SC prohibits police from surveilling family of alleged NPA member

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020   •   621

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has banned the Philippine National Police (PNP) from monitoring or surveiling the family of an alleged member of the New People’s Army (NPA) who was killed in San Jose, Antique in 2018.

The Supreme Court en banc, voting 8-5-1, granted the petition for review on certiorari filed by Vivian Sanchez assailing the 2018 decision of the San Jose Regional Trial Court (RTC) to deny her petition for writ of amparo.

In a 19-page ruling promulgated on October 15, 2019, the SC issued a permanent protection order prohibiting members of the PNP to monitor Sanchez and her children, and reminded respondent police officers to uphold the citizens’ rights, and conduct investigations according to their manuals.

In August 16, 2018, Sanchez learned that her estranged husband, Eldie Labinghisa, was among the seven alleged NPA members who were gunned down by the police in Barangay Atabay.

She said that when she first went to the funeral home to verify the news, she was unable to identify her husband’s body as police officers stationed there took her photos without her permission.

When she went back the next day, police allegedly threatened to arrest and charge her if she refused to answer their questions. She claimed that police officers even showed up at her house and tailed her even after confirming that the body was of Labinghisa.

The court also said that Sanchez’s 15-year old daughter categorically stated that police cars have frequently driven by their house.

On August 24, 2018, Sanchez filed a petition for writ of amparo before the San Jose RTC, alleging that the police officers’ constant surveillance of her and her family made them fear for their safety.

The RTC issued the writ of amparo and a temporary protection order but was later lifted after the judge found during summary hearing that she was unable to specify acts that threatened her security and liberty.

The lower court’s decision prompted her to bring the case to the Supreme Court.

In its ruling, the SC concluded that Sanchez did not merely imagine the threats against her and her family.

“The totality of obtaining circumstances likewise shows that Vivian and her children were the subject of surveillance because of their relationship with a suspected member of the New People’s Army, creating a real threat to their life, liberty or security,” the court said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

The court considered Sanchez’s apprehension at being targeted as a suspected NPA member as palpable and understandable, causing her to “act suspiciously” as claimed by the respondent police officers, who subjected her to threats and accusations.

In deciding whether or not Sanchez was able to prove with substantial evidence her entitlement to the privilege of a writ of amparo, the SC found that the totality of her evidence undoubtedly showed that she became a person of interest after she had first visited the funeral home, where her photo was taken.

“Whether [Vivian]’s photo was actually posted and distributed at the police station or was just taken for future reference, the taking of the photo bolsters [Vivian]’s claims that she was being monitored by the police,” the court said.

“While pursuing rebels is a legitimate law enforcement objective, the zeal of our police must be bound by the fundamental rights of persons, especially the loved ones of persons in interest. After all, the values we have in our Constitution are what differentiate us from lawless elements,” the court further stated.

81,888 PDLs released during COVID-19 pandemic — SC

Marje Pelayo   •   October 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has noted the use of technology, specifically video conferencing, in expediting the cases of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) even amidst the prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During Friday’s (October 23) ‘CJ Meets the Press’ briefing, Peralta reported that from March to October this year, a total of 81,888 PDLs had their cases resolved and been granted freedom.

The Chief Justice added that the majority of the more than 110,000 cases that they have deliberated on virtually were criminal cases.

The proceedings yielded 88% success rate and only 12% failed due to poor or intermittent Internet connection.

According to CJ Peralta, several PDLs were granted a reduced bail, particularly the indigent ones, to qualify for release while reading of sentence to minors was temporarily suspended.

“Napag-aralan namin na kakaunti lang makapag apply ng bail dahil karamihan dito ay mga indigent,” Peralta explained.

The decision to expedite the release of PDLs was to decongest jail facilities across the country where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is high.

Because at that time we felt na yung COVID-19 ay nag-i-spread na sa mga jails, not only in BJMP jails but also in provincial jails, municipal jails and detention centers ng ating mga pulis,” the official noted.

Of more than 28,000 employees of the Judiciary, 252 contracted COVID-19 which is only 1% of the government branch’s total employee population.

Meanwhile, Peralta said the Supreme Court is now looking into the delays in the processing of cases of more than 1,700 detained quarantine violators.

The Chief Justice stressed these violators shouldn’t stay long in detention as they can be released by just paying a penalty or fine. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

AFP official says not fair to red tag Liza Soberano but warns vs. ties with Gabriela

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A military official has warned actress Liza Soberano against associating with Gabriela Women’s Party for its alleged links to the New People’s Army (NPA).

In a statement Wednesday night, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) chief Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. said it is not fair to red-tag Soberano as “she is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights.”

Parlade said Soberano should be protected in the exercise of her rights and that she is “not yet” a member of the NPA.

However, Parlade pointed out that she and other celebrities should be educated on the “hidden violent agenda” of the Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA).

MAKIBAKA is an underground mass organization hiding under Gabriela Women’s Party, according to the military official.

“Let us not red-tag Liza Soberano. It’s not fair to her. She is merely supporting advocacy for women’s rights. She has to be protected in the exercise of her rights,” he said in a statement posted on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) Facebook account.

“Is she an NPA? No, of course not. Not yet. So let’s help educate her and the other celebrity targets of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), the Underground Mass Organization hiding under Gabriela Women’s Party,” he added.

Parlade also advised the actress to stop supporting Gabriela.

“Liza Soberano, there’ s still a chance to abdicate that group. If you don’t, you will suffer the same fate as Josephine Anne Lapira @ELLA, former Deputy Secretary General of Gabriela Youth of UP, Manila and defender of women’s rights, even against sexual predators amongst her comrades in the NPA unit she joined which is clearly stated in her handwritten letter addressed to a certain @EMIL,” he said.

The AFP official also issued the same warning to Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and told them not the follow the path of a certain Ka Ella Colmenares.

“The choice is yours Liza. And so with you Catriona,” he said.

“I am sure Angel Locsin and Neri Colmenares will not tell you this,” he added.

In the same statement, Parlade also slammed the Gabriella party for not informing their recruits about their group’s agenda.

“So, Rep. Arlene Brosas and Gabriela, shame on you if you haven’t informed your recruits about your hidden violent agenda,” he said.

In response to the statement, Gabriela party-list Rep. Brosas criticized Parlade for red tagging and “mansplaining” Soberana.

“Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade’s appeal to stop red-tagging Liza Soberano is starkly ironic because he actually red tagged Soberano in his statement. By saying that Soberano is ‘not yet an NPA,’ he is maliciously associating the actress with the armed movement when what she did in the youth forum was to only speak up for all the victims of gender-based violence and abused,” she said in a statement.

“It is clear that Parlade, the NTF-ELCAC and the paid trolls are the ones who are rabidly red-tagging Liza Soberano and other female celebrities and influencers who are taking a stand and speaking out against the macho-facism under the Duterte regime. How come these macho-fascists have the audacity to mansplain strong women and lecture them on what to do? And why do they seem so afraid of women using their platform to defend other women?” she added.

The issue came after Soberano joined a Gabriela Youth online forum to discuss issues being faced by girls and women amid the pandemic.

“These rabid NTF-ELCAC executives are using their rehashed script to discredit Gabriela Women’s Party despite our long track record of advocating women’s rights. Our 20 years of advancing women and children’s rights inside and outside of Congress cannot be smeared by their repeated lies,” Brosas said.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Peralta wants probe on ambush of CamSur Judge

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has called on law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate and arrest those behind the attack on a Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court judge and her aide that left them injured.

“I strongly condemn the recent attack on Judge Jeaneth Gaminde-San Joaquin of Libmanan, Camarines Sur and her companion. I urge all law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are apprehended,” Peralta said in a statement posted on Twitter.  

“An attack on our judges is an assault on the Rule of Law. This has no place in a civilized society like ours,” he stressed.

An initial police report showed that Camarines Sur Regional Trial Court Branch 26 Judge San Joaquin and a member of her staff, Rocelle Martinez were aboard their vehicle going to Naga City when they were attack by two unidentified gunmen.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 20 in Barangay Puro Batia in Libmanan, Camarines Sur.

The two sustained injuries and were taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

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