Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) made a misleading claim that the Supreme Court had ruled that “there is no danger to life, liberty and security when you are identified as a member of the CPP NPA NDF.”
She was responding to a comment of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who warned against red-tagging individuals without proof.
In a June 15 public forum, Guevarra was asked if he agreed with the NTF-ELCAC’s practice of “public red-tagging” people as “armed communists.”
The justice secretary replied that government officials should file necessary legal action if they have evidence, adding:
“Kung wala ka namang ebidensya to support anything except to suspect na ito ay fronts ng, let’s say, communist terrorist groups, eh ‘wag ka na lang magsalita dahil you’re endangering certain people, ‘no, kung wala ka namang sufficient evidence. Baka mamaya target naman ‘yung mga tao na ‘yon na who are just vocal about their own political views; baka ma-endanger naman ‘yung mga tao na ‘yon.”
(If you have no evidence to support anything, except to suspect that these are fronts of, let’s say, communist terrorist groups, then just don’t speak because you’re endangering certain people if you don’t have sufficient evidence. Maybe later these persons will be targeted when they are just vocal about their political views; maybe they will be endangered.)
Source: Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva, Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, June 15, 2022, watch from 1:13:28 to 1:13:55
In a Facebook post a day after Guevarra made the comment, Badoy said:
“We also find it unfortunate that no less than a Justice secretary seems ignorant that our Supreme Court has ruled, in Zarate vs Aquino, that there is no danger to life, liberty and security when you are identified as a member of the CPP NPA NDF.”
The Supreme Court did not say this in Zarate vs. Aquino. What the High Court ruled in the case was that “mere membership in organizations or sectors” mentioned in the petition – including progressive groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Karapatan, and Bayan Muna – “cannot equate to an actual threat that would warrant the issuance of a writ of amparo.”
A writ of amparo is available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. It covers extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats suffered by any “qualified” person.
The High Court explained that the petition was denied for two reasons:
- The petitioners failed to provide “substantial evidence” proving that there was actual threat to their life, liberty, and security as required for the granting of a writ of amparo.
- A writ of amparo is sought “individually and granted individually” so the court is compelled to assess the situation of each petitioner separately.
Petitioners in Zarate vs. Aquino sought a writ of amparo after partylist representatives (of Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Partylist, and AnakPawis) and members of human rights groups (Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Children’s Rehabilitation Center) were included in the government “lists” of individuals allegedly involved in kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and trafficking.
The petitioners said this, as well as alleged harassment, fabricated criminal charges, and insinuations linking them to the NPA, were “threats to their life, liberty, and security, warranting the protection of the writ of amparo.”
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Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva, Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, June 15, 2022
Supreme Court of the Philippines E-library, G. R. No. 220028, Nov. 10, 2015
Supreme Court of the Philippines, The Rule on the Writ of Amparo, Sept. 25, 2007
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)