PHILIPPINES: Appellants invoke UN’s decision holding government responsible for delay

(Hong Kong, May 13, 2008) The lawyers for the Abadilla Five, have invoked, as addendums to their Petition for Review on Certiorari, a decision by the United Nation Human Rights Committee, finding the government as responsible for violating their clients’ right for unduly delaying their case.

The Committee’s decision, which was adopted on March 20, has held the Philippine government violated article 14, paragraph 3 (c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) when the appellate courts — Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals (CA) — failed to conclude its review eight years on.

Lawyer Soliman Santos, who represents appellants Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos, filed their addendums on May 9, four days after the petition for review is filed. Although Santos has already been informed of the Committee’s decision, its full text has not been made available to them until May 6.

In his addendums, Santos further urges the SC to take prompt action into their petition in the wake of the Committee’s decision. It draws particular attention to the Committee decision requiring the government to “to provide an effective and enforceable remedy in case a violation has been established”.

It also once again urges the SC to prevent from sending the case back to the CA; and to ensure that a “real and honest review” is conducted. The SC’s decision to have the appellate review of case transferred to CA in January 2005 on pretext to amendments to Court Rules has itself been held unjustifiable by the Committee.

The full text of the Committee decision can be read at:

On May 5, Moon Jeong Ho, programme officer of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Urgent Appeals programme, had also sent a separate letter to SC chief justice Reynato Puno with copies sent to 14 other justices urging them to ensure that the petition and real appellate review is promptly acted upon.

Moon said the government has had obligations to implement in order to give meaning to the Committee’s decision for violation of their citizen’s rights. “As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, it must ensure that any views and decision by the UN’s Committee are enforced. The State’s credibility is at stake here”.

He also added that apart from the Abadilla Five case, court delay is an endemic problem in the Philippines. And the Committee’s decision requiring the government to provide “information about the measures taken” and to” take measures to prevent similar violations in the future” has in fact reinforced this already common knowledge.

“This decision, once effectively and adequately implemented, would have benefit to other court cases also suffering delays”, according to Moon.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-012-2008
Countries : Philippines,
Campaigns : Abadilla 5