CA orders protection for human rights lawyer

    The Court of Appeals has ordered the government to ensure the safety of human rights lawyer and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers founding member Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon

    March 25, 2015 9:15pm

    The Court of Appeals has ordered the government to ensure the safety of human rights lawyer and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers founding member Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon.

    In a 22-page decision, the CA’s Former Special Sixth Division granted the petition for the issuance of the writs of amparo and habeas data filed by Salucon after she allegedly received death threats and became a victim of labeling, surveillance and verbal intimidation by military officers last year.

    The lawyer said she believed the harassment was related to her legal profession, and her work in high-profile cases, including the defense of several political detainees, as well as cases related to various mass and people’s organizations.

    “Respondents are hereby directed to exert extraordinary diligence and efforts, not only to protect the life, liberty and security of petitioner Atty. Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon and the immediate members of her family, but also to conduct further investigation to determine the veracity of the alleged surveillance operation and acts of harassment and intimidation committed against petitioner,” read the CA decision.

    Named respondents in Salucon’s plea were President Benigno Aquino III; Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin; former Philippine military Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista; Gen. Eduardo Ano, commanding officer of the Intelligence Service of the Intelligence Service of the AFP; Gen. Hernando Irriberi, commanding general of the Philippine Army; Gen. Benito de Leon, commanding general of the 5th Infantry Division; former police chief Director General Alan Purisima; and C/Supt. Miguel de Mayo Laurel, chief of the Isabela Provincial Police Office.

    Aquino was cleared from the petition on the grounds of his immunity from suit. Also cleared were Gazmin (lack of merit) and Purisima (moot and academic).

    A writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission.

    A writ of habeas data is a legal remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated. It grants the petitioner a chance to question the data and to seek for its updating, rectification, or destruction.

    The CA ordered the remaining respondents to “identify and find the people responsible for said violations and bring them to competent court.”

    The CA also ordered the respondents to submit to the appeals court a quarterly report of their actions “as a way of periodic review to enable this court to monitor the action of respondents.”

    The respondents were likewise ordered to produce and disclose all facts, records, photos, dossiers and other evidence, both documentary and otherwise, pertaining to Salucon “for possible destruction upon order of this Court.”

    “Failure to comply with the foregoing shall constitute contempt of court,” the CA warned.

    Salucon had claimed that between March and April 2014, both her office and residence were under surveillance by men on motorcycles who she said appeared to be members of the military.

    Salucon claimed that her name had been placed on the military’s watch list of so-called “Communist Terrorist” supporters providing legal services.

    The Regional Intelligence Division of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has also allegedly ordered the PNP office in Salucon’s hometown of Burgos, Isabela to carry out a background investigation into whether she is a “Red Lawyer.” — Mark Merueñas/BM, GMA News