Writ of Amparo as a remedy vs. red-tagging

By Farah G. Decano


I HAVE just quoted Karl Marx in my last column. Knowing how reckless red-taggers are for the sole purpose of quieting activists, I thought to myself that I might have just placed myself at risk.

To my relief, the Supreme Court recently released a press  statement regarding the case of SIEGFRED DEDURO VS. MAJ. GEN. VINOYA G.R. 254753, July 4, 2023.  It  said that red-tagging can be a ground for the issuance of  a Writ of Amparo.

What is the Writ of Amparo?

In the 2008 case of SECRETARY  OF NATIONAL DEFENSE VS. MANALO589 Phil 1, when the Administrative Memorandum No.07-9-2 (Rules on the Writ of Amparo) was  newly promulgated, Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno described the writ as “a rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only substantial evidence to make appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is not an action to determine criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages requiring preponderance of evidence that will require full and exhaustive proceedings.”

The concept of the writ gained more clarity in the case of TABIAN, ET. AL. VS. CHRISTINA GONZALES, G.R 247211, August 01, 2022).  The Highest Court pronounced the writ as “a protective remedy aimed at providing judicial relief consisting of remedial measures and directives that may be crafted by the court, in order to address specific violations or threats of violation of constitutional rights to life, liberty, or security.”

The earlier mentioned Deduro case distinguished the difference between the issuance of the Writ of Amparo from the grant of the privilege of the Writ. The ponente,  Supreme Court Associate Justice  (SAJ) Rodil V. Zalameda, wrote that the Writ of Amparo is issued upon filing of the petition when the same is meritorious on its face alone, while the privilege of the Writ is granted after evaluation of the evidence thru a summary hearing.

The grounds for the issuance of the writ is found in Section 1 of the Rules of Court.  Paragraph 1 thereof specifies that the violation of a person’s right to life, liberty, and security or threats thereof through an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee shall give rise to the release of a writ.  Paragraph 2 of the same Section enumerates the instances for its issuance: “the Writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.”

In interpreting the phrase, “threats thereof,”  Justice Zalameda sought guidance from the case excellently written by SAJ Marvic Leonen in the case of ZARATE VS. AQUINO, G.R. 220028, NOVEMBER 10, 2015, to wit:

“Rather, Amparo is a remedy designed for events that reside in legal penumbra. Those conditions, which though ambiguously legal, incrementally create vulnerabilities that will, with certainty of experience, lead to the person’s harassment, disappearance, or death. Certainly, “red-baiting is quintessentially paradigmatic of these cases.”  

The Supreme Court found the data from the June 29, 2020 Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights as relevant. It further determined that the usual patterns after red-tagging are either harassments or the killing of the labelled or vilified individuals.  Speaking through Justice Zalameda, the Supreme Court finally pronounced that:

“…red-tagging, vilification, labelling, and guilt by association constitute threats to a person’s right to life, liberty or security under the second paragraph of Section 1 of the Rules which may justify the issuance of a Writ of Amparo.”

Hopefully, the outspoken patriots won’t have the need for this writ.

Share your Comments or Reactions


Powered by Facebook Comments