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Supreme Court grants amparo petition filed by Gadian sister

- Edu Punay -

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court has granted the petition seeking the protection and security of embattled Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian, the Navy officer who exposed alleged irregularities in the disbursement of military funds during the 2007 Balikatan exercises.

In a two-page writ of amparo authorized by Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the High Court ordered the Court of Appeals to hear the petition of Gadian’s older sister, Nedina Diamante, seeking issuance of a temporary restraining order directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “to refrain from issuing or carrying out any threat to the life, liberty and security” of her sister.

The SC directed the CA to set the hearing at 10 a.m. on May 28 and issue a ruling on the petition within 10 days.

The SC also ordered respondents – Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado; Navy flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez; Western Mindanao Command chief Col. Joel Ibañez; management and financial officer Lt. Col. Antonio Dacanay, and retired general Eugenio Cedo – to comment on the petition before the hearing.

The writ was issued two days after the petition was filed last Tuesday when the High Court was in recess.

The Court is set to resume regular sessions on June 1 for the divisions and June 2 for the en banc session.

Through lawyer Harry Roque, Diamante filed the eight-page petition urging the high court to protect Gadian from threats from military officials she had implicated in the fund scam exposé.

Roque said the threats were meant to intimidate and prevent Gadian from revealing further anomalies on the misuse of Balikatan funds.

Diamante said the threats forced her sister to go into hiding.

According to Diamante, she received a text message from Gadian last Saturday claiming a supposed “shoot-to-kill” order on her.

Diamante added unidentified men began loitering around their house in La Paz, Iloilo City since last week.

She said someone knocked on her door and warned of the alleged surveillance activities by the military.

A former barangay official sought the help of Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, informing him of the plight of Gadian’s sister and relatives.

Lagdameo also noted that Gadian is under pressure from the military to submit for custody in an apparent attempt to silence her from revealing additional details of her exposé before the public.

On Wednesday, the AFP ordered Gadian to report back for duty within 24 hours or face arrest and dishonorable dismissal.

Malacañang also urged Gadian to submit herself for investigation.

Gadian is facing the Navy’s Summary Efficiency Board (ESB) on charges of insubordination and desertion.

Her superior, retired Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, had ordered Gadian to account for the missing P2.3-million Balikatan funds released to her to finance the 2007 Balikatan’s civil-military projects in Western Mindanao.

Gadian served as civil military relations officer under Cedo during the Balikatan exercises in Mindanao.

Gadian, however, accused Cedo, among other officials, of pocketing part of the P46 million allotted for the joint military exercises. Cedo has since denied Gadian’s claims.

The AFP said Gadian went AWOL when the controversy broke out and has since been dropped from the rolls for failing to report back to duty after her vacation lapsed last April 21.

Diamante, however, explained her sister was on official leave from March 9 to April 21 and later filed her resignation from service last May 1.

Arevalo though maintained Gadian should go through the process even though she has resigned from the service.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said the AFP has taken cognizance of the allegations made by Gadian and will give her the chance to explain.

Arevalo said Gadian has to place herself under their custody so the investigation on her allegations can begin.

Malacañang renewed its call on Gadian to come out in the open and assured her safety.

“If she wants to spell out the truth, if she would want a more meaningful result in the investigation that is conducted by the DND (Department of Defense), then she must come out in the open,” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.

Golez assured Gadian of protection but only if she comes out in the open.

He said the fact that “this is a controversial issue, when she comes out all eyes will be focused on her.”

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr., for his part, declared his willingness to take Gadian into custody.

If Gadian is really concerned about her safety and that of her family, Teodoro said she can always present herself before the defense department.

“I will take custody of her if she really fears for her life,” Teodoro said.

He added Gadian could also seek protection from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

But while under the defense department, Teodoro said Gadian should substantiate her allegations of fund misuse.

He added Gadian could stay under the custody of the DND until a committee tasked to probe the alleged misuse of Balikatan funds has concluded its investigation.

“I don’t want to set a precedent but Gadian must substantiate her allegations and help our fact-finding panel to determine what really happened insofar as the Balikatan funds are concerned,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro has given the defense three-man fact-finding committee under Defense Undersecretary Alberto Valenzuela Jr. 15 days to complete their probe.

Teodoro also welcomed the Senate investigation into the issue. –With Jaime Laude, Paolo Romero, Dennis Carcamo

ANTHONY GOLEZ

ANTONIO DACANAY

AREVALO

ARMED FORCES

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

BALIKATAN

CEDO

EUGENIO CEDO

GADIAN

HIGH COURT

TEODORO

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