SC issues writ of amparo in favor of families of ‘Oplan Tokhang’ victims

MANILA– The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday issued a writ of amparo in favor of the 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.

The petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo petition seeks 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.

Atty. Gleo Guerra, Assistant Chief of SC Public Information said the Court made the decision during their regular en banc, issuing the Writ of Amparo and also granted the urgent relief sought by petitioners and issued a temporary protection order (TPO) against anti-narcotics police officers.

”Issue a temporary protection order prohibiting the respondents and any of their agents from entering within a radius of one kilometer from the residence and work addresses of the petitioners,” the high court said.

The SC order, however, applies only to the concerned police station – not to the PNP in general.

The petition against the ‘tokhang’, the first since the Duterte administration launched a sustained drug war in July last year, asks 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 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 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.

Among the petitioners was Efren Morillo is one of the petitioners together with Martino Morillo, Victoria Morillo, Ma. Belen Daa. Marla Daa, Maribet Bartolay, Lydia Gabo, Jennifer Nicolas and Marilyn Malimban.

The petitioners through lawyer Romel Bagares said that in seeking protection under the Writ of Amparo that Morillo continues to fear for his life considering the filing of trumped up charges of direct assault upon agents of persons in authority against him.

Bagares said the charges was clearly persecution on the part of the perpetrators.

Named respondents in the petition were Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Director Police Senior Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, (QCPD) Police Station 6 Commander P/Supt. Lito Patay, and several other policemen namely P/SI Emil Garcia, PO3 Allan Formilleza, PO1 James Aggarao and PO1 Melchor Navisaga.

The respondents were given five days from notice to submit their comment by filing a return of the writ before the Court of Appeals (CA), which was tapped by the SC to hear the case and submit its findings.

The CA was also tapped to decide on the other interim reliefs sought in the petition and “decide within 10 days after its submission for decision.”  Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/