The cases lodged against some leaders of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) may not prosper because these contain legal infirmities, according to Sigfrid Fortun, a known litigator.
Fortun said the writs or amparo and habeas corpus filed at the Supreme Court (SC) have glaring infirmities that weaken the cases.
INC officials are facing serious illegal detention charges at the Department of Justice after a former minister, Isaias Samson, Jr., claimed that he and his family were harassed and detained.
The SC had directed the Court of Appeals (CA) to hear the petitions for habeas corpus and amparo originally filed with the High Court on behalf of dismissed minister Lowell Menorca 2nd.
“As regards the DOJ complaint, any lawyer worth his salt knows that you file a serious illegal detention charge because it is non-bailable, and thus can be misused to embarrass and oppress no matter how flimsy the accusation may be,” Fortun said.
He said the challenge to the complainants “is to be able to factually prove in court whether all elements of the offense exist; that is, if you first hurdle the DOJ or prosecutor’s level where you establish probable cause that a crime had indeed been committed.”
“The key elements of serious illegal detention, the ones that make it serious, are simulation of public authority, inflicting serious physical injuries or issuing threats to kill the complainant. Clearly they will be hard pressed to establish these elements in these complaints,” he added.
On the case of Menorca, Fortun said the case will be heard by the CA this week.
“The only question is whether Menorca is entitled to the reliefs he seek, that the bodies be produced, so to speak, for habeas corpus; and that they be protected as far as amparo is concerned,” he said.
Fortun explained that the writ of amparo must be judiciously issued because it is an extraordinary remedy available only in extreme cases such as extra-judicial killings or enforced disappearances.
He stressed that Menorca is alive and well, and his loved ones know where he is.
“These could effectively render the petitions moot and dismissible,” the lawyer said.