SC issues writ of amparo in favor of rights groups

Robie de Guzman   •   May 30, 2019   •   958

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a writ of amparo and habeas data in favor of human rights groups Karapatan, Gabriela and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines against what they claimed as threats against their lives from government troops.

In a resolution dated May 24 but made public on Thursday, the SC directed President Rodrigo Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and other officials from Malacañang and the military and police to comment on petition and file a verified return before the Court of Appeals (CA) by June 13.

A writ of amparo is a legal remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is threatened or violated by public officials or private individuals.

A writ of habeas data covers similar threats or violations but by persons who are engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of information or personal data of the aggrieved party.

The high court also directed the CA to hear the petition on June 18 and resolve the case in 10 days after the hearing.

Last May 6, Karapatan, Gabriela and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines filed the petition, seeking SC’s protection from alleged threats against their members’ lives after they were tagged by the government as alleged fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

SC clarifies order to release Ex-Mayor Sanchez didn’t come from them

Maris Federez   •   August 23, 2019

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has clarified that the order to release former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez from prison did not emanate from them.

Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Bryan Keith Hosaka said the high court only issued its interpretation of Republic Act 10592 which increased the good conduct time allowance given to prisoners.

The high court ruled that the said law can be applied retroactively, which would include the case of the former mayor.

“First the Supreme Court did not order the release of Mayor Sanchez in its recent decision in the consolidated cases.  Like all laws, the implementation and execution of RA10952 is left for the executive branch of government, again, the judiciary or the supreme court only interpreted RA10952 and ruled that it can be applied retroactively,” Hosaka said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said that they have asked the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to draft clearer guidelines as to who can benefit the credit time allowances to inmates.

Guevarra added that it will be very timely for Congress to scrutinize the implementation of the said law.

 “We have requested the Bucor through Faeldon be very clear about the guidelines kasi mukhang di pa maayos na maayos ang mga guidelines diyan [because it seems that the guidelines are not yet clearly defined]. So, this is an opportunity for the Bucor to make clear mga [the] guidelines,” said Guevarra.

Meanwhile, a group of women on Friday staged a protest in front of the Department of Justice against the impending release of Mayor Sanchez who was convicted for a rape and murder of two UP Los Baños students.

Lisa Maza, leader of Gabriela Alliance of Women said, “Ito ay isang pagsalaula sa ating justice system. Malinaw po na marami din siyang paglabag na ginawa noong siya ay nasa kulungan kaya hindi siya karapat dapat na lumaya [This is a derision to our justice system. It is very clear that he had committed a lot of violations while serving time in prison that is why he doesn’t deserve to be set free].” (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

JBC extends deadline for Chief Justice application, nomination to Sept. 2

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has extended until September 2 the deadline for application and nomination of the next Chief Justice of Supreme Court, a panel member announced on Thursday.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the council decided to extend the deadline to invite more applicants to the position.

The application for the next chief justice initially closed on August 20.

Only four Supreme Court justices have filed their application and acceptance of nomination, namely, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Andres Reyes Jr and Jose Reyes Jr.

Perlas-Bernabe and Peralta were among the five SC senior associate justices who were automatically nominated for the post. The other three magistrates are Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguiao who all rejected their automatic nominations.

Carpio earlier said he declined his nomination as he is set to retire in October. Leonen and Caguiao, however, did not cite their reasons.

The chief justice position will be vacated when CJ Lucas Bersamin will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 on October 18.

Bersamin was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as chief justice on November 28, 2018.

Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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