ILOILO City – Former Bayan Muna Representative Siegfred Deduro has asked yesterday, November 4, the Supreme Court to grant his petition for the writ of amparo after it was dismissed by the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court Branch 24 last October 26.
Deduro filed the petition on October 22 but RTC Judge Nestle Go dismissed the petition for “lack of substantial evidence”. The court further ruled that the petition was “baseless and untenable”.
In a statement, Deduro believed that his petition for the writ of amparo and the evidence submitted with it was sufficient for the issuance of the writ.
Deduro was accused by the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army of being the third-ranking official of the CPP-NPA in Panay, in its so-called “terrorist threat” at the June 19, 2020 meeting of the Iloilo Peace and Order Council at the Old Capitol Building of Iloilo Province.
The said meeting was attended by Iloilo Province Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr., members of the AFP, employees from the provincial capitol and members of the media, among others.
On the same day, the media outfit Bombo Radyo Iloilo thru its Facebook page posted photos wherein the 3rd ID presented a diagram of CPP-NPA leadership in Panay. Deduro’s name appeared twice in one of the slides.
The human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan said they are alarmed over the quick dismissal by the RTC of Deduro’s petition.
“Given these recent murders and considering the more insidious red-tagging presently undertaken by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and their agents, we fear that Deduro and other human rights defenders are in similarly grave danger,” said Reylan Vergara, the group’s secretary general.
The group added that their concern is not without basis.
Zara Alvarez, another prominent activist in Negros became a victim of extra-judicial killing in Bacolod City early this year. Prior to her murder, Alvarez experienced red-tagging and threats to her life for her work as a human rights defender.
After being included by the Armed Forces in the list of persons subject for proscription as a member of an alleged terrorist organization, Alvarez was a member of human rights organizations that sought protection through a petition for a writ of amparo filed with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court delegated to the Court of Appeals the task of hearing their petition. Last year, the Court of Appeals denied the petition for amparo.
Zara Alvarez was murdered on the evening of August 17, 2020. She was shot multiple times when she went out of her house to buy food. Her assailant left her body lying on the ground amidst the pouring rain.”
Before Alvarez’s murder, on the morning of April 30, 2020, another one of Deduro’s colleagues, Bayan Muna Iloilo City Coordinator Jory Porquia was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen. He was also the subject of repeated red-tagging dating back to December 2018.
“We appeal to the courts to be more considerate of the circumstances of those who seek protection under special proceedings such as the Writ of Amparo. In these times, when the Executive is blatantly targeting citizens who stand up for democratic rights, we look upon the Judiciary as a refuge for those who, as a result of their work, find their lives in peril,” said Vergara.
Deduro added that “even the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights cited, in its report released in June 2020, the pervasive red-tagging in the country and its detrimental effect to civil society.”
“I now turn to the Supreme Court and ask it to set aside the RTC’s order of dismissal and issue a writ of amparo in my favor,” Deduro said.
The Writ of Amparo, as a special proceeding, is meant to be a recourse for those whose lives, liberty and security are under threat.
“I will not cease to seek protection from the court to stop the impunity of the military and PNP from red-tagging activists like me,” said Deduro.
“The recent killings of my colleagues, Porquia and Alvarez, show that the threats are very real, and not baseless,” Deduro stressed./www.panaytoday.net