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NTF-ELCAC on Deduro case: ‘A chance to be heard and a procedural lapse’



May 11, 2024



The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) welcomed the Supreme Court decision on the case involving Siegfred Deduro as an opportunity for all parties concerned to present evidence in the interest of fair prosecution and the rule of law.


In a statement, NTF-ELCAC Executive Director and Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. reiterated the position of the Task Force’s Legal Cooperation Cluster (LCC) that maintained that the High Court has yet to make a categorical ruling on the merits of the grant of the privilege of the writ of amparo prayed for by the petitioner since “the Regional Trial Court (RTC) is still yet to determine the relevance and consistency of the evidence by both parties in resolving the Petition.”


"We look at this decision as an opportunity for the respondent to present witnesses and evidence regarding Deduro’s connections with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front). The SC’s decision shed light on the RTC’s procedural lapse in dismissing the case without requiring the respondent to file a return, thereby depriving the State due process,” Torres stressed.


In a 39-page ruling, the Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of the RTC of the Petition for Issuance of Writ of Amparo filed by Deduro and ordered the remanding of the case to the RTC for the conduct of summary hearing. The Court held that the RTC erred in cursorily dismissing the case without requiring the respondent to file a return.


“Without the opportunity to file a return, the RTC deprived the State of the occasion to effectively define its side on the matter in violation of the fundamental right to due process,” the LCC said in a separate statement.


In remanding the case to the lower court, the LCC emphasized that the Supreme Court has only issued the Writ of Amparo, “which is entirely different from the grant of the privilege of the writ.” The SC's ruling overturned the dismissal by the Iloilo RTC, directing the issuance of the writ against respondent Major General Eric Vinoya.


Torres further stressed that this only means that the RTC has yet to determine the relevance and consistency of the evidence by both parties in resolving the Petition. He said that the Task Force recognizes the importance of a forthcoming summary hearing at the RTC to ensure a thorough review of the petitioner's claims and the respondent's defense.


“The SC’s intervention after the RTC’s dismissal emphasized the critical nature of due process and the safeguarding of individual rights which we value and continue to uphold,” added Torres.


Torres explained that accusations of “red tagging” are only meant to deflect underground organizations’ “terrorist-grooming” efforts where select individual victims are systematically recruited and radicalized through deliberate manipulation and control.


This concept of “violent extremist or terrorist-grooming”, which is a recognized by various international bodies, he explained, poses a severe threat to the safety and stability of the nation and its people.

“The government’s primary duty is to shield the Filipino people from all threats jeopardizing their life and liberty, safeguarding the foundation of Filipino society. Terrorist-groomers have specialized skills that they have honed through the years to manipulate and control radicalized individuals to embrace the armed struggle for a violent government takeover. These deceptive organizations do not have the interests of the Filipino people at heart; instead, they thrive on the suffering of innocent individuals, deceiving them to join their corrupt cause and perish needlessly for it,” Torres said.

“The front organizations have been recruiting innocent Filipinos into their armed components to carry out terrorist activities nationwide,” he added.


NTF-ELCAC MEDIA BUREAU

Ref: Joel M. Sy Egco

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