Purpose of amparo writ

Section 1 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo (Amparo Rule) provides:
SECTION 1. Petition. – The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.
On 25 September 2007, the Supreme Court promulgated the Amparo Rule “in light of the prevalence of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.” It was an exercise for the first time of the Court’s expanded power to promulgate rules to protect our people’s constitutional rights, which made its maiden appearance in the 1987 Constitution in response to the Filipino experience of the martial law regime. As the Amparo Rule was intended to address the intractable problem of “extralegal killings” and “enforced disappearances,” its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof. “Extralegal killings” are “killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings.” On the other hand, “enforced disappearances” are “attended by the following characteristics: an arrest, detention or abduction of a person by a government official or organized groups or private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of law.”

This pronouncement on the coverage of the writ was further cemented in the latter case of Lozada, Jr. v. Macapagal-Arroyo where the High Court explicitly declared that as it stands, the writ of amparo is confined only to cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, or to threats thereof. As to what constitutes “enforced disappearance,” the Court in Navia v. Pardico enumerated the elements constituting “enforced disappearances” as the term is statutorily defined in Section 3(g) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9851,[43] to wit:
(a)
that there be an arrest, detention, abduction or any form of deprivation of liberty;
(b)
that it be carried out by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, the State or a political organization;
(c)
that it be followed by the State or political organization’s refusal to acknowledge or give information on the fate or whereabouts of the person subject of the amparo petition; and
(d)
that the intention for such refusal is to remove the subject person from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.

As clarified in Navia, with the enactment of R.A. No. 9851, the Amparo Rule is now a procedural law anchored, not only on the constitutional rights to life, liberty and security, but on a concrete statutory definition as well of what an ‘enforced or involuntary disappearance’ is. Therefore, A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC’s reference to enforced disappearances should be construed to mean the enforced or involuntary disappearance of persons contemplated in Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 9851. Meaning, in probing enforced disappearance cases, courts should read A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC in relation to R.A. No. 9851.[45]

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