Appellate court to decide on rights defenders’ plea sans presentation of witnesses

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, laments that the Court of Appeals did not give them the chance to be heard. (photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat)

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — The Court of Appeals 14th Division held a one-day hearing on the petition for writ of amparo and writ of habeas data filed by Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Gabriela this morning, June 18 and deemed the petition submitted for resolution.

The CA’s 14th Division headed by Justice Mario Lopez did not allow the petitioners to present testimonial evidence and other documents to prove their allegations. Instead, the court heard the arguments of both parties on procedural and substantive issues related to the petition.

Lopez maintained that the rules on petition for writ of amparo requires that hearings be summary.

Lawyers of the petitioners were surprised with the court’s decision, which they said was a deviation from previous cases of amparo petitions they handled.

Ephraim Cortez,secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), argued that there should be a uniformity in the procedures.

“That’s a very basic principles,” Cortez told Bulatlat immediately after the hearing.

The NUPL was prepared for a preliminary conference, just as what occured in their own petition of writ of amparo being heard by another division of the Court of Appeals.

Cortez also pointed out that they have not even received a copy of the respondents’ verified return, which was sent via snail mail.

Josa Deinla of the NUPL told the media that they have been preparing their witnesses to testify in court. One of them, Ryan Hubilla, was shot dead in Sorsogon this weekend.

The petitioners were “very disappointed” with how the court handled their case.

Cristina Palabay,secretary general of Karapatan, said, “We have not been given the chance to be heard.”

Joan Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela, found the court’s decision “disturbing.”

“How many more have to die before the court takes action?” Salvador said in Filipino.

Red tagging

Lawyers of the respondents from the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) argued that red tagging alone does not necessitate the issuance of writ of amparo.

Speaking to reporters, Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Office (PCCO) also claimed that red tagging is not a crime.

Cortez pointed out that red tagging results in death, threats and harassment of human rights defenders. He cited that former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary killings Philip Alston proved the direct link between red baiting and extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

The NUPL said they will seek all legal remedies.title=”This story is from Bulatlat.com” src=”/main/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/bulatlat_tagline.jpg” alt=”()” height=”16″ />

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