CA orders Esperon to prove Luz not under surveillance
Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - April 14, 2008 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon to clarify if business executive Guillermo Luz is the subject of a military surveillance operation.

The CA issued the order after the Supreme Court allowed the petition of Luz for the issuance of writ of habeas data.

Luz, former president of the Makati Business Club (MBC), filed the petition in claiming he was put under surveillance by the AFP on suspicions of financing destabilization efforts against President Arroyo.

The Supreme Court then directed the CA to hear Luz’s petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data, which under the law, is a legal remedy resorted by any person whose rights are being violated, or threatened by the gathering of information by the government, or any of its officials, or a private individual or entity.

The rule on the writ of habeas data took effect last Feb. 2.

Luz said he was prompted to file the petition to make sure if he is included by the AFP in its list of suspected destabilizers.

Luz had been critical of Mrs. Arroyo but denied financing any coup plots.

Luz claimed he only gathered the allegations against him in the newspapers which quoted supposed intelligence sources in the military.

Luz said he inquired with Esperon who, however, did not give a categorical answer.

Luz claimed he later received a letter from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) stating that he was not placed under surveillance.

He said he still decided to file the petition because of persistent newspaper reports, quoting military intelligence sources, tagging him as among the financiers of destabilization efforts.

“The AFP has not denied publicly that I am involved, that is why I am pursuing this case using the writ of habeas data. I want to know if I am really under surveillance, and if I am, on what basis,” Luz said.

“If there is no basis, then they should make it clear that I am not being monitored, because this is very disconcerting to me,” he told reporters.

Luz claimed he learned that he had been under surveillance since the Nov. 29, 2007 standoff at the Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City, where he was allegedly seen talking to former Vice President Teofisto Guingona and Infanta, Quezon Bishop Emeritus Julio Labayen, two civilians implicated in the standoff.

In his petition, Luz said he had the “right to be left alone” and that any ongoing case buildup against him be stopped.

The CA directed Esperon to submit a certification denying any intelligence gathering operation on Luz.

Esperon denied Luz’s allegation of a military surveillance operation, saying the claims were made only in newspaper reports which are considered hearsay evidence.

“It is therefore clear that whatever threat to life, liberty and security petitioner seeks protection against is at best speculative or imagined. Petitioner’s reliance on hearsay evidence renders his petition fatally defective on its face and therefore dismissible,” Esperon said.

He said Luz had failed to specify other facts related to the petition.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES COURT OF APPEALS ESPERON GUILLERMO LUZ HERMOGENES ESPERON LUZ PETITION SUPREME COURT
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