A petition for the writ of amparo has been filed in behalf of a former Marine who was recently included in a police and military “wanted” list even in the absence of charges against him. The petitioners, his wife and his mother, said his being thus included in the “wanted” list threatens his life, liberty, and security.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Vol. VIII, No. 3, February 17-23, 2008
A petition for a writ of amparo has been filed in behalf of a former Marine who was recently included in a police and military “wanted” list even in the absence of charges against him. The petitioners, his wife and his mother, said his being thus included in the “wanted” list threatens his life, liberty, and security.
Named as respondents in the petition are Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director Avelino Razon Jr., Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.
Before he was honorably discharged in 2005, Monchito O. Lusterio – in whose behalf the petition was filed Feb. 13 – had served the Philippine Marines for more than seven years. He was a multi-awarded soldier with a Gold Cross Medal for gallantry in action.
In 2003, Lusterio was among those charged with coup d’ etat before the Makati City Regional Trial Court, in connection with the Oakwood incident. However, the Department of Justice (DoJ), after conducting a preliminary investigation, dismissed the charge against him for lack of sufficient evidence. But the military charged him before a military court and he was detained for two years at Fort Bonifacio. Upon his release in May 2005, he was demoted from sergeant to private. Demoralized and unable to support his family with his meager pay, he applied for discharge and was honorably discharged in 2005.
For the past two years, he has been working as a security guard and personal bodyguard. On the side, to augment his meager income, he maintained a sideline making hammocks, bags, belts and cellphone pouches at the backyard of his home in Laguna. His mother Menchita, an ambulant vendor, would sell these at the pier in their hometown in Marinduque.
Following the Manila Peninsula incident of Nov. 29, 2007, police and military alleged that Lusterio was involved and he was included in their “wanted” list together with nine other soldiers and former soldiers.
Police and military released to media the photos of those in the “wanted” list, which also includes Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, who is now in hiding after escaping the police dragnet following the Manila Peninsula incident. Their pictures were also placed in “Wanted” posters all over the country.
Of the nine persons in the “wanted” list, only Faeldon is currently facing criminal charges. But all are described in the “Wanted” posters as “at large.”
“All of the foregoing acts of respondents have threatened and violated, and continue to threaten and violate, the right to life, liberty and security of Monchito and the others who are in the ‘wanted’ list and ‘Wanted’ poster,” said Ernesto Francisco, legal counsel for petitioners. “Their constitutional right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved and not to be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law are also being violated by respondents.”
“By forcing those in the ‘Wanted’ poster to go into hiding and run for their lives, respondents have also prevented them from earning an honest living to support themselves and their families,” Francisco also said. “In the case of Monchito, his wife, petitioner PO3 Emelyn P. Lusterio and their minor children are going through very serious financial hardship as a result. Thus, the acts of respondents are not only threatening the right to life, liberty and security of Monchito, they are also threatening the survival of the members of his family, as well and their individual constitutional right to life, liberty and security.” (Bulatlat.com)