PASTORS of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) sought protection before the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, November 28, 2022, over the red tagging of military in Batangas.

UCCP Rev. Edwin Egar and his wife, Rev. Julieta Egar, and former barangay captain Ronald Ramos, a UCCP member, filed for a writ of amparo against several ranking military officials such as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Bartolome Bacarro, Philippine Army commanding general Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr., 2nd Infantry Division commanding officer Major General Roberto Capulong and 59th Infantry Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Teneza Jr., among others.

The writ of amparo is a remedy made available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is threatened or violated by public officials or private persons.

The respondents also urged the SC to issue a temporary protection order that will prevent the respondents from entering within a radius of one kilometer from their residence and work addresses, as well as other place frequented and harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating with them.

“Order that the Petitioners/Aggrieved Parties and any members of their immediate family be protected by a private institution capable of keeping and securing their safety, specifically the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and/or, upon written manifestation by Petitioners, any church group willing and able to provide such secure facility,” the petition read.

They also prayed for the issuance of a “production order under the Section 14 (c) of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo ordering the respondents or any persons in possession, custody or control of any designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, or objects in digitized or electronic form, which constitute or contain evidence relevant to the petition or the return, to produce and permit their inspection, copying or photographing by or on behalf of the Petitioners.”

Lawyer Gilbert Andres, legal counsel of the petitioners, said they have been experiencing intimidation, threatening as they alleged them of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Una po, meron pong mga pumupunta po na personnel ng 59th IB... pinapasuko po sila. They are being asked; they are being forced to surrender to the barangay... because they are allegedly supporting the New People’s Army. Although kung tanungin naman po ang 59th IB kung meron po silang mga ebidensya, wala naman po silang mabibigay na ebidensya,” he said.

“Lastly, there’ve also these text messages that... ex-barangay captain Ronald Ramos actually received. And these text messages actually warned him that there would be a military-police operation like the Bloody Sunday military operation,” he added.

Julieta said she had not been with her husband for over two weeks already amid the threat of a house search and another Bloody Sunday incident.

They want the AFP chain of command to conduct an investigation against the respondents and to reassign particularly those assigned in their province.

In March 2021, nine individuals who were all affiliated with various activist groups were killed during the simultaneous conduct of police operations in Calabarzon. It was tagged the bloody Sunday.

The AFP said it is yet to receive a copy of the petition. (SunStar Philippines)