CA junks Writ of Amparo for suspected JI financier

December 13, 2010 11:27 am 

MANILA, Dec. 12 – The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed a petition for a Writ of Amparo filed by the wife of a suspected financier of terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah in Mindanao.

The CA Tenth Division ruling, penned by Associate Justice Michael Elbinias, effectively prevented Eduard Gerra, alias 'Abraham Lonto' from being release from the custody of the Intelligence Service Group of the Philippine Army (ISG-PA).

“The reason why the pendency of a criminal action bars the filing of a petition for amparo is, as the Supreme Court (SC) explains in its annotation to the writ of amparo, ‘to avoid the difficulties that may be encountered when the amparo action is allowed to proceed separately from the criminal action, wherein two courts trying essentially the same subject may issue conflicting orders,” the CA ruling said.

It also said the allegations raised by Guerra’s wife, Jocelyn, in her amparo petition, were not the acts covered by the writ, which were those similar to extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, which would endanger one’s life, liberty, or security.

In her petition, Jocelyn said there was no preliminary investigation on the case of her husband, the information filed against him were insufficient, his arrest was illegal,the warrant of arrest issued against him by the trial court was invalid, and her husband experienced mental and physical torture while in detention.

The CA also said that the petitioner should have filed appropriate motions before the trial court to avail of the reliefs provided for under Section 22 of the Rules on the Writ of Amparo, which stipulates that “when a criminal action has been commenced, no separate petition for the writ shall be filed. The reliefs under the writ shall be available by motion in the criminal case.”

The SC clarified in its annotation to the Writ of Amparo that it is only when the aggrieved party’s whereabouts are unknown that the petition may be filed by qualified persons or entities.

“To begin with, an examination of the allegations in the petition shows that the aggrieved party, Eduard Guerra, is alleged to be detained in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Thus, despite the fact that his whereabouts are known, the aggrieved party himself was not the one whole filed the petition,” the CA said.

Records showed Guerra, along with 62 others were charged on June 28, 2010, before the Saranggani Regional Trial Court in connection their participation in the attack on the town’s police station, an electric substation and a military detachment which left two civilians dead.

On Sept. 1, 2010, a warrant of arrest was issued in the names of Guerra and several others by the Saranggani Regional Trial Court.

In the return of the arrest warrant, Police Insp. Saguisag Mira requested that the ISG-PA be allowed to take custody of Guerra as he was considered a high-profile detainee being a major Jemaah Islamiyah facilitator and financier for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in purchasing and smuggling large quantities of weapons and ammunition from North Korea and other parts of East Asia.

On the same day, the Sarrangani Regional Trial Court issued a ruling ordering the continuing detention of Guerra at ISG-PA facilities at Fort Bonifacio. (PNA)

RMA/PFN

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