Junking of Reds-linked groups' plea vs. PH gov't a win for rule of law

By Priam Nepomuceno

April 25, 2024, 11:15 am

MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) welcomed the Supreme Court's (SC) decision junking various petitions filed by communist front groups against former and current officials of the Philippine government.

In a statement Wednesday night, NTF-ELCAC executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. called the ruling a "significant legal victory", which proves the judiciary's unwavering commitment to justice and fairness.

"The decision serves as a vindication for the Philippine Government and its law enforcers who have faced baseless allegations of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances," Torres said.

“This a resounding victory for the rule of law,” he added.

In its April 18 decision, the SC upheld the Court of Appeals's decision dated June 28, 2019 junking the petition for writs of amparo and habeas data against former president Rodrigo Duterte and other officials making up the NTF-ELCAC.

Besides Duterte, the other respondents in the petition are then Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, then National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., former presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, former Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat Undersecretary Severo Catura, former Armed Forces of the Philippines Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations, Maj. Gen Antonio Parlade Jr., former Presidential Task Force on Media and Security executive director Joel Sy Egco and other ranking military and police officials.

The petitioners, including the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Inc. and the General Assembly of Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action (Gabriela), aimed to establish accountability for Duterte, as commander-in-chief, under the doctrine of command responsibility.

The SC, in its ruling, said the petitioners failed to "sufficiently demonstrate any reversible error by the Court of Appeals that would warrant the exercise of this court's discretionary appellate jurisdiction".

The court also stressed that the issuance of writs of amparo and habeas data requires concrete grounds and clarified the President's immunity from suit in this context.

SC Division Clerk of Court Ma. Theresa B. Sibulo officially notified the anti-insurgency body's Legal Cooperation Cluster (LCC) about the decision last March 14.

Torres stressed that the NTF-ELCAC remains steadfast in upholding the rule of law and ensuring the safety and well-being of all Filipinos. (PNA)