Remedial Law

SPS. SANTIAGO v. TULFO J. PERLAS-BERNABE; G.R. No. 205039 October 21, 2015 Writ of Amparo, Extrajudicial Killings, Enforced Disappearances


Petitioners arrived at the NAIA Terminal 3 from a vacation. They waited for the arrival of their baggage but were eventually informed that it was offloaded and transferred to a different flight. As they were complaining at the Cebu Pacific complaint desk, they noticed a man taking photos of Claudine with his cellular phone. RayMart approached the man and asked what he was doing. Suddenly, the man, later identified as Ramon “Mon” Tulfo, allegedly punched and kicked Raymart, forcing the latter to fight back. Claudine joined the commotion, and was allegedly kicked and pushed by Mon. Several airport security personnel came to stop the altercation and brought them to the Airport Police Department for investigation.

Days after the incident, respondents Raffy, Ben, and Erwin Tulfo, brothers of Mon, aired on their TV program comments and expletives against petitioners, and threatened that they will retaliate. Terrified by the gravity of the threats hurled, petitioners filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo against respondents.

Then Presiding Judge Vargas issued a Resolution granting a TPO in favor of petitioners and directed respondents to file their return/answer.

In his return/answer, Ben Tulfo claimed that the statements he uttered did not involve any actual threat and that he merely expressed his strong sentiments to defend his brother.

Ultimately, the RTC dismissed the petition and ordered the dissolution of the TPO. It held that the petition is not a proper subject of a writ of amparo since the rules were intended to apply solely to cases of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.

Petitioners’ MR were denied. Hence, this petition.


Whether or not the RTC’s dismissal of petitioners’ amparo petition was correct.


The petition is bereft of merit.

In the landmark case of Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo (Manalo), the Court has already explained that the writ of amparo, under the “The Rule on the Writ of Amparo,” was intended to address and, thus, is presently confined to cases involving extralegal killings and/or enforced disappearances, or threats thereof:

As the Amparo Rule was intended to address the intractable problem of “extralegal killings” and “enforced disappearances,” its coverage, in its present form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof, x x x.

Indeed, while amparo (which literally means “protection” in Spanish) has been regarded as a special remedy provided for the enforcement of constitutional rights, the parameters of protection are not the same in every jurisdiction. 

In our jurisdiction, the contextual genesis, at least, for the present Amparo Rule has limited the remedy as a response to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, or threats thereof. 

Extrajudicial killings,” according to case law, are generally characterized as “killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or judicial proceedings,” while “enforced disappearances,” according to Section 3 (g) of R. A. 9851, “means the arrest, detention, or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.” 

Consistent therewith, the delimitation of our current writ of amparo to extralegal killings and/or enforced disappearances, or threats thereof, is explicit from Section 1 of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC, which reads:

Section 1. Petition. – The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.

While the foregoing rule, does state that the writ is a remedy to protect the right to life, liberty, and security of the person desiring to avail of it, the same section’s second paragraph qualifies that the protection of such rights specifically pertain to extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof, which are more concrete cases that involve protection to the rights to life, liberty and security. 

In this case, it is undisputed that petitioners’ amparo petition before the RTC does not allege any case of extrajudicial killing and/or enforced disappearance, or any threats thereof, in the senses above-described. Their petition is merely anchored on a broad invocation of respondents’ purported violation of their right to life and security, carried out by private individuals without any showing of direct or indirect government participation. Thus, it is apparent that their amparo petition falls outside the purview of A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC and, perforce, must fail. 

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