(Question II, Political Law, 2018 Bar Exam)
Agnes was allegedly picked up by a group of military men headed by Gen. Altamirano, and was brought to several military camps where she was interrogated, beaten, mauled, tortured, and threatened with death if she would not confess her membership in the New People’s Army (NPA) and point to the location of NPA camps. She suffered for several days until she was released after she signed a document saying that she was a surenderee, and was not abducted or harmed by the military. After she was released, and alleging that her rights to life, liberty and security had been violated and continued to be threatened by violation of such rights, she filed with the Supreme Court (the Court) a Petition for the Writs of Amparo and Habeas Data with prayers for Temporary Protection Orders, Inspection of Place, and Production of Documents and Personal Properties. The case was filed against President Amoyo (who was the President of the Philippines when the abduction, beating, mauling and life threats were committed), General Altamirano, and several military men whom Agnes was able to recognize during her ordeal. The Court, after finding the petition to be in order, issued the writ of amparo and the writ of habeas data and directed the respondents to file a verified return on the writs, and directed the Court of Appeals (CA) to hear the petition. The respondents duly filed their return on the writs and produced the documents in their possession. After hearing, the CA ruled that there was no more need to issue the temporary protection orders since the writ of amparo had already been issued, and dismissed the petition against President Amoyo on the ground that he was immune from suit during his incumbency as President. Agnes appealed the CA ruling to the Court. The appeal was lodged after President Amoyo’s term had ended.
(a) Was the CA correct in saying that the writ of amparo rendered unnecessary the issuance of the temporary protection order? (2.5%)
(b) Will the President’s immunity from suit continue even after his term has ended, considering that the events covered by the Petition took place during his term? (2.5%)
(a) Yes. Under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo and jurisprudence, the privilege of the writ of amparo, once granted, necessarily entails the protection of the aggrieved party. Thus, once the privilege of the writ of amparo is granted, there is no need to issue a temporary protection order independently of the former. The order restricting respondents from going near petitioner is subsumed under the privilege of the writ.
(b) No. Under jurisprudence, the President enjoys immunity from suit during his or her tenure of office or actual incumbency. Conversely, this presidential privilege of immunity cannot be invoked by a non-sitting president even for acts committed during his or her tenure.
(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)
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