OSG asks SC to review, recall protection writs granted to green activists

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
OSG asks SC to review, recall protection writs granted to green activists
This photo shows a picture of environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro after posting bail at Doña Remedios Trinidad Municipal Trial Court in Bulacan.
Tinay Palabay / Karapatan

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has requested the Supreme Court (SC) to clarify the amparo and habeas data writs and to withdraw the temporary protection order (TPO) given to environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro.

The two activists, who were abducted in September 2023, received an arrest warrant on Tuesday, facing charges of oral defamation.

In an urgent motion filed by the OSG before the SC, it said that the TPO prevents the law enforcement from executing the warrant of arrest for Tamano and Castro.

“A literal interpretation of the TPO ostensibly restricts all Philippine National Police personnel from accessing areas within a one-kilometer radius of the Petitioners and their families,” the OSG’s motion read.

“In addition, TPO has the effect of not being able to implement the Warrant of Arrest 21 against the Petitioners. This place the law enforcers in the precarious situation of defying one judicial order in deference to another judicial order,” it added. 

A temporary protection order stipulates that law enforcers and government officials are prohibited from entering a one-kilometer radius from the places of residence or locations of individuals who were issued a TPO.

The SC granted the protection writs and the TPO to Tamano and Castro as “there was an established violation to the life, liberty, or security” present to them.

The OSG also assailed the writ of amparo and habeas data granted by the SC, suggesting that they preempt the Court of Appeals' (CA) assessment of the sufficiency of evidence regarding the environmental activists.

“The Honorable Court's initial determination that the Petitioners' evidence surpasses the threshold of substantial evidence, before the conduct of the summary hearing, inevitably undermines the Court of Appeals' independent assessment of the sufficiency of evidence in its determination of the propriety of granting the privilege of the writs,” the OSG’s motion read.

As of writing, the Doña Remedios Trinidad Municipal Trial Court in Bulacan, which served the warrant of arrest for Tamano and Castro, ordered the release of the environmental activists after the pair posted a bail amounting to P18,000 each.

After the reported abduction of environmental activists in Bataan in September 2023, they reappeared weeks later, presented by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in a press conference as "rebel returnees."

However, the two diverged from the planned script and accused the military of abducting them, contradicting the government's assertion that they had surrendered voluntarily.

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