Cebu City–The Court of Appeals here has issued a permanent protection order for a human rights activist who has complained of harassment and surveillance by military and police agents in her Petition for the Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data.
Paz Silva, advocacy officer of the premier human rights umbrella KARAPATAN-Central Visayas, sought the appellate court’s protection in July, 2009 after said harassment and surveillance intensified with the filing of trumped-up murder charge by the 79th Infantry Battalion and 302nd Infantry Brigade against her earlier. The trumped-up charge was later dismissed by the prosecutor’s office in Dumaguete City thus precipitating Silva’s petition for protection at the appellate court.
In a 22-page Decision received by the petitioner on 05 January, 2010, the 19th Division-Court of Appeals-Visayas directed “military and police personnel to stay away INTENTIONALLY a hundred meters from her, while at the same time endeavoring to identify persons who may hereafter threaten or harm her and prevent them from actually doing so.” (p.21, Decision, Paz V. Silva vs. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et al., CA-G.R. SP 00037)
The court however refused to compel the military to submit its “Order of Battle,” which was used as basis by the 79th IB and 302nd IBde to file their trumped-up charge of murder against Silva earlier.
It also denied Silva’s request for the production and destruction of her photographs mentioned in the soldiers’ affidavits. It said the photos “do not exist” and which is why, the court said, provincial prosecution in Negros Oriental threw out the said trumped-out charge.
“In part, I’m glad that the court recognized and addressed, albeit reluctantly, the threats posed against me for being a human rights defender. Surveillance, intimidation and labeling are the most common forms of attack against human rights defenders. They evolve into extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances if left unchallenged,” Silva warned.
KARAPATAN-CV has just concluded a legal conference that charted the next series of legal actions on her case.
“The Decision established legal facts and opened legal options for more courses of actions. It’s the year of the metal tiger, after all! We must be aggressive in persecuting the perpetrators, in clearing the climate of impunity, and in bringing the criminals to justice,” Silva added.