CA upholds lawyer’s plea to probe AFP surveillance

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its ruling last March ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate the alleged surveillance of a human rights lawyer who represents alleged New People’s Army rebels.

In a seven-page resolution promulgated on Dec. 2, the CA’s special former special sixth division denied the appeal filed by respondents led by AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang.

The CA instead stood by its ruling, which granted the writ of amparo and habeas data petition of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon and ordered the AFP to identify its officers behind the surveillance on her and file appropriate charges, as well as produce before the court all information that the military has gathered about the lawyer – including records, photographs and dossiers – for possible destruction.

The court stressed that Salucon was able to prove by substantial evidence her allegation that she has been “subjected to surveillance operations and harassment by individuals working under the command of the respondents.”

Associate Justice Romeo Barza, who penned the ruling, said these acts “may be interpreted as preliminary steps to the possible extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance of the petitioner.”

Associate Justices Magdangal de Leon and Zenaida Galapate Laguilles concurred in this ruling.

Salucon’s counsel Ephraim Cortez added that Salucon’s paralegal, William Bugatti, was killed the same day he informed her that she needed additional security measures for her protection.

ACIRC ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ROMEO BARZA ASSOCIATE JUSTICES MAGDANGAL COURT OF APPEALS EPHRAIM CORTEZ GREGORIO PIO CATAPANG LEON AND ZENAIDA GALAPATE LAGUILLES MARIA CATHERINE DANNUG-SALUCON NEW PEOPLE SALUCON
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