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NUPL’s amparo suit up for Court of Appeals decision

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers' (NUPL) petition for a writ of amparo is up for decision by the Court of Appeals (CA).

The Special 15th Division is expected to resolve the union's petition within 10 days, said NUPL president Edre Olalia, after government lawyers declared they will not present evidence to refute the NUPL's allegations of state-perpetrated threats and attacks against its lawyer-members. 

Olalia said the court admitted all the evidence they presented despite the objection of lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) who represent President Rodrigo Duterte and the military officials named as respondents in the petition.

The last two witnesses the NUPL presented were its chairperson, Neri Colmenares, and NUPL Panay chapter president Rene Estocapio, said Olalia.

The NUPL has sought a writ of amparo in pursuit of legal protection for its members against attacks -- killings, false links to communist rebels, surveillance, harassment -- allegedly perpetrated by state forces.

The writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is threatened or violated by public officials or private persons. The writ covers extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.

Acting on the NUPL's petition, the Supreme Court issued a writ, essentially ordering the government to respond to the allegations, and directed the CA to hear and decide the case. The CA held four hearings from May to July, none of which any of the respondent-generals attended.

However, while the amparo suit remains pending, the CA has recently denied the NUPL's application for a temporary protection order that would have prohibited the respondent military officials from threatening and harassing its members.

In seeking the dismissal of the NUPL's petition, the OSG had argued that the petitioners failed to specify particular illegal acts or threats that were performed by the respondents themselves.

The NUPL contended it was standing on the principle of command responsibility.

Duterte—as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)—National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP chief General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., AFP Deputy Commander for Intelligence Brigadier General Fernando Trinidad, AFP Intelligence Service Chief Major General Erwin Bernard Neri, Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, and AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Major General Antonio Parlade were named as respondents in the NUPL's petition. — RSJ, GMA News