THE SUPREME COURT issued writs of amparo and habeas data in favor of Karapatan, Gabriela and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines last May 24. As per the writs, state agencies are obliged to cease from persecuting the groups until accusations against the latter are proved and justified.
The petition was filed by the said groups after being subjected to continuous attacks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which tagged them as “front organizations” of the CPP. The groups asserted that the successive killings, filing of trumped-up charges, harassment and intimidation against their members are a result AFP’s Red-tagging campaign.
A writ of amparo is a protection order issued by the Supreme Court for groups being persecuted by the state. A writ of habeas data, on the other hand, obligates state agencies to turn over and destroy all information of the military and police against the groups.
This is a slap on the face of the AFP. However, the final order is yet to be issued by the court after hearing the petition. The first hearing will be held on June 18.
This Supreme Court ruling for a writ of amparo and habeas data is the second for the month of May. On May 3, it also favored the petition of the National Union of People’s Lawyers. AFP representative did not show up at the Court of Appeals hearing of the petition last June 6.
Meanwhile, the Lower House passed a bill that will give protection to human rights defenders on its third reading last June 6.. One hundred eighty-three voted in favor of the bill.
Representative of the Makabayan bloc and Rep. Edcel Lagman stood as the proponents of the bill. It will enforce the protection of human rights defenders against harassment and rights violations. If enacted, a Human Rights Defenders Protection Committee will be constituted and spearheaded by the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and six other members that will be nominated by the organization.
Karapatan recorded 697 cases of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders from 2001 to 2018.