By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The Court of Appeals Former Special 15th Division dismissed the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) for alleged lack of evidence.
In a 27-page decision penned by Associate Justice Pedro B. Corales, the appellate court said the petitioners presented “no substantial evidence of alleged violations, or threats of violations of rights to life, liberty, and security.”
The court said there is “no evidence that the numerous lawyers purportedly attacked, threatened, or killed in recent years precisely because they were NUPL members.”
The court also dismissed the petition for habeas data, saying that the petitioners failed to show how their right to privacy was violated. The court argued that the petitioners’ names, membership and particular position in or affiliation with NUPL, their photographs and even the locations of their offices are already public knowledge and readily accessible even to civilians.
The decision became public a few days after another human rights lawyer, Anthony Trinidad, was shot dead in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental. Like Benajmin Ramos, Trinidad was also linked with the communists before he was gunned down.
In a statement, the NUPL said the decision is not really surprising nor unexpected. “It only strengthens impressions that amparo as a legal remedy has time and time again failed expectations of victims for immediate and judicial protection,” the group said.
“How many more lawyers and human rights defenders need to be killed, vilified, harassed, threatened and labelled before the dots are connected?” the NUPL asked.
The NUPL said there have been 40 members of the legal profession, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers killed since President Duterte took office in 2016.
The CA said “the mere commonality of organizations named in the leaflets assailed by [Cagayan de Oro City-based Czarina] Atty. Musni and those supposedly mentioned by Maj. Gen. Parlade does not by itself prove the respondents’ involvement in the alleged threats as theorised by the petitioners.”
Parlade has repeatedly labeled the NUPL as communist front and accused the organization of committing terrorist activities.
Musni, one of the individual petitioners, testified before the court that she, her mother Beverly Musni and her sister Beverly YR Musni, were red tagged by suspected state agents.
The court said the petitioners failed to prove the respondents’ participation in the distribution of the flyers, posters and other materials linking the NUPL with communists.
The NUPL said the decision “also reinforces the studied view that domestic remedies for redress of rights violations are by and large ineffective and unavailing especially under the present political situation.”
Last month, the CA 14th Division also junked the petitions filed by Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and Gabriela.