Manalo brothers urge CA to exercise judicial review amid OSG’s refusal to support their petition on Palparan’s acquittal
Raymond Manalo filed his Reply to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) with the Court of Appeals in his Petition for Certiorari on the acquittal of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan (Ret.) and his co-accused in their kidnapping and serious illegal detention case.
May 9, 2024
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers is a nationwide voluntary association of human rights lawyers in the Philippines, committed to the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights, especially of the poor and the oppressed.

Raymond Manalo filed his Reply to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) with the Court of Appeals in his Petition for Certiorari on the acquittal of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan (Ret.) and his co-accused in their kidnapping and serious illegal detention case. In this Reply, Raymond and his brother Reynaldo respond to the Comment of the OSG, where it not only refused to give conformity to the petition but also asked for its dismissal based on the rulings of the public respondent, Judge Francisco Felizmenio of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, Branch 19.

The Manalo brothers highlight the OSG’s selective application of legal actions: where it appears to be neglecting a case against a convicted human rights violator, it is actively pursuing cases against activists (like Reina Mae Nasino, Lady Ann Salem, and the Tumandok leaders) on tenuous legal grounds, such as defective search warrants or insufficiency of evidence. They ask the Court of Appeals “to exercise its power of judicial review in the face of such blatant abuse of authority by the OSG, ensuring that justice prevails where it has faltered.”

With permission from the Manalo brothers, the National Union of Peoples’s Lawyers (NUPL) is publishing the Prefatory note of their Reply:

Prefatory

Petitioners Raymond E. Manalo (“Raymond”) and Reynaldo E. Manalo (“Reynaldo”) find themselves entangled in a peculiar conundrum. They stand as survivors among the many who fell victim to the harrowing atrocities committed by Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, infamously dubbed the “butcher” (“berdugo”) for his ruthless orchestration of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances targeting activists, community leaders, and rights advocates during his military tenure.

In 2006, Petitioners endured abduction and torture at the hands of Palparan and military personnel under his command. Amidst their captivity, they bore witness to the unspeakable horrors inflicted upon their fellow captives, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, young activists subjected to heinous acts of rape and torture. Yet, both by sheer will and fortune, Petitioners managed to evade their captors and live to recount their ordeal.

Petitioner Raymond’s testimony became pivotal in securing the conviction of Palparan in the case brought forth by Karen and Sherlyn’s families for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention. Thus, it bewildered Petitioners that when faced with their own pursuit of justice, Public Respondent Hon. Francisco P. Felizmenio dismissed Raymond’s testimony due to unfounded inconsistencies and flaws. This prompted Petitioners to seek redress through the instant Petition for Certiorari, hoping to challenge the assailed Decision with the conformity of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

However, to their dismay, the OSG, departing from its mandate as the “Tribune of the People,” aligned with the adverse ruling and practically abandoned its duty to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable. At the same time, it has been exhibiting a paradoxical zeal in pursuing baseless charges against activists who had already been cleared of wrongdoing—a pattern glaringly evident in the following legal precedents arising from criminal actions for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives:

a. In People v. Lady Ann Salem and Rodrigo Esparago, the OSG promptly supported the prosecution’s plea for review by certiorari after the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City nullified the search warrants and dismissed the case against the accused. Despite this, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision, prompting the OSG to seek reconsideration;

b. In the case of People v. Ram Carlo Bautista, Alma Moran, and Reina Mae Nasino, the OSG pursued a petition for review before the Supreme Court following the Court of Appeals’ ruling to invalidate the search warrants against Bautista. However, the Supreme Court denied the OSG’s petition, citing a lack of reversible error on the part of the appellate court;

c. The OSG filed a notice of appeal in People v. Sr. Elenita Belardo and several other cases of perjury against rights defenders of Karapatan Alliance Philippines (“Karapatan”) and GABRIELA after the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon City acquitted all of them and the RTC of Quezon City, on certiorari, affirmed such acquittal;

d. Similarly, in People v. Alexander Birondo and Winona Marie Birondo, the OSG supported the prosecution’s filing of a petition for review by certiorari after the RTC of Quezon City quashed the search warrants and dismissed the case against them; and,

e. The OSG also pursued petitions for review on certiorari to reverse the quashal of four search warrants that led to the arrest of Marivic Aguirre, Eleuteria Caro, and other members of the Tumandok tribe during simultaneous raids on December 30, 2020 in Tapaz and Calinog towns in Panay Island. The Court of Appeals, however, has dismissed one of the petitions and affirmed the quashal of the search warrants by the RTC of Mambusao, Capiz

Despite the OSG’s abdication of its duty to defend the interests of the People, Petitioners, who once stood as key witnesses for the prosecution, now find themselves abandoned in their rightful pursuit of justice. Thus, they implore this Honorable Court to exercise its power of judicial review in the face of such blatant abuse of authority by the OSG, ensuring that justice prevails where it has faltered. ###

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