By: Adolfo S. Azcuna Associate JusticeSupreme Court of the Philippines
Adolfo S. Azcuna Associate JusticeSupreme Court of the Philippines
The writ of Amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or is threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The word "Amparo" is a Spanish term which means "protection".
• On October 24, 2007, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo• took effect in the Philippines.• It was adopted by the Philippine Supreme Court pursuant to its power under the 1987 Constitution to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights.• The new rule covers the right to life, liberty and security in cases of extralegal killings, enforced disappearances or threats thereof.
• The remedy prescribed is unique and extraordinary and is given the same priority as habeas corpus.• Essentially, it provides the interim reliefs of Temporary Protection Order, Inspection Order, Production Order and Witness Protection Order, any or all of which may be made permanent in the judgment rendered after a summary hearing.
• So far, the remedy has resulted in a number of persons released from military custody although many others are still unaccounted for.• The number of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, however, which prompted the adoption of the remedy, has since gone down considerably.
• The first decision of the Philippine Supreme Court involving this new remedy is Secretary of National Defense, et al. v. Raymund Manalo and Reynaldo Manalo,4 penned by Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno.
• The case was an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals which granted respondent brothers the privilege of the writ of Amparo and ordered petitioners Secretary of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff to furnish respondents all official and unofficial reports of the investigation undertaken in connection with their case; to confirm in writing the present places of official assignment of two military personnel found involved in the matter investigated and to produce to the Court all medical reports, records, charts and reports of any treatment given or recommended and medicines prescribed to said respondents and the list of the attending medical personnel.
• Respondents Manalo brothers were abducted from their houses by armed men on February 14, 2006 and held in detention until they escaped on August 13, 2007. The Court sustained the findings on the adduction, detention, torture and escape of the respondents.
• In disposing of the appeal, the Supreme Court examined the right to life, liberty and security as recognized in the Philippine Constitution5 as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It held that the right to security of person is a guarantee of bodily and psychological integrity and security and that the right of security of person exists independently of the right to liberty. The Supreme Court also cited the European Court of Human Rights on its interpretation of the “right to security” as not only prohibiting the State from arbitrarily depriving liberty, but imposing a positive duty on the State to afford protection of the right to liberty.
• Applying these concepts, the Court then ruled that there was violation of the right to security as freedom from threat to respondents’ life, liberty and security and also a violation of the right to security as protection by the government. It then proceeded to rule that the reliefs granted were appropriate and relevant and thereby dismissed the petition.
• The Manalo ruling is truly a landmark in Philippine jurisprudence and the fact that it was a unanimous decision of the entire 15-member Court augurs well for the future of the new remedy of Amparo in the Philippines.