Court dismisses Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data complaint filed by militant leader vs PGMA, Army and PNP officials in Negros Oriental

January 6, 2010 11:36 pm 

By Judy Flores-Partlow

DUMAGUETE CITY, Jan. 6 – The 19th Division of the Court of Appeals has dismissed the petition for Writ of Amparo and Writ of Habeas Data filed by progressive leader Paz Silva against the President of the Philippines and officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, many of whom are based in Negros Oriental, for lack of merit.

The decision was penned by 19th Division Justice Amy Lazaro Javier and concurred by Associate Justices Rodel Salameda and Samuel Gaerlan.

PNP provincial director Sr. Supt. Augusto Marquez, Jr. received Wednesday afternoon a copy of the decision of the case that was promulgated last December 17.

Marquez said the decision will only prove that the performance of duties of the military and the police in Negros Oriental are regular and proper.

He further said that the dismissal of Silva’s petition also denies her claim that the military and police were on a “witch-hunt” for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

To recall, Paz Silva, advocacy officer of the human rights group, Karapatan in Central Visayas, had petitioned the Supreme Court last August 2009 for Writ of Amparo-Habeas Data to stop the military and police from “harassing” and placing her under surveillance.

Silva had claimed of being tailed allegedly by military personnel and of being sent disturbing text messages, but the court said in its decision that the “petitioner showed no substantial evidence that respondents were responsible for them”.

Named respondents in the complaint and who were subsequently cleared by the court were President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Chief of Staff of the AFP, the commander of the AFP’s Central Command (CentCom), Col. Cesar Yano, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, Lt. Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, commanding officer of the 79th Infantry Battalion, Sr. Supt. Marquez, Jr., and the former chief of police of Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

Silva had filed the petition before the high tribunal after she and six other human rights advocates from Cebu were charged with murder by the police and military in Negros Oriental in relation to ambushes allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in the province.

The Dumaguete City Prosecutor’s Office, however, dismissed the murder charges against Silva last June 15, 2009 “for insufficiency of evidence.”

Sr. Supt. Marquez, Jr. said the PNP’s defense was that they had filed the murder charges against Silva and the others based on sworn statements of three Army soldiers who identified her as allegedly one of those seen in an encounter between government troops and rebel forces in Talalak, Sta. Catalina town last year.

On allegations that Silva was in the military’s “order of battle”, Marquez said it is a generic term of military documents that are classified and that the petitioner could not even specify in court which document she was referring to.

Meanwhile, 79th IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Erwin Neri said he was expecting Silva’s petition to be dismissed as all her claims were not true.

Neri said he was never bothered from by the petition from the start and its dismissal only shows that “the justice system in the country is working.” (PNA) LAP/JFP

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