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MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld a ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) denying the petition for writ of amparo filed by Rodolfo Lozada Jr. in connection with the aborted US$ 330-million NBN-ZTE project.
In an en banc decision promulgated on April 24, 2012, the SC denied Lozada's petition for review for being moot and academic.
"The Court of Appeals' denial of the privilege of the writ of amparo is hereby affirmed," the SC said.
Lozada"s petition was filed in Lozada's behalf by his brother, Arturo over Rodolfo's claim that he was kidnapped by government security forces after he arrived from Hong Kong in February 2008 to prevent him from testifying at the Senate hearing.
Arturo admitted before the CA's 17th division that he had no direct knowledge about the circumstances when his brother arrived from Hong Kong in February 2008.
Named respondents in the writ of amparo case were then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita; Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Avelino Razon, Jr.; Aviation Security Group agent Rodolfo Valeroso and Manila International Airport Assistant General Manager for Security Angel Atutubo.
The CA dropped Mrs. Arroyo as respondent, stressing that a sitting head of state cannot be sued, and that as President, Mrs. Arroyo was immune from civil and criminal suits.
In its ruling, the SC said that its decision "has nothing to do with the substance or merits surrounding the aborted deal of the Philippine government with the National Broadband Network and ZTE Corp., or any allegation of…Lozada regarding the same."
"There is only one issue that we decide today – whether circumstances are adequately alleged and proven by petitioner Lozada to entitle him to the protection of the writ of amparo," the SC said.
The petition arose from the alleged corruption scandal precipitated by a transaction between the Philippine government, represented by the National Broadband Network (NBN), and ZTE Corp. (ZTE), a Chinese manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.
Former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Director General and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri sought the services of Lozada as an unofficial consultant in the NBN-ZTE project.
In its decision, the SC said, "the writ of amparo is an independent and summary remedy that provides rapid judicial relief to protect the people's right to life, liberty and security. Having been originally intended as a response to the alarming cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country, it serves both preventive and curative roles to address the said human rights violations."
"It is preventive in that it breaks the expectation of impunity in the commission of these offenses, and it is curative in that it facilitates the subsequent punishment of perpetrators by inevitably leading to subsequent investigation and action," the SC said.