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MELISSA ROXAS v.

MACAPAGAL-ARROYO (2010)

FACTS: Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent, while in the United States, enrolled in an exposure
program to the Philippines with the group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-United States of America (BAYAN- USA) of
which she is a member.

On 19 May 2009, after doing survey work in Tarlac, Roxas and her companions rested in the house of Mr. Jesus Paolo
in Sitio Bagong Sikat. While Roxas and her companions were resting, 15 heavily armed men in civilian clothes forcibly
entered the house and dragged them inside a van. When they alighted from the van, she was informed that she is
being detained for being a member of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). She was
then separated from her companions and was brought to a room, from where she could hear sounds of gunfire, noise
of planes taking off and landing, and some construction bustle.

She was interrogated and tortured for 5 straight days to convince her to abandon her communist beliefs. She was
informed by a person named “RC” that those who tortured her came from the “Special Operations Group” and that she
was abducted because her name is included in the “Order of Battle.”

On 25 May 2009, Roxas was finally released and was given a cellular phone with a sim card. She was sternly warned
not to report the incident to the group Karapatan or something untoward will happen to her and her family. After her
release, Roxas continued to receive calls from RC thru the cell phone given to her. Out of apprehension, she threw the
phone and the sim card.

Hence, on 01 June 2009, Roxas filed a petition for the issuance of Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data before
the Supreme Court, impleading the high-ranking officials of military and Philippine National Police (PNP), on the belief
that it was the government agents who were behind her abduction and torture.

SC issued the writs and referred the case to the CA for hearing, reception of evidence and appropriate action.

CA granted the privilege of writs of amparo and habeas data. However, the court a quo absolved the respondents
because it was not convinced that the respondents were responsible for the abduction and torture of Roxas.

Aggrieved, Roxas filed an appeal with the SC.

ISSUES/HELD: WON circumstantial evidence with regard to the identity and affiliation of the
perpetrators is enough ground for the issuance of the privilege of the writ of amparo – NO

EVIDENCE REQUIRED IN AMPARO PROCEEDINGS

In amparo proceedings, direct evidence of identity must be preferred over mere circumstantial evidence
– In amparo proceedings, the weight that may be accorded to parallel circumstances as evidence of military
involvement depends largely on the availability or non-availability of other pieces of evidence that has the potential of
directly proving the identity and affiliation of the perpetrators.

Direct evidence of identity, when obtainable, must be preferred over mere circumstantial evidence based on patterns
and similarity, because the former indubitably offers greater certainty as to the true identity and affiliation of the
perpetrators.

WON substantial evidence to prove actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty
or security of the victim is necessary before the privilege of the writ may be extended – YES.
Substantial evidence of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or
security of the victim is an indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be extended
– An indispensable requirement before the privilege of the writ may be extended is the showing, at least by
substantial evidence, of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the
victim.
In the case at bar, Roxas failed to show that there is an actual or threatened violation of such right. Hence, until such
time that any of the respondents were found to be actually responsible for the abduction and torture of Roxas, any
inference regarding the existence of reports being kept in violation of the petitioner’s right to privacy becomes
farfetched, and premature. The Court must, at least in the meantime, strike down the grant of the privilege of the writ
of habeas data.