Arroyo’s lawyers argued in their motion that the complaint is a suit against the state, saying it was just incidental that Arroyo was the incumbent president during the period when the alleged losses or injury were sustained.
In a recent decision, the local court handling the UCCP damage suit junked Arroyo’s motion to dismiss, citing sufficient cause of action.
Judge Tita Marilyn Payoyo-Villordon of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 224 said that “a judicious scrutiny of the entire complaint as well as the annexes only reveals that there appears to have been a violation of the complainants’s constitutional rights which may or may not sustain Arroyo’s civil liability after the proper determination of the veracity of said defendant’s acts or omission in this regard.”
The court said it is not convinced that the complaint is a suit against the state. Villordon cited Vital-Gozon v. Court of Appeals which states that a public official may be made to pay for damages for performing a perfectly legal act. The court ordered Arroyo to file an answer to the UCCP complaint.
“We thank God for the court order of Honorable Judge Tita Marilyn Payoyo-Villordon that compels Gloria Arroyo to answer our complaint that she played a role in human rights violations. We want the opportunity to present our case in court. Victims of human rights violations and their families have endured immeasurable pain, hardship and loss. Our faith compels us to stand with them in this fight for justice and accountability,” Marigza said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Oliva said Arroyo filed a reply to their comment on Arroyo’s motion to dismiss the Morong 43 suit. Oliva said the motion is deemed for resolution and expressed confidence that Arroyo’s motion would be dismissed.
“The culture of impunity in the Philippines must end. Extra-judicial killings of respected pastors and church leaders, most of whom were speaking against injustice in our country, show how horrible and unacceptable the human rights situation in our nation has been. The UCCP filed this case in pursuit of justice for the families of human rights violations. We intend to do our part to end impunity by holding Gloria Arroyo accountable,” Marigza said.
Karapatan chairwoman Marie Hilao-Enriquez has repeatedly criticized Aquino for not filing any charges against Arroyo in relation to human rights violations. She said that Aquino’s inaction compelled the victims themselves to file the cases.
“They could have investigated the cases, with more than 1,000 victims of extrajudicial killings and more than 200 disappeared. Talk about the Truth Commission. After it was blocked by the Supreme Court, they stopped there. There are other mechanisms to ferret out the truth,” Marigza said.
The Church leader said the arrest of Palparan “would have shown that this administration is exerting efforts in addressing human rights violations.” “But it has not resulted to anything concrete. How serious is the Aquino administration in going after the perpetrators?” Marigza said.
Palparan was charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan. Three months after the issuance of the warrant of arrest, Palparan and another accused, Rizal Hilario, remain at large.
Hilao-Enriquez said the continued freedom of both Arroyo and Palparan means that the Aquino government condones their crimes against the people.
Marigza said Aquino is treating Arroyo with a kid’s gloves. “They [Arroyo and Aquino] belong to the same elite class. The tendency is to run after your political enemies but you don’t hit them too far because if you get back in power, they would not hit strongly at you.”
As extrajudicial killings continue under the Aquino administration’s Oplan Bayanihan, with already 67 victims, according to Karapatan, Emma strives to live a life without Pastor Edison. She now works at a hospital in their province.
“Until now, when I think about it, it is as though the world would shatter,” Emma said. “Even if it takes long, I will fight for justice.”