Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers.

In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon.

The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them.

The CA ruling said respondents led by AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang should produce the information the military has gathered about Salucon, including records, photographs and dossiers, for destruction.

Chief Superintendent Miguel de Mayo Laurel, acting director of Police Regional Office 2; Gen. Hernando Irriberi, commanding general of the Philippine Army; and Gen. Eduardo Año, commanding officer of the Intelligence Services of the AFP were the other respondents.

“Petitioner was able to prove… she was subjected to surveillance operations and harassment by individuals working under the command of the respondents,” the ruling penned by Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid stated.

The CA also cited the AFP’s failure to “exert greater effort” to verify Salucon’s allegations.

In her petition, Salucon said the military has put her under surveillance and labeled her as a “red lawyer” for representing political prisoners suspected to be members of the New People’s Army.

A member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer based in Isabela, she cited instances of military men casing her and asking about her activities.  

Salucon’s counsel, Ephraim Cortez, said his client’s paralegal, William Bugatti, was killed on the day he informed her she needed additional security measures.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ASSOCIATE JUSTICE HAKIM ABDULWAHID CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT MIGUEL COURT OF APPEALS EDUARDO A EPHRAIM CORTEZ GREGORIO PIO CATAPANG HERNANDO IRRIBERI INTELLIGENCE SERVICES SALUCON
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