Respondent Magtanggol B. Gatdula filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Amparo directed against petitioners Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, et al. Gatdula wanted De Lima, et al. “to cease and desist from framing up Petitioner [Gatdula] for the fake ambush incident by filing bogus charges of Frustrated Murder against him in relation to the alleged ambush incident.”
Instead of deciding on whether to issue a Writ of Amparo, the judge issued summons and ordered De Lima, et al. to file an Answer.
The case was set for hearing. The judge noted that the Rules of Court apply suppletorily in Amparo cases.
Judge Pampilo proceeded to conduct a hearing on the main case, even without a Return nor an Answer, and ordered the parties to file their respective memoranda.
The RTC rendered a “Decision” granting the issuance of the Writ of Amparo, and the interim reliefs prayed for.
The RTC denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by De Lima, et al.
Petitioners thus came to this Court assailing the RTC “Decision” through a Petition for Review on Certiorari via Rule 45.
Whether or not a Petition for Review under Rule 45 is the proper remedy in this case.
The remedy of the Writ of Amparo is an equitable and extraordinary remedy to safeguard the right of the people to life, liberty and security as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. The Rule on the Writ of Amparo was issued as an exercise of the Supreme Court’s power to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. It aims to address concerns such as, among others, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Due to the delicate and urgent nature of these controversies, the procedure was devised to afford swift but decisive relief.
It is the Court’s view that the “Decision” granting the writ of Amparo is not the judgment or final order contemplated under this rule. Hence, a Petition for Review under Rule 45 may not yet be the proper remedy at this time.
The confusion of the parties arose due from the procedural irregularities in the RTC.
The insistence on filing of an Answer was inappropriate. It is the Return that serves as the responsive pleading for petitions for the issuance of Writs of Amparo. The requirement to file an Answer is contrary to the intention of the Court to provide a speedy remedy to those whose right to life, liberty and security are violated or are threatened to be violated. In utter disregard of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, Judge Pampilo insisted on issuing summons and requiring an Answer.
The procedural irregularities in the RTC affected the mode of appeal that petitioners used in elevating the matter to this Court.
Procedural rules are meant to assist the parties and courts efficiently deal with the substantive issues pertaining to a case. When it is the judge himself who disregards the rules of procedure, delay and confusion result.
Simply dismissing the present petition, however, will cause grave injustice to the parties involved. It undermines the salutary purposes for which the Rule on the Writ of Amparo were promulgated.
In many instances, the Court adopted a policy of liberally construing its rules in order to promote a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding.
The rules can be suspended on the following grounds: (1) matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (2) the existence of special or compelling circumstances, (3) the merits of the case, (4) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules, (5) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (6) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.
In the interest of justice, the Court RESOLVES to NULLIFY all orders that are the subject of this Resolution issued by Judge Pampilo, and DIRECT Judge Pampilo to determine within 48 hours from his receipt of this Resolution whether the issuance of the Writ of Amparo is proper on the basis of the petition and its attached affidavits.