By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter

NONE OF the seven defense and military officials who were named respondents in the writ of amparo and habeas data petition of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) attended the Court of Appeals hearing on June 6, Thursday, the president of the organization said.

NUPL President Edre U. Olalia, who took his stand as witness in the hearing at the special fifteenth division of the Court of Appeals (CA) for their writ of amparo petition, said the respondents cited “different reasons” for their absence.

“Not one of the seven generals appeared, much less the President,” he told reporters.

Mr. Olalia said the CA justices handling the petition, which seeks protection from alleged red-tagging by the government, “were quite upset” about the absence of the respondents, saying “it took a long time before they let it slide.”

Lawyer Rachel F. Pastores, legal counsel of NUPL, said the court required the respondents to appear in the next hearing set on July 11.

“(I)t’s important for the respondents to be present kasi (because) the allegations pertain to threats to right to life and liberty of petitioners, so these are actual allegations that need the presence of the respondents that’s why the court required their presence,” she told reporters after the hearing.

The NUPL filed its petition for writ of amparo and habeas data before the Supreme Court last April.

The respondents in the petition were President Rodrigo R. Duterte and seven other government officials: National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr., AFP Deputy Commander for Intelligence Brig. Gen. Fernando T. Trinidad, AFP Chief of Intelligence Service Maj. Gen. Erwin Bernard Neri, Philippine Army Commanding-General Lt. Gen. Macairog S. Alberto, and AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Civil Military Operations Maj. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade, Jr.

A writ of amparo is a remedy available to anyone whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission by a public official or employee. A writ of habeas data, on the other hand, was sought to compel the government to destroy information that may have been gathered against the petitioners.

The high court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data but also referred to the CA the petition seeking a temporary protection order against the respondents.