SC upholds police ban on monitoring family

Robertzon Ramirez – The Philippine Star

October 10, 2021 | 12:00am


MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed its 2019 decision on the issuance of a permanent protection order prohibiting the Philippine National Police (PNP) from monitoring a family allegedly linked to the New People’s Army (NPA).

In a resolution promulgated on June 15 and made public on Friday, the SC denied the PNP’s motion for reconsideration, upholding the court’s permanent protection order in favor of Vivian Sanchez and her two children. The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

Sanchez’s family was put under PNP surveillance after she was linked to the NPA due to her husband’s alleged association with the communist group. Her husband was killed by police in Antique in 2018.

The SC granted her request for a writ of amparo on Oct. 15, 2019, saying the evidence Sanchez presented “convincingly shows that she and her family became subject of unwarranted police surveillance due to their relationship with a suspected member of the (NPA) resulting in an actual threat to their life, liberty, and security due to the government’s unparalleled zeal in eradicating communism.”

The SC added that the PNP was gravely mistaken in its assertion that “the right to privacy, gender and power analysis are not applicable in the present case.”

Sanchez and her children, according to the high court, were targeted because she initially refused to divulge her relationship with her dead husband when she went to the funeral parlor.

The PNP claimed Sanchez was only placed under general investigation because investigators “wanted to know the identity of the unclaimed cadaver, but even after she had admitted to being the suspected member’s estranged wife, police surveillance continued and even intensified, causing her fear and anxiety for her and her children’s safety.”

The SC said while the PNP has the mandate to investigate, its duty must be balanced with Sanchez’s fundamental rights.

“Whatever information (the PNP) may have wished to obtain from (Sanchez) or her children, as witting or unwitting witnesses, is protected by spousal and filial privilege,” the SC said.

The SC also emphasized that the PNP should conduct a formal investigation “instead of a surreptitious surveillance” that infringed on Sanchez’s right to privacy.

Justice Ramon Paul Hernando maintained his dissent and voted to grant the PNP’s motion for reconsideration along with Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, according to the SC.

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