Monday, February 6, 2012

In re Petition for Melissa Roxas (2010)

Melissa Roxas was a Filipino-American activist who was abducted by alleged soldiers under the presumption that she was an NPA member. She was a member of Bayan and was in Tarlac for a Medical mission.
Together with two companions, she was in the house of one Mr. Paolo when 15 armed men banged at the door and seized her. They blindfolded her.
She believed she was being taken to Ft. Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija after estimating the travel time. She saw the faces of her captors. She was tortured under the premise of making her renounce her communist beliefs. She was released. The abductors still did surveillance on her.
In her petition of writ of amparo and habeas data in the supreme court, against certain gov’t officials, she asked:
1. respondent government officials be enjoined from harming her family
2.inspection of detention area  conditions in ft Magsaysay, nueva ecija
3. disclosure of documents regarding the spec ops group of the afp
4. expunge the docs regarding Roxas
5. return the belongings taken from her.
The case was brought to the court of appeals. To dismiss the petition, the respondents averred:
1. the abduction was done with the petitioner’s consent (stage-managed to smear the gov’t.)
2. the petitioner’s medical certificate showed only abrasions on her knees and wrists.
3. The president was immune from suit
4. no specific allegation that the government officials in question committed these atrocities
The CA was convinced that she was abducted. They gave credence to her MC. They court also acknowledged the abductors’ acts of monitoring her and called for the amparo as a duty for the respondents to protect her. They also noted a breach of informational privacy committed by Palparan when her showed videos of her in a training camp for guerillas and told the court about insider infor about Roxas’ joining the NPA. They weren’t convinced that the military was behind the abduction, though.
Hence she petitioned the SC.
1. Did the court of Appeals err in absolving the gov’t officials in the amparo proceeding?
2. Can her belongings be returned?
3. Can Ft. Magsaysay be inspected?
4. Can Habeas Data be used as a remedy?
Held: No to all four. Petition dismissed.
1. Petitioner- there was sufficient evidence of her abduction by govt due to the sound of guns and airplanes. She impleaded generals, the president, and the DND chief due to the doctrine of command responsibility.
Court- incorrect due to being substantive law that established liability in an amparo proceeding.
Hague Conventions As then formulated, command responsibility is "an omission mode of individual criminal liability," whereby the superior is made responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates for failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators
C.R. is more aptly invoked in a criminal or administrative proceeding than one in amparo.
Amparo is part of “remedial measures and directives that may be crafted by the court, in order to address specific violations or threats of violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty or security.”
It is an action for relief available to the petitioner, not used to determine proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The commanders may be impleaded on accountability or responsibility
From the case:
“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 against the responsible parties in the proper courts. “
“Accountability, on the other hand, refers to the measure of remedies 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 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 investigation of the enforced disappearance.”
On responsibility, the court said that the petitioner alleged that the generals had in one way condoned her abduction due to her assertion that govt agents were behind her torture and capture, the inclusion of the military base, etc. However, the evidence doesn’t warrant the conclusion that they were really military. One, the similarity with her abduction to older cases of abduction don’t really point that the government orchestrated that.
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.
There was no direct evidence as regard the affiliation of the abductors.
With regard to ft Magsaysay, the claim that she was taken there can’t be tenable due to her status as a traveller and her blindfolded state.
2. An order directing respondents to return belongings is a conclusive pronouncement of liability which can be done in a full proceeding. Also, a writ of amparo cant be used to protect property rights.
3. A fishing expedition for evidence cant be sanctioned by a writ of amparo.  
An inspection order is an interim relief designed to give support or strengthen the claim of a petitioner in an amparo petition, in order to aid the court before making a decision. The place msut be reasonably determinable from the party’s allegations. Her estimates were unreliable.
4. The writ of habeas data was conceptualized as a judicial remedy enforcing the right to privacy, most especially the right to informational privacy of individuals. It protects a persons right to control information regarding himself, especially when the info is being collected through unlawful means for unlawful ends.
To issue the writ there must be showing of an actual or threatened violation of the right to privacy in life, liberty or security of the victim, which she failed to do.
The court turned the investigation to the CHR. Habeas data was reversed. 

No comments:

Post a Comment