CA grants Writ of Amparo to families of ‘Oplan Tokhang’ victims in QC

By , on February 11, 2017

MANILA –The Court of Appeals granted the Writ of Amparo petition filed by Center for International Law on behalf of the families of slain drug suspects in “Oplan Tokhang” operations in Payatas, Quezon City in August last year.

In an three-page resolution dated Feb. 10, penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas and was concurred by Associate Justices Danton Bueser and Renato Francisco, the CA’s 14th Division granted the writ to protect the families of ‘Tokhang’ victims whose rights to life, liberty and security are violated or threatened from alleged harassment and intimidation by the police.

The CA also adopted the Supreme Court’s directive last week to prohibit the respondent police officers and their agents from entering within a radius of one kilometer from the residence and work addresses of the petitioners.

The petition was originally filed before the Supreme Court. The high court issued a temporary protection order (TPO) and ordered the Court of Appeals to conduct a hearing.

The high court also prevented operatives of Station 6, which conducted the operation in the area in August last year, from entering the residence and workplaces of petitioners within a one-kilometer radius.

The petition against the ‘tokhang’, the first since the Duterte administration launched a sustained drug war in July last year, asked the SC to protect the families from police harassment and intimidation, and to suspend ‘tokhang’ operations in the community and in all areas under the jurisdiction of QCPD Station 6 while the case is being heard.

The petitioners include Efren Morillo, Martino Morillo, Victoria Morillo, Ma. Belen Daa, Marla Daa, Maribet Bartolay, Lydia Gabo, Jennifer Nicolas and Marilyn Malimban.

In CA resolution, there being no dispute that the allegations in the petition are supported by substantial evidence, the privilege of the writ is granted the following dispositions:

”The Temporary Protection Order is converted to a permanent one. The prohibition from entering within a radius of one (1) kilometer from the residences and work addresses of the petitioners shall cover respondents P/SI Emil S. Garcia, P03 Allan Formilleza, P01 James Aggarao and P01 Melchor Navisaga and any of their agents,” the CA stated.

The CA ordered the reassignment of respondent policemen, Senior Inspector Emil Garcia, PO3 Allan Formilleza, PO1 James Aggarao and PO1 Melchor Navisaga, to police offices outside Quezon City and Montalban, Rizal while the implementation of Oplan Tokhang shall remain suspended with respect to the petitioners.

Aside from this, the CA stressed that the petitioners shall be furnished by the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) with a copy of the results of the investigation of the incident which resulted in the death of Messrs. Marcelo Daa, Jr., Raffy Gabo, Anthony Comendo, and Jessie Cule and frustrated killing of Efren Morillo on August 21, 2016 at Group 9, Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City pursuant to a memorandum issued by PDG Ronald Dela Rosa on Feb. 1, 2017.

”Morillo shall continue to be under the protection of the Commission on Human Rights. PDG Ronald Dela Rosa and Police Chief Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar shall directly ensure that the prohibitions and protective measures hereinabove provided are fully complied with,” the resolution reads.

The case arose from a tokhang operation carried out by senior Insp. Emil Garcia;, PO3 Allan Formilleza; PO1 James Aggarao; and PO1 Melchor Navisaga of the QCPD Police Station 6 on Aug. 21, 2016. They allegedly shot dead, execution-style, four men, namely Marcelo Daa, Jr., Raffy Gabo, Anthony Comendo, and Jessie Cule. A fifth victim, Efren Morillo, survived and he is now a vital witness in the murder and frustrated murder cases being readied by the Center for International Law against the respondents.