Malacañang tells activist priest to file writ of amparo

MANILA, Philippines – Instead of making public his supposed close call with a death squad, activist priest Father Amado "Picx" Picardal should just file a writ of amparo to ensure his safety, Malacañang said on Tuesday, August 28.

"Tama na po 'yang declaration sa media. Kung talagang may banta, gamitin ang mga remedyo at mayroon tayong writ of amparo," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in Palace news briefing.

(Stop making declarations to media. If there is really a threat, use the available remedies like the writ of amparo.)

Picardal, who has lived in seclusion since April and has not approached the media, wrote in a blog post how 6 men on board 3 motorcycles and wearing "full-faced helmets" stationed themselves outside a Cebu monastery he visits as part of his routine.

Picardal said that if he had visited the monastery that day, August 11, he could have become "a victim of extrajudicial killing and the 4th priest to be killed under the Duterte regime had I stuck to my routine."

Roque, a lawyer, assured Picardal that if he files a writ of amparo, the courts will quickly act on it.

"His remedy is to file a writ of amparo with the Supreme Court. It can be filed in the lower courts and it will be acted upon expeditiously," said the presidential spokesman.

The writ of amparo is a legal remedy in which a person or group of persons may obtain a temporary restraining order if their right to life, security, and liberty is threatened or violated by a public official or private entity.

It can be filed, for free, before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, or Regional Trial Courts.

The writ is meant to protect persons from abuses by the military and police, and from extrajudicial killings. 

Picardal is no stranger to the issue of extrajudicial killings. As a member of the Coalition Against Summary Executions (Case), Picardal documented killings allegedly carried out by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) when President Rodrigo Duterte was Davao City mayor. Picardal was based in Davao City from 1977 to 1981 and from 1995 to 2011.

The DDS is allegedly responsible for the deaths of at least 1,000 people. Whistleblowers have accused Duterte himself of masterminding or leading the death squad.

Picardal began his life as a hermit in the mountains in April, after going on a two-week "Bike for Life and Peace" around Northern Mindanao where he advocated 3 appeals: end extrajudicial killings, resume peace talks with communist rebels, and lift martial law in Mindanao.  (READ: One last bike trip for the fearless Father Picx– Rappler.com 

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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