Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HEAD: Appeals Court is Perpetuating Injustice Using Marcos-Era Doctrine

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
Media Release
10 March 2010

Statement on CA dismissal of habeas corpus petition

Health Alliance for Democracy deplored the Court of Appeals’ decision to dismiss the petition for habeas corpus filed on behalf of the 43 illegally detained health workers.

“Justice is not served today. It is unfortunate that the expanded second division of the Court of Appeals chose to hark back to a Marcos-era doctrine to justify the unjustifiable,” declared Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.

Dr. Rivera is referring to the Ilagan Doctrine, which seems to have been the basis of the decision. The doctrine, based on a 1985 Supreme Court decision, renders a habeas corpus petition “moot and academic” once a case is filed in court.

However, the health group is unconvinced.

“The Court of Appeals is not only perpetuating injustice, it is undermining ‘sacred constitutional rights’ by using a doctrine that legalized the abuses of the military during the Marcos dictatorship. It (CA) is now condoning the contemptuous disregard for due process and human rights of Arroyo’s state security forces.”

HEAD also questioned specific presumptions of the decision.

“What ‘reason of some supervening event’ can the CA justices cite in this instance, save perhaps the planted evidence and torture perpetrated by the military to substantiate its claims? What ‘virtue of a valid court process’ is being cited here, when even the Commission on Human Rights regards the inquest proceedings made by state prosecutors as dubious because of the lack of legal counsel for the accused?”

The health group learned that two of the three-member CA second division, Justices Normandie Pizarro and Francisco Acosta, favored the health workers’ petition. Unfortunately, the division was expanded and the two additional CA justices went against the petition.

“What remedy can the CA now propose, when the cases filed in the lower courts are themselves founded on questionable bases? How can citizens expect to find justice when the courts themselves condone the violation of due process and the presumption of innocence?” added Dr. Rivera.

Quoting former Supreme Court justice Claudio Teehankee in his dissenting opinion on the Ilagan case, HEAD believes that the criminal cases filed against the health workers are “railroaded proceedings” patently void because they have been “issued without jurisdiction under the well-settled rule that ‘a violation of a constitutional right divests the court of jurisdiction; and as a consequence its judgment [or order] is null and void and confers no rights.’”

As for the next step, the health group is seeking to elevate the issue to the Supreme Court. At the same time, they are reiterating their demand for the transfer of the health workers to Camp Crame, to prevent further torture at the hands of the military.

“Our quest for justice is not over. We will not stop until all 43 health workers are free!” concluded Dr. Rivera. ####

References:

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

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