CA issues permanent protection order for 'Tokhang' victims in Payatas

DRUG KILLINGS. Police seal off a crime scene following a TokHang operation in Manila on November 7, 2016, that led to the death of the suspect.

Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has issued a permanent protection order for a survivor and families of other alleged victims of Oplan TokHang, preventing Quezon City policemen from going near them.

In a decision promulgated Friday, February 10, the CA 14th division made permanent the temporary protection order (TPO) earlier issued by the Supreme Court that favored petitioners in the very first case that challenged Oplan TokHang in court. (READ: 1st petition vs Oplan TokHang filed at SC)

It stemmed from an incident in August 2016 where 4 drug suspects were killed by policemen from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 6, who said the suspects resisted the arrest while shooting at them. (READ: A gruesome tale of TokHang: 'Sir, may humihinga pa')

The petition was filed by the 4 victims' families and Efren Morillo, who survived the alleged 'execution-style' killings of his group in the name of the government's Oplan TokHang.

The CA ruled that S/Insp Emil Garcia, PO3 Allan Formilleza, PO1 James Aggarao, and PO1 Melchor Navisaga of QCPD Station 6 are prohibited from going near the homes and work addresses of the petitioners, within a radius of one kilometer.

The petitioners earlier alleged that the cops continue to make threats against them. QCPD Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar has earlier told Rappler that they will conduct their own investigation into these allegations.

CA also ruled that the 4 policemen shall be reassigned to police offices outside Quezon City and Montalban, Rizal.

The court also directed the Philippine National Police (PNP), through its Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), to furnish the petitioners with a copy of the results of their investigation into the killings of Morillo’s companions.

Morillo will remain under the protection of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the decision said.

It also suspended TokHang in areas covered by the QCPD Station 6 – except that the PNP has already suspended TokHang nationwide last January 30, citing a need for "internal cleansing" among the police ranks. (READ: Dela Rosa orders: Stop war on drugs)

The CA issued the decision on the same day of hearing the petition, after two hours of oral arguments.

Joel Ruiz Butuyan, president of the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) which is representing the kin of TokHang victims in court, said on a Facebook post: "This is the fastest resolution of a case Centerlaw has ever handled. Kudos to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Court of Appeals, which all agreed on the merits of the case."

CenterLaw has earlier said they are also planning to file another case that will challenge the very legality of the entire Oplan TokHang. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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