CASE DIGEST: Aberca v. Ver (G.R. No. 69866)

CASE DIGEST: [ G.R. No. 69866, April 15, 1988 ] ROGELIO ABERCA, et al., PETITIONERS, VS. MAJ. GEN. FABIAN VER, et al. YAP, J.: FACTS: Persons apprehended and imprisoned without charges during the Martial Law regime, upon their release after a new administration took over, filed suits for damages against General Fabian Ver and others who effected their arrest and detention.

ISSUE: Are respondents immune from Article 32 as members of the armed forces merely doing their duty?

HELD: Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private individual liable in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated therein, does not exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability under the said article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.

This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or carrying out their mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with their duty to protect the Republic from its enemies, whether of the left or of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert our democratic institutions and imperil their very existence. What we are merely trying to say is that in carrying out this task and mission, constitutional and legal safeguards must be observed, otherwise, the very fabric of our faith will start to unravel. In the battle of competing ideologies, the struggle for the mind is just as vital as the struggle of arms. The linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the rule of law. Once that faith is lost or compromised, the struggle may well be abandoned.