Tag Archive: Supreme Court

by Renato G. Mabunga

(This article has been presented by the author to the delegates of the 6th Asian Human Rights Defenders Forum (6th AHRDF) held in Quezon City, Philippines on 3-5 December 2014)


Though use inter-changeably and oftentimes carries the same meaning, intent and even connotation, there is a THIN LINE DISTINCTION between Security of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and the Protection of Human Rights Workers.

Coming from an Organization Development (OD) perspective: Security of HRD speaks more of the assessment of the Slide2internal realities of individual defenders and their organizations vis-à-vis their actual experience and perceptions in the conduct of doing human rights work. It is an evaluation of perceived risks and threats that directly impacts on one’s personal commitment (to the cause of human rights), involvement (to organizations), and sustainability of seeing through some changes in the external situation. It also defines the degree of threshold for organization indicating critical shift or change in the conduct of operation – from a normal, acceptable level of usual activities to conscious weighing of the impact and dangers of particular action to the lives of the implementers and/or the target communities.

Protection of HRDs, on the other hand, is a response or measures derived from the assessment of risks and threats. This could either be personal or at the individual level, or organizational. And, may take the form of internal policies of the organization or personal disciplinary measures and precautions of individual HRDs. All of which are aimed at lessening risks and threats. Continue reading

Press Conference: CHR human rights protector or violator?

Press Conference: CHR human rights protector or violator?

By Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)[1]

I.          General Overview

President Benigno Aquino III considered 2012 a year of continued resurgence of the economy bolstered with increased confidence in good governance. He took pride in the dramatic leaps the country has taken in the global competitive index of the World Economic Forum; the unprecedented attainment of investment-grade status from the most respected credit ratings agencies in the world; and the astounding 6.8 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2012.[2]

Amidst this enthusiasm, cases of extra-judicial killings (EJK), enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests as well as other political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights violations increase halfway into the Aquino administration. What becomes alarming “is the growing number of threats and killings of rights defenders” as observed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, and on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns.[3]

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By Dr. Renato G. Mabunga

Guaranteed right and freedom of speech and expression has experienced “black Tuesday” on the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels in the Philippines.  This happened amid the mounting protest against the newly enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or the Republic Act 10175.  This draconian legislation rightly infringes on the Bill of Rights under the Philippine 1987 Constitution; criminalizes netizens’ participation for good governance; and, does away with the concepts of freedom and justice within the moral bounds and teachings of great religions.  Even guardian angels would on Tuesday dare up doubling efforts prodding their charges on impending deluge brought about by this cybercrime law.

The world in general adheres to the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  The Philippines guarantees such right saying, no laws shall be passed abridging it including that of the press and the rights of the people to petition the government for redress and grievances.  This includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

On 5th July this year the United NationsHuman Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously approved a resolution that internet access and online freedom of expression is a basic human rights.  It declares that all people be allowed to connect to and express themselves freely on the Internet.

The Philippines, a third-term member of the Council, has just turned against the resolution when it signed its country’s cybercrime law on 12th September penalizing anyone from 4 to 12 year imprisonment or a fine of up to 1 million pesos if found violating the provisions of the law or posting defamatory comments on social networking sites such as facebook, tweeter and blogs.  It views online expressions as threats to government power rather than a tool in realizing power for the people and a unique platform in combating inequality, protection and fulfillment of a wide-range of human rights.  Insertions of provisions tantamount to censorship and ground for wanton abuse are contraventions of their avowed commitment to the international laws on human rights.  As the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression opined, the priority of governments should be the facilitation of Internet access for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible.

Today, legislators are scrambling for alibis as Filipino internet users warned of a Martial Law online.  They are carrying silent protests, blackening out their internet profiles, doing offline activities, petitioning the Supreme Court and marching in protest for the repeal of the just enacted cybercrime law for its unconstitutionality.  Guardian angels have a hand on it?  Maybe netizens post as “guardian angels” to other citizens. 

NEWS UPDATES: Tulawie Case


NEWS UPDATES: Tulawie Case

18 January 2012



 On 13 January 2012, 11:45 in the evening, Mr. Temogen Tulawie was arrested in front of his children by combined elements of Military Intelligence Group (MIG)-Region 9 led by Sgt. Reyes, members of Special Action Force (SAF) headed by Supt. Fernando Ortega and members of Police Regional Intelligence Group-Region 11 based in Davao City at his residence in Catalunan Grande, Davao City.

 He was then taken to Talomo Police station for Police blotter and to Davao Regional Hospital for medical check-up. Afterwards, he was brought to Camp Catitipan, Davao City at the office of the Intelligence division for proper documentation.  He was temporarily detained at Davao City Police Office in Camp Domingo Leonor, Davao City.

 On 16 January 2012 he was presented to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City where a letter from Judge Betlee-lan Barraquias, (Executive and Presiding Judge of Jolo, Sulu Regional Trial Court Branch 3) to the Executive Judge of Davao City was read ordering the transfer of Mr. Tulawie back in Jolo.  A clear defiance to the Supreme Court Order dated 13 June 2011.  Portion of the letter reads:

 ”We wish to most respectfully inform your end that the bearers, Mr. Jun M. Abbas and Mr. Perfecto Canas, Jr. are Sheriff/process server and personnel of the Regional Trial Court of Jolo, Sulu, to serve within your jurisdiction in Davao City the order of this court to P/Supt. Michael Dubria, Chief Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division, Police Regional office 11, Camp Catitipan, Davao City, to deliver/transfer the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Jolo, Sulu, in criminal cases no. (07-09) 1648-3 and (07-09) 1649-3.”

 It orders those who have the custody of Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie to dispose of the accused to the Regional Trial Court-Branch 3, Jolo, Sulu, “within the period of forty eight hours upon the receipt of this order taking the necessary security measures to ensure the safety of the prisoner during the transfer from Davao City to Jolo, Sulu, and to prevent his escape while under his or their custody to be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

 On 17 January 2012 in the afternoon, Mr. Tulawie was flown by the law enforcers to Zamboanga City and detained at Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)- Region 9.  On the same day, the Office of the Court Administrator, Supreme Court of the Philippines through Deputy Court Administrator Raul Bautista Villanueva sent an order for immediate action saying:

 “Please be advised that said order of Judge Barraquias is contrary to the Resolution dated June 13,2011 issued by the Third Division of the Supreme Court wherein the transfer of venue of Criminal Case Nos. (07-09) 1648-3 and (07-09) 1649-3, both involving Mr. Tulawie, was decreed to be held at the Regional Trial Court of Davao City. Likewise, be advised that the Motion for Reconsideration of the above Resolution had already been acted upon and this has apparently been DENIED. Thus, with more reason that Judge Barraquias has no authority to issue his supposed order.

 As such, you are hereby directed to inform the police or jail custodians of Mr. Tulawie that any order contrary to the Resolution dated 13 June 2011 of the Third Division of the Supreme Court cannot be implemented.”

 It must be known that in October 2011, Hon. Judge Barraquias certified the warrant of arrest previously issued by Judge Leo J T. Principe on Tulawie’s case.  His action signified that the warrant is still enforceable even as the Supreme Court so order for the transfer of the case to the Regional Trial Court of Davao City.

 As of this writing, 5:00 in the afternoon 18 January 2012, Mr. Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie has safety arrived in Davao City and now in the custody of  Davao City Police Office in Camp Domingo Leonor, Davao City.

 Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas reiterates its calls: 

  1. To RTC Branch 3 of Jolo, Sulu to immediately transfer Tulawie’s Case Records to RTC Davao in compliance with the Supreme Court of the Phippines’ Order/Decision.
  2. To RTC Davao City to ensure a fair, impartial and speedy disposition of the case.  Take all necessary measures to ensure that the trial of Temogen Tulawie follows fair procedure and complies with national and international standards;
  3. To all concerned government agencies particularly the Military and the Police to guarantee the full protection and respect for human rights to Mr. Tulawie, as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.  Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Temogen Tulawie while in detention;
  4. Immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Temogen Tulawie, and drop all charges against him as it is believed that they are solely related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;
  5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Philippines are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

For the background of the case, please click the link:


Photo by the Medical Action Group (MAG)

by Hon. Jose Midas P. Marquez
Court Administrator
Chief, Public Information Office

(Note from the Blogger:  This article was delivered  by the author at the Media Launch of the Medical Action Group Project at the Citrine Emerald Room Function Hall, Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Manila on 06 August 2011.  It is uploaded in this page as a possible mechanism for the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).)

A pleasant morning to everyone.
Last December 2008, I spoke before your organization on the importance of medical documentation in relation to the case of the Manalo brothers, which is the first decision of the Supreme Court on the application of the Writ of Amparo, an extraordinary remedy promulgated by the Court available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated, or threatened with violation. Today, barely three years after, I am proud to say that the Supreme Court has not wavered in its quest in protecting and defending human rights, and has consistently issued resolutions which can be considered as triumphs in such mission.

The plight of missing political activist Jonas Joseph T. Burgos falls under this mission.  It was on 28 April 2007 when Jonas was abducted by several unidentified men while he was eating lunch at a restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. Eyewitnesses, including the restaurant’s employees, claim that Jonas was dragged into a van whose license plates were later traced to another vehicle impounded by the military in Bulacan. Up to now, the whereabouts of Jonas are unknown. Just last month, however the Court ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to produce Jonas, and to show cause why he should not be released from detention.[1]

Two months ago, the Court also ordered the AFP to release University of the Philippines (UP) student activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, and farmer Manuel Merino, who have been missing for nearly five years and were allegedly abducted by armed men, and said that retired General Jovito Palparan and five others “appear responsible and accountable” for their disappearance.[2] The High Tribunal emphasized its order by putting the words “immediate release” in capital letters in its ruling.

The High Court added that its decision is final and executory, and thus, there is no need to file any motion for the execution of its decision. The Court said that “since the right to life, liberty and security of a person is at stake, the proceedings should not be delayed and execution of any decision thereon must be expedited as soon as possible since any form of delay even for a day may jeopardize the very rights that these writs seek to immediately protect.”

And late last year, the High Court ordered the CHR to conduct further investigation on Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas’s alleged abduction and torture by the military in 1999. Roxas alleged that she and companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc were resting in the house of one Mr. Jesus Paolo in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac when 15 heavily armed men barged in, ganged them up, blindfolded, and dragged them to a waiting van. She claimed that she was later taken to the military camp of Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija where she was allegedly interrogated and tortured on suspicion of being a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

In this case of Roxas v. Arroyo,[3] the Court specifically tasked the CHR to identify the persons described in the cartographic sketches submitted by Roxas as well as their whereabouts, and to pursue any other leads relevant to her abduction and torture.

The Roxas case likewise brings me to another equally consequential point, and that is the importance of effective medical documentation in successfully prosecuting amparo cases, and other cases against violations of human rights. One of the documentary exhibits admitted in this case is the medical certificate of Roxas, which was executed right after she was freed.

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