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Allegedly red-tagged pastors file petition for writ of amparo

Pastors of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) on Monday filed for a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court due to the alleged red-tagging by members of the Philippine Army.

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 petitioners were Batangas UCCP pastors and couple Edwin Egar and Julieta Egar, as well as former Barangay Captain Ronald Ramos.

Named respondents included Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Philippine Army commander Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner, and 2nd Infantry Division commander Major General Roberto Capulong.

Also named respondents were 59th Infantry Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Teneza Jr., Sergeant Ronald Dalo, Sergeant John Granpil, Private First Class Borge Ebol, Roy Dela Peña, and Bong Samela, among others.

In the 62-page petition, the petitioners asked the High Court for a temporary protection order (TPO) that will prohibit the respondents from entering within a one-kilometer radius of their residence or work address.

The TPO will also prohibit respondents from directly or indirectly communicating with the petitioners.

Meanwhile, the petitioners also asked that they and their families would be protected by a private institution that is capable of securing their safety.

The petitioners also asked for a production order that will order the respondents or any who have items that contain evidence relevant to the petition to produce the evidence and permit their inspection on behalf of the petitioners.

“Ito po nilagay namin sa petition, mga 62 pages po ‘yun, meron po kaming mga ebidensya doon… Meron po doon video, mga opisyal at enlisted personnel ng 59th IB na umaaligid-aligid po sa kabahayan ng mga petitioners,” Atty. Gilbert Andres said in an ambush interview.

Andres also said that the petitioners had been threatened.

“Una po, meron pong mga pumupunta po na personnel ng 59th IB… pinapasuko po sila. They are being asked, they are being forced to surrender to the barangay… because they are allegedly supporting the New People’s Army,” he said.

(First, some personnel of the 59th IB asked them to surrender. They are being asked, they are being forced to surrender to the barangay… because they are allegedly supporting the New People’s Army.)

“Although kung tanungin naman po ang 59th IB kung meron po silang mga ebidensya, wala naman po silang mabibigay na ebidensya,” he added.

(Although, if the 59th IB is asked if they have evidence, they are  unable to provide evidence.)

Andres said the soldiers allegedly repeatedly returned to the couple to tell them that they are part of a “list.”

“There’s a so-called list. What that is, we do not know. But it seems that it is being used as a justification to do these acts of harassment,” Andres said.

Andres also alleged that Ramos had been threatened with an operation similar to Bloody Sunday - a March 2021 operation in which authorities served search warrants and several activists were killed.

“Lastly, there’ve also these text messages that... ex-barangay captain Ronald Ramos actually received. And these text messages actually warned him that there would be a military-police operation like the Bloody Sunday military operation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the petitioners also asked the Supreme Court to order the military's chain of command to investigate all the respondent officers and enlisted personnel of the infantry division.

It also urged the Court to order the respondents' chain of command to reassign the respondents to locations outside Batangas Province.

Sought for their reaction, AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar said, "We cannot comment on it yet." — DVM, GMA Integrated News