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Rodriguez vs Arroyo

FACTS:

This case involved two consolidated petitions assailing the April 12, 2010 Decision of the
Court of Appeals granting the writ of amparo and writ of habeas data by petitioner Noriel
Rodriguez, who is a member of Alyansa Dagiti Mannalon Iti Cagayan (Kagimungan), a
peasant organization affiliated with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

Rodriguez claims that the military tagged KMP as an enemy of the State
under the Oplan Bantay Laya, making its members targets of extrajudicial killings
and enforced disappearances. Petitioner was then abducted, tortured and forced to confess
to being a member of the New People's Army (NPA).

Rodriguez filed before this Court a Petition for the Writ of Amparo and Petition for the
Writ of Habeas Data with Prayers for Protection Orders, Inspection of Place, and
Production of Documents and Personal Properties. The petition was filed against former
President Arroyo, Gen. Ibrado, PDG. Versoza, Lt. Gen. Bangit, Major General
Nestor Z. Ochoa, P/CSupt. Tolentino, P/SSupt. Santos, Col. De Vera, and five others. The
writs were granted but the CA dropped President Arroyo as party-respondent, as she may
not be sued in any case during her tenure of office or actual incumbency as part of her
presidential immunity. Also, the prayer for the issuance of a temporary protection order
and inspection order was denied by the CA.

The respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration on the decision of the CA but before
such motion could be resolved petitioner filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration
raising that the CA erred in not granting the interim relief for temporary protection order
and in dropping President Arroyo as party-respondent.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the interim reliefs prayed for by petitioner may be granted even after
the writs of amparo and habeas data have been granted.

2. Whether or not President Arroyo should be dropped as respondent because of her


presidential immunity.

3. Whether the doctrine of command responsibility can be used in amparo and habeas
data cases

4. Whether the rights to life, liberty and property of Rodriguez were violated or
threatened by respondents

HELD:
1. The interim reliefs prayed for by the petitioner is only available before final judgment.
Section 14 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo clearly provides that interim reliefs may
only be availed of upon filing of the petition or at anytime before final judgment. Given
that there has already been a final judgment in the given case, petitioner may no longer
avail of the interim relief of temporary protection order.

2. No, President Arroyo should not be dropped. There is no determination of


administrative, civil or criminal liability in amparo and habeas data proceedings as courts
can only go as far as ascertaining responsibility or accountability for the enforced
disappearance or extrajudicial killing.

As it was held in the case of Estrada v Desierto, a non-sitting President does not enjoy
immunity from suit, even for acts committed during the latters tenure; that courts should
look with disfavor upon the presidential privilege of immunity, especially when it
impedes the search for truth or impairs the vindication of a right. Also, the Supreme
Court (SC) reiterated that the presidential immunity from suit exists only in concurrence
with the presidents incumbency. Given these, former Pres. GMA cannot use presidential
immunity to shield herself from judicial scrutiny that would assess whether, within the
context of amparo proceedings, she was responsible or accountable for the abduction of
Rodriguez.

3. Yes, As we explained in Rubrico v. Arroyo, command responsibility pertains to the


responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of the
armed forces or other persons subject to their control in international wars or domestic
conflict. Although originally used for ascertaining criminal complicity, the command
responsibility doctrine has also found application in civil cases for human rights abuses.
Precisely in the given case, the doctrine of command responsibility may be used to
determine whether respondents are accountable for and have the duty to address the
abduction of Rodriguez in order to enable the courts to devise remedial measures to
protect his rights. Nothing precludes this Court from applying the doctrine of command
responsibility in amparo proceedings to ascertain responsibility and accountability in
extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

4. Yes, the rights to life, liberty and property of Rodriguez were violated or threatened by
respondents. The SC held that there was no reason to depart from the factual findings of
the Court of Appeals, the same being supported by substantial evidence following the
doctrine of totality of evidence in amparo cases which is to consider all the pieces of
evidence adduced in their totality, and to consider any evidence otherwise inadmissible
under our usual rules to be admissible if it is consistent with the admissible evidence
adduced. The sworn affidavit of the petitioner and the medical examinations conducted
on him are sufficient evidence proving that the military personnel involved in the case
indeed abducted Rodriguez on September 6, 2009 and then detained and tortured him.