The National Union of People’s Lawyers on Thursday asked the Court of Appeals to set aside its decision dismissing the petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus filed by the wife of missing peasant activist Steve Abua against some military officials.
In his motion for reconsideration, NUPL lawyer Edre Olalia stressed that a writ of habeas corpus should be issued directing the respondent military officials to produce the body of Abua before the CA.
“Petitioner humbly invites the Honorable Court to closely reconsider its view of the overall circumstances surrounding the abduction and continued involuntary disappearance of her husband since November 2021, and grant the writ and privilege of habeas corpus as prayed for,” the NUPL said.
“While there is no direct evidence of Abua’s illegal confinement under the custody of the police or the military, the facts established by petitioner constitute more than scintilla of evidence or substantial evidence,” the petition stated.
The CA ruled earlier that the writ of habeas corpus cannot be issued due to the absence of proof that Abua is being restrained of his liberty.
The court stressed that the grant of relief in a habeas corpus is not based on the disappearance of a person, but on his illegal detention.
According to the Appellate Court, the relief cannot be used to obtain evidence on the whereabouts of a person, or as a means of knowing who were responsible for his abduction.
Johanna Abua claimed that her husband could be under the custody of either the military or the police station in Central Luzon.
She narrated that Steve’s organization, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), has been previously tagged as a communist terrorist group by the government, particularly through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Prior to his disappearance, Johanna said her husband had been under surveillance by unidentified persons who went around his community asking for his whereabouts.
On the day her husband disappeared, Johanna recounted he was supposed to attend a meeting with farmers at Orani, Bataan on November 6, 2021.
But, he reportedly went missing and was last seen in a commercial area in Barangay Santa Cruz, Lubao, Pampanga.
The petitioner said she went to various military camps, police headquarters, detention facilities and hospitals to search for her husband to no avail, prompting her to file the petition for the writ of habeas.
Johanna also claimed that on November 7, 2021, she received a call from Steve’s phone number and an unidentified man from the other side of the line informed her that Steve was under their custody and that she was ordered to convince Steve to disclose pieces of information being sought from him.
She added that also she received a text message from Abua’s captors, accusing him of membership with the communist-terrorist group, New People’s Army (NPA).
“From the foregoing, it can be reasonably said that the captors of Petitioner’s husband are persons who are working for and in the government. These persons likewise have the capacity and the means to arrest, detain or even kill a person perceived to be a suspect of a crime or an enemy of the State,” the motion read.
“Since the captors of Petitioner’s husband are clearly considering him to be a rebel, it stands to reason that they are either police officers or military elements under the command of herein respondents,” it added.