 that the US will "recognize the rights of the other , states in the waters off
Non-compliance by warships with the laws and regulations of the coastal State
their coasts, as reflected in the convention [UNCLOS], so long as the rights and freedom of
the United States and others under international law are recognized by such coastal states",
If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State and President Clinton's reiteration of the US policy "to act in a manner consistent with its
concerning passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance [UNCLOS] provisions relating to traditional uses of the oceans and to encourage other
therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea countries to do likewise." Since Article 31 relates to the "traditional uses of the oceans," and
immediately. "if under its policy, the US 'recognize[s] the rights of the other states in the waters off their
coasts,"' Justice Carpio postulates that "there is more reason to expect it to recognize the
Article 31 rights of other states in their internal waters, such as the Sulu Sea in this case."
Responsibility of the flag State for damage caused by a warship
As to the non-ratification by the US, Justice Carpio emphasizes that "the US' refusal to join
or other government ship operated for non-commercial purposes the UN CLOS was centered on its disagreement with UN CLOS' regime of deep seabed
mining (Part XI) which considers the oceans and deep seabed commonly owned by
mankind," pointing out that such "has nothing to do with its [the US'] acceptance of
The flag State shall bear international responsibility for any loss or damage to the coastal customary international rules on navigation."
State resulting from the non-compliance by a warship or other government ship operated for
non-commercial purposes with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning
passage through the territorial sea or with the provisions of this Convention or other rules It may be mentioned that even the US Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps publicly
of international law. endorses the ratification of the UNCLOS, as shown by the following statement posted on its
official website:

Article 32
Immunities of warships and other government ships operated for non-commercial purposes The Convention is in the national interest of the United States because it establishes stable
maritime zones, including a maximum outer limit for territorial seas; codifies innocent
passage, transit passage, and archipelagic sea lanes passage rights; works against
With such exceptions as are contained in subsection A and in articles 30 and 31, nothing in "jurisdictiomtl creep" by preventing coastal nations from expanding their own maritime
this Convention affects the immunities of warships and other government ships operated for zones; and reaffirms sovereign immunity of warships, auxiliaries anJ government aircraft.
non-commercial purposes. (Emphasis supplied.) A foreign warship's unauthorized entry into
our internal waters with resulting damage to marine resources is one situation in which the
above provisions may apply. But what if the offending warship is a non-party to the xxxx
UNCLOS, as in this case, the US?
Economically, accession to the Convention would support our national interests by
An overwhelming majority - over 80% -- of nation states are now members of UNCLOS, but enhancing the ability of the US to assert its sovereign rights over the resources of one of the
despite this the US, the world's leading maritime power, has not ratified it. largest continental shelves in the world. Further, it is the Law of the Sea Convention that
first established the concept of a maritime Exclusive Economic Zone out to 200 nautical
miles, and recognized the rights of coastal states to conserve and manage the natural
While the Reagan administration was instrumental in UNCLOS' negotiation and drafting, resources in this Zone.35
the U.S. delegation ultimately voted against and refrained from signing it due to concerns
over deep seabed mining technology transfer provisions contained in Part XI. In a
remarkable, multilateral effort to induce U.S. membership, the bulk of UNCLOS member We fully concur with Justice Carpio's view that non-membership in the UNCLOS does not
states cooperated over the succeeding decade to revise the objection.able provisions. The mean that the US will disregard the rights of the Philippines as a Coastal State over its
revisions satisfied the Clinton administration, which signed the revised Part XI internal waters and territorial sea. We thus expect the US to bear "international
implementing agreement in 1994. In the fall of 1994, President Clinton transmitted responsibility" under Art. 31 in connection with the USS Guardian grounding which
UNCLOS and the Part XI implementing agreement to the Senate requesting its advice and adversely affected the Tubbataha reefs. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that our long-time
consent. Despite consistent support from President Clinton, each of his successors, and an ally and trading partner, which has been actively supporting the country's efforts to
ideologically diverse array of stakeholders, the Senate has since withheld the consent preserve our vital marine resources, would shirk from its obligation to compensate the
required for the President to internationally bind the United States to UNCLOS. damage caused by its warship while transiting our internal waters. Much less can we
comprehend a Government exercising leadership in international affairs, unwilling to
comply with the UNCLOS directive for all nations to cooperate in the global task to protect allows the recovery of damages, including the collection of administrative fines under R.A.
and preserve the marine environment as provided in Article 197, viz: No. 10067, in a separate civil suit or that deemed instituted with the criminal action
charging the same violation of an environmental law.37
Article 197
Cooperation on a global or regional basis Section 15, Rule 7 enumerates the reliefs which may be granted in a petition for issuance of
a writ of Kalikasan, to wit:
States shall cooperate on a global basis and, as appropriate, on a regional basis, directly or
through competent international organizations, in formulating and elaborating SEC. 15. Judgment.-Within sixty (60) days from the time the petition is submitted for
international rules, standards and recommended practices and procedures consistent with decision, the court shall render judgment granting or denying the privilege of the writ of
this Convention, for the protection and preservation of the marine environment, taking into kalikasan.
account characteristic regional features.
The reliefs that may be granted under the writ are the following:
In fine, the relevance of UNCLOS provisions to the present controversy is beyond dispute.
Although the said treaty upholds the immunity of warships from the jurisdiction of Coastal (a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the
States while navigating the.latter's territorial sea, the flag States shall be required to leave performance of a duty in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or
the territorial '::;ea immediately if they flout the laws and regulations of the Coastal State, damage;
and they will be liable for damages caused by their warships or any other government vessel
operated for non-commercial purposes under Article 31.
(b) Directing the respondent public official, govemment agency, private person or entity to protect,
preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;
Petitioners argue that there is a waiver of immunity from suit found in the VFA. Likewise,
they invoke federal statutes in the US under which agencies of the US have statutorily (c) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to monitor
waived their immunity to any action. Even under the common law tort claims, petitioners strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;
asseverate that the US respondents are liable for negligence, trespass and nuisance.
(d) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, or private person or entity to make
We are not persuaded. periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and

The VFA is an agreement which defines the treatment of United States troops and (e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology or to
the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the award of
personnel visiting the Philippines to promote "common security interests" between the US damages to individual petitioners. (Emphasis supplied.)
and the Philippines in the region. It provides for the guidelines to govern such visits of
military personnel, and further defines the rights of the United States and the Philippine
government in the matter of criminal jurisdiction, movement of vessel and aircraft, We agree with respondents (Philippine officials) in asserting that this petition has become
importation and exportation of equipment, materials and supplies. 36 The invocation of US moot in the sense that the salvage operation sought to be enjoined or restrained had already
federal tort laws and even common law is thus improper considering that it is the VF A been accomplished when petitioners sought recourse from this Court. But insofar as the
which governs disputes involving US military ships and crew navigating Philippine waters directives to Philippine respondents to protect and rehabilitate the coral reef stn icture and
in pursuance of the objectives of the agreement. marine habitat adversely affected by the grounding incident are concerned, petitioners are
entitled to these reliefs notwithstanding the completion of the removal of the USS Guardian
from the coral reef. However, we are mindful of the fact that the US and Philippine
As it is, the waiver of State immunity under the VF A pertains only to criminal jurisdiction governments both expressed readiness to negotiate and discuss the matter of compensation
and not to special civil actions such as the present petition for issuance of a writ of for the damage caused by the USS Guardian. The US Embassy has also declared it is closely
Kalikasan. In fact, it can be inferred from Section 17, Rule 7 of the Rules that a criminal coordinating with local scientists and experts in assessing the extent of the damage and
case against a person charged with a violation of an environmental law is to be filed appropriate methods of rehabilitation.
separately:

Exploring avenues for settlement of environmental cases is not proscribed by the Rules. As
SEC. 17. Institution of separate actions.-The filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ can be gleaned from the following provisions, mediation and settlement are available for the
of kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative consideration of the parties, and which dispute resolution methods are encouraged by the
actions. court, to wit:

In any case, it is our considered view that a ruling on the application or non-application of RULE3
criminal jurisdiction provisions of the VF A to US personnel who may be found responsible
for the grounding of the USS Guardian, would be premature and beyond the province of a
petition for a writ of Kalikasan. We also find it unnecessary at this point to determine xxxx
whether such waiver of State immunity is indeed absolute. In the same vein, we cannot
grant damages which have resulted from the violation of environmental laws. The Rules
SEC. 3. Referral to mediation.-At the start of the pre-trial conference, the court shall inquire A rehabilitation or restoration program to be implemented at the cost of the violator is also
from the parties if they have settled the dispute; otherwise, the court shall immediately a major relief that may be obtained under a judgment rendered in a citizens' suit under the
refer the parties or their counsel, if authorized by their clients, to the Philippine Mediation Rules, viz:
Center (PMC) unit for purposes of mediation. If not available, the court shall refer the case
to the clerk of court or legal researcher for mediation.
RULES

Mediation must be conducted within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from receipt
SECTION 1. Reliefs in a citizen suit.-If warranted, the court may grant to the plaintiff
of notice of referral to mediation.
proper reliefs which shall include the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the
environment and the payment of attorney's fees, costs of suit and other litigation expenses.
The mediation report must be submitted within ten (10) days from the expiration of the 30- It may also require the violator to submit a program of rehabilitation or restoration of the
day period. environment, the costs of which shall be borne by the violator, or to contribute to a special
trust fund for that purpose subject to the control of the court.1âwphi1
SEC. 4. Preliminary conference.-If mediation fails, the court will schedule the continuance
of the pre-trial. Before the scheduled date of continuance, the court may refer the case to the In the light of the foregoing, the Court defers to the Executive Branch on the matter of
branch clerk of court for a preliminary conference for the following purposes: compensation and rehabilitation measures through diplomatic channels. Resolution of these
issues impinges on our relations with another State in the context of common security
interests under the VFA. It is settled that "[t]he conduct of the foreign relations of our
(a) To assist the parties in reaching a settlement;
government is committed by the Constitution to the executive and legislative-"the political"
--departments of the government, and the propriety of what may be done in the exercise of
xxxx this political power is not subject to judicial inquiry or decision."40

SEC. 5. Pre-trial conference; consent decree.-The judge shall put the parties and their On the other hand, we cannot grant the additional reliefs prayed for in the petition to order
counsels under oath, and they shall remain under oath in all pre-trial conferences. a review of the VFA and to nullify certain immunity provisions thereof.

The judge shall exert best efforts to persuade the parties to arrive at a settlement of the As held in BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) v. Exec. Sec. Zamora,41 the VFA was
dispute. The judge may issue a consent decree approving the agreement between the parties duly concurred in by the Philippine Senate and has been recognized as a treaty by the
in accordance with law, morals, public order and public policy to protect the right of the United States as attested and certified by the duly authorized representative of the United
people to a balanced and healthful ecology. States government. The VF A being a valid and binding agreement, the parties are required
as a matter of international law to abide by its terms and provisions.42 The present petition
xxxx under the Rules is not the proper remedy to assail the constitutionality of its provisions.
WHEREFORE, the petition for the issuance of the privilege of the Writ of Kalikasan is
hereby DENIED.
SEC. 10. Efforts to settle.- The court shall endeavor to make the parties to agree to
compromise or settle in accordance with law at any stage of the proceedings before rendition
of judgment. (Underscoring supplied.) No pronouncement as to costs.

The Court takes judicial notice of a similar incident in 2009 when a guided-missile cruiser, SO ORDERED.
the USS Port Royal, ran aground about half a mile off the Honolulu Airport Reef Runway
and remained stuck for four days. After spending $6.5 million restoring the coral reef, the
US government was reported to have paid the State of Hawaii $8.5 million in settlement
over coral reef damage caused by the grounding.38

To underscore that the US government is prepared to pay appropriate compensation for the
damage caused by the USS Guardian grounding, the US Embassy in the Philippines has
announced the formation of a US interdisciplinary scientific team which will "initiate
discussions with the Government of the Philippines to review coral reef rehabilitation
options in Tubbataha, based on assessments by Philippine-based marine scientists." The US
team intends to "help assess damage and remediation options, in coordination with the
Tubbataha Management Office, appropriate Philippine government entities, non-
governmental organizations, and scientific experts from Philippine universities."39
G.R. No. 180771. April 21, 2015.*
RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TAÑON requiring all of the office holders time, also demands undivided attention.”—Section 10, Rule
STRAIT, e.g., TOOTHED WHALES, DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN 3 of the Rules of Court provides: Sec. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff.—If the consent of any party
SPECIES, joined in and represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo Ramos and who should be joined as plaintiff can not be obtained, he may be made a defendant and the
Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, in their capacity as Legal Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint. Under the foregoing rule, when the consent
as Responsible Stewards of God’s Creations, petitioners, vs. SECRETARY ANGELO of a party who should be joined as a plaintiff cannot be obtained, he or she may be made a
REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), SECRETARY party defendant to the case. This will put the unwilling party under the jurisdiction of the
JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Court, which can properly implead him or her through its processes. The unwilling party’s
Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR Regional Director-Region name cannot be simply included in a petition, without his or her knowledge and consent, as
VII and in his capacity as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management such would be a denial of due process. Moreover, the reason cited by the petitioners
Board, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DIRECTOR MALCOLM J. Stewards for including former President Macapagal-Arroyo in their petition, is not sufficient
SARMIENTO, JR., BFAR Regional Director for Region VII ANDRES M. BOJOS, JAPAN to implead her as an unwilling co-petitioner. Impleading the former President as an
PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, unwilling co-petitioner, for an act she made in the performance of the functions of her office,
SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC., respondents. is contrary to the public policy against embroiling the President in suits, “to assure the
exercise of Presidential duties and functions free from any hindrance or distraction,
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Parties; Locus Standi; Citizen Suits; Rules of considering that being the Chief Executive of the Government is a job that, aside from
Procedure for Environmental Cases; The Court passed the landmark Rules of Procedure for requiring all of the office holder’s time, also demands undivided attention.” Therefore,
Environmental Cases,which allow for a “citizen suit,” and permit any Filipino citizen to file former President Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be impleaded as one of the petitioners in this
an action before our courts for violations of our environmental laws.—It had been suggested suit. Thus, her name is stricken off the title of this case.
by animal rights advocates and environmentalists that not only natural and juridical
persons should be given legal standing because of the difficulty for persons, who cannot Service Contracts; In La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos, 445 SCRA 1
show that they by themselves are real parties-in-interests, to bring actions in representation (2004), the Supreme Court (SC) held that the deletion of the words “service contracts” in the
of these animals or inanimate objects. For this reason, many environmental cases have been 1987 Constitution did not amount to a ban on them per se.—This Court has previously
dismissed for failure of the petitioner to show that he/she would be directly injured or settled the issue of whether service contracts are still allowed under the 1987 Constitution.
affected by the outcome of the case. However, in our jurisdiction, locus standi in In La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos, 445 SCRA 1 (2004), we held that the
environmental cases has been given a more liberalized approach. While developments in deletion of the words “service contracts” in the 1987 Constitution did not amount to a ban on
Philippine legal theory and jurisprudence have not progressed as far as Justice Douglas’s them per se. In fact, in that decision, we quoted in length, portions of the deliberations of the
paradigm of legal standing for inanimate objects, the current trend moves towards members of the Constitutional Commission (ConCom) to show that in deliberating on
simplification of procedures and facilitating court access in environmental cases. Recently, paragraph 4, Section 2, Article XII, they were actually referring to service contracts as
the Court passed the landmark Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, which understood in the 1973 Constitution, albeit with safety measures to eliminate or minimize
allow for a “citizen suit,” and permit any Filipino citizen to file an action before our courts the abuses prevalent during the martial law regime.
for violations of our environmental laws.
Natural Resources; Oil Explorations; Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972;
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Environmental Cases; Even before the Rules of The disposition, exploration, development, exploitation, and utilization of indigenous
Procedure for Environmental Cases became effective, the Supreme Court (SC) had already petroleum in the Philippines are governed by Presidential Decree (PD) No. 87 or the Oil
taken a permissive position on the issue of locus standi in environmental cases.—Even before Exploration and Development Act of 1972.—The disposition, exploration, development,
the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases became effective, this Court had already exploitation, and utilization of indigenous petroleum in the Philippines are governed by
taken a permissive position on the issue of locus standi in environmental cases. In Oposa v. Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972. This was
Factoran, Jr., 224 SCRA 792 (1993), we allowed the suit to be brought in the name of enacted by then President Ferdinand Marcos to promote the discovery and production of
generations yet unborn “based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as indigeno