Lt. Col. Boac et al. v. Cadapan and Empeño; Cadapan and Empeño v. Gen. Esperon et al.; Cadapan and Empeño v. Macapagal-Arroyo et al.Jurisprudence
- Case number
- 184461-62; 184495; 187109
- En Banc
- Date of decision
- May 31, 2011
- Nature of the case
Enforced disappearance; Torture; Arbitrary detention; Kidnapping
- Summary of outcome
Armed men abducted Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño, and Manuel Merino, leading to a petition for habeas corpus before the Supreme Court, impleading then Generals Romeo Tolentino and Jovito Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Arnel Enriquez and Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson as respondents. The Court issued a writ of habeas corpus, returnable to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals. By Return of the Writ, the respondents in the habeas corpus petition denied that abductees are in the custody of the military. Trial ensued at the appellate court, and the Court of Appeals dismissed the habeas corpus petition, leading to a later petition for a writ of amparo with the same respondents, along with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr., then Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Avelino Razon, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, and Donald Caigas.
The Court held that command responsibility means the “responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinate members of the armed forces or other persons subject to their control in international wars or domestic conflict.” Command responsibility is a form of criminal complicity, and thus a substantive rule that points to criminal or administrative liability. An amparo proceeding is not criminal in nature nor does it ascertain the criminal liability of individuals or entities involved. Neither does it partake of a civil or administrative suit; but rather, it is a remedial measure designed to direct specified courses of action to government agencies to safeguard the constitutional right to life, liberty and security of aggrieved individuals. An amparo proceeding does nor determine guilt nor pinpoint criminal culpability for the disappearance or threats thereof or extrajudicial killings; it determines responsibility, or at least accountability, for the enforced disappearance for purposes of imposing the appropriate remedies to address the disappearance. However, then-President Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be sued, due to her immunity from suit at the time the petitions were filed. The President, during their tenure of office or actual incumbency, may not be sued in any civil or criminal case. It will degrade the dignity of the high office of the President, the Head of State, if they can be dragged into court litigations while serving as such.
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