Amparo brings out missing youth held captive by militiamen

Nov. 11, 2007

By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY—The youth earlier reported missing after he was held in a checkpoint of Task Force Davao in barangay Malabog surfaced when the Regional Trial Court (RTC) served the writ of amparo to militiamen on Tuesday.

But Bebelita Bustamante, the mother, said she still feels uneasy because the militiamen holding his son still refused to release him.

“He said to me, Ma, wa man ko gi-torture, wa man gani ko’y samad sa tiyan, (Ma, I wasn’t tortured, I don’t even have torture marks in my stomach),” the mother said he was told by his son, when the Court sheriff, together with human rights group Karapatan, served the writ of amparo to Noli Ubat, who headed the Task Force Davao militia in sitio Balogo, of barangay Malabog of Paquibato district here.

On October 27, only three days after the writ of amparo which supposed to protect the right to life, liberty and security took effect, Bustamante was with friends and a younger sister on their way to distribute barangay election handbills in Malabog Proper when militiamen headed by Ubat held him inside a Task Force Davao checkpoint.

Kelly Delgado, secretary-general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, said it was good that Bustamante surfaced during the serving of the writ but the group is worried about reports that Bustamante was again moved to another place the evening after they saw him.

“The mere fact that he was seen on TV only confirmed that they held Bustamante in custody,” he said. “We will go on until they turn him over to the Court,” he said, adding that Bustamante “appeared to be in a state of trauma,” when they saw him.

“I told him not to sign anything in the absence of a lawyer but he already told me, ‘a, naka-sign na man ko, NPA na man ko karun.’ (I’ve already signed, I’m an NPA now.)” The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyer Manuel Quibod handling the case, deputized the human rights group to serve the writ with the sheriff because he could not make it, Delgado said.

The youth’s mother filed the petition for the writ of amparo on November 7, or 11 days after her son was missing on October 27.

Delgado said the Court, under RTC Executive Judge Isaac Robillo, Jr., immediately granted the petition only a few hours upon receipt. But the Judge was wary over serving it to President Arroyo, named among the respondents of the writ. He said the Office of the President is beyond the jurisdiction of the Lower Court.

In granting the petition, the Court said, it found sufficient cause in the issuance of a writ of amparo, based on the affidavit that the petitioners presented.

The Court directed the respondents to file a verified written return within 72 hours upon the receipt of the writ and set the hearing on November 14. (Germelina Lacorte/DavaoToday)

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