Appeals court junks father's plea to release activist Alexa Pacalda
In this photo taken September 23, rights groups call for the release of human rights worker Alexa Pacalda as her father and her legal counsel file habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Court.
Karapatan/released via Twitter
Appeals court junks father's plea to release activist Alexa Pacalda
Kristine Joy Patag ( - November 19, 2019 - 3:57pm

MANILA, Philippines —  The Court of Appeals has junked the bid of activist Alexandrea Pacalda’s father to free his daughter from detention for being moot.

Arnulfo sought the issuance of the writ to compel the Philippine Army to release Alexandrea, who was arrested without warrant in Gen. Luna, Quezon on September 14.

The appeals court’s Third Division rejected the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Arnulfo Pacalda filed on behalf of Alexandrea, who was detained for nine days without being charged.

The CA held that the petition is rendered moot and academic due to the subsequent charges filed against Alexandrea.

The father said that he and Alexandrea were forced to sign, under duress, a report that the activist has surrendered to authorities.

On September 23, or nine days after the arrest, charges for illegal possession of firearms and ammuniaions and illegal possession of explosives were filed against Alexandrea.

Arnulfo argued that the filing of case against his daughter was a mere “afterthought” and said that Alexandrea’s detention beyond the period allowed by law was illegal and violated her constitutional rights.

RELATED: NUPL laments loss of 'legal remedy' to protect them vs perceived state harassment

Charges filed render plea moot

The CA, in weighing on the case, said that Section 4 of Rule 102 of the Rules of Court held that if the person seeking release is “under process issued by a court or judge,” the writ of habeas corpus or discharge is disallowed.

The rule also states that a person charged with or convicted of an offense, or suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment cannot be discharged.

The appeals court noted that two charges have been filed against Alexandrea and a Quezon court also issued a commitment order for her detention at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Lucena City.

“Thus, pursuant to the last sentence of Section 4 of the cite Rule, Alexandrea cannot be discharged, owing to her indictment for the two criminal offenses,” the ruling, penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig, read.

The court added: “Even if the arrest of a person is illegal, supervening events may bar his release or discharge from custody.”

The filing of a complaint or information is one of the “supervening events” noted in court jurisprudence.

“In fine, the Petition praying for the release of Alexandrea from detention loses legal mooring, and is rendered moot and academic by the subsequent Informations filed against her before the RTC-Branch 96 of Catanuan, Quezon,” the court held.

Associate Justices Japar Dimaamapo and Edwin Sorongon concurred with the ruling.

Earlier this year, rights groups including Karapatan and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers sought protection writ from the appeals court amid perceived state harrassment, but both lost their cases.

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