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Razon v. Tagitis
December 3, 2009 Brion Paolo Q. Bernardo If you can, please go beyond the summary doctrine bo!es" especially so you understand the ratio of the #ourt. $pologies for the delay $%D length" as for the length, I omitted a lot of facts I deemed irrele&ant. 'astly, please see the dispositi&e.

petition under the circumstances, $HI5E presenting a cause of action showing a .iolation of the .ictim6s rights to life, li'erty and security through State or pri.ate party action. (n )hether enforced disappearance is a proper ground for a )rit of amparo* The %mparo 3ule e7pressly pro.ides that the 8writ shall co.er e7tralegal ,illings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof. Howe.er, while the 3ule co.ers 8enforced disappearances8 this concept is neither defined nor penali9ed in this :urisdiction. Howe.er, this not a stum'ling 'loc, that will pre.ent the issuance of a writ of amparo, 'ecause ;N0E35<IN1 e.ery enforced disappearance is a .iolation of the constitutional rights to life, li'erty and security that the Supreme &ourt is mandated 'y the &onstitution to protect through its rule= ma,ing powers. >urthermore, the &ourt has sur.eyed international law and states that enforced disappearance as a State practice has 'een repudiated 'y the international community, so that the 'an on it is now a generally accepted principle of international law, which should 'e considered a part of the law of the land, and which should act upon to the e7tent already allowed under our laws and the international con.entions that 'ind us. On the elements of an enforced disappearance: ;nder the definition in the ;N &on.ention, the elements that constitute enforced disappearance are essentially fourfold( i. arrest, detention, a'duction or any form of depri.ation of li'erty* ii. carried out 'y agents of the State or persons or groups of persons acting with the authori9ation, support or ac4uiescence of the State* iii. followed 'y a refusal to ac,nowledge the detention, or a concealment of the fate of the disappeared person* and i.. placement of the disappeared person outside the protection of the law. (n rela!ing the general rules of e&idence in amparo proceedings* To gi.e full meaning to our &onstitution and the rights it protects, the

SUMMARY: Engr. Morced N. Tagitis was last seen in Jolo, Sulu. His disappearance was reported to the Jolo Police Station. It was unacted upon for a month and hencee Mary . Tagitis !Tagitis", Engr. Tagitis#s wife, filed a Petition for the $rit of %mparo with the &ourt of %ppeals against certain mem'ers of the the PNP. The &% issued the $rit of %mparo. The PNP mem'ers appealed the decision of the &% to the Supreme &ourt. They mainly dispute( ). the sufficiency in form and su'stance of the %mparo petition filed 'efore the &%* +. the sufficiency of the legal remedies the Tagitis too, 'efore petitioning for the writ* -. the finding that the rights to life, li'erty and security of Tagitis had 'een .iolated* /. the sufficiency of e.idence supporting the conclusion that Tagitis was a'ducted* 5. the conclusion that the &I01 2am'oanga was responsi'le for the a'duction* and, 6. generally, the ruling that the respondent discharged the 'urden of pro.ing the allegations of the petition 'y su'stantial e.idence DOCTRINE: (n the test for the sufficiency of a petition for )rit of amparo* To read the 3ules of &ourt re4uirement on pleadings while addressing the uni4ue %mparo situation, the test in reading the petition should 'e to determine whether it contains the details a.aila'le to the one filing the

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&ourt declares that courts in amparo proceedings should at least ta,e a close loo, at the a.aila'le e.idence to determine the correct import of e.ery piece of e.idence* and this should include those usually considered inadmissi'le under the general rules of e.idence

$hen ?unnong could not locate Engr. Tagitis, the former sought the help of another I0 scholar and reported the matter to the local police agency. ?unnong including his friends and companions in Jolo, e7erted efforts in trying to locate the wherea'outs of Engr. Tagitis and when he reported the matter to the police authorities in Jolo, he was immediately gi.en a ready answer that Engr. Tagitis could ha.e 'een a'ducted 'y the %'u Sayyaf group* Information from persons in the military who do not want to 'e identified stated that Engr. Tagitis is in the hands of the uniformed men* and according to relia'le information recei.ed 'y Tagitis, su':ect Engr. Tagitis is in the custody of police intelligence operati.es, specifically with the &I01, PNP 2am'oanga &ity, 'eing held against his will in an earnest attempt of the police to in.ol.e and connect Engr. Tagitis with the different terrorist groups. Tagitis filed her complaint with the PNP Police Station in the %3MM in &oto'ato and in Jolo, see,ing their help to find her hus'and, 'ut Tagitis#s re4uest and pleadings failed to produce any positi.e results. The une7plained uncooperati.e 'eha.ior of the @petitionersA to Tagitis#s re4uest for help and failure and refusal of the @petitionersA to e7tend the needed help, support and assistance in locating the wherea'outs of Engr. Tagitis who had 'een declared missing since Bcto'er -C, +CCD which is almost two !+" months now, clearly indicates that the @petitionersA are actually in physical possession and custody of Engr. Tagitis. Tagitis has e7hausted all administrati.e a.enues and remedies 'ut to no a.ail, and under the circumstances, Tagitis has no other plain, speedy and ade4uate remedy to protect and get the release of su':ect Engr. Morced Tagitis from the illegal clutches of the @petitionersA, their intelligence operati.es and the li,e which are in total .iolation of thesu':ect6s human and constitutional rights, e7cept the issuance of a $3IT B> %MP%3B.

FACTS: Engr. Morced N. Tagitis is a consultant for the $orld an, and the Senior Honorary &ounselor for the Islamic 0e.elopment an, !I0 " Scholarship Programme He was last seen in Jolo, Sulu. ?unnong and Muhammad %'dulna9eir N. Matli, a ;P professor of Muslim studies and Tagitis6 fellow student counselor at the I0 reported Tagitis6 disappearance to the Jolo Police Station. More than a month later , the Mary . Tagitis !Tagitis", Engr. Tagitis#s wife, filed a Petition for the $rit of %mparo !petition" with the &ourt of %ppeals !&%". The petition was directed against certain mem'ers of the %rmed >orces of the Philippines !%>P" and the Philippine National Police !PNP"( 5t. 1en. %le7ander <ano, &ommanding 1eneral, Philippine %rmy* 1en. %.elino I. 3a9on, &hief, PNP* 1en. Edgardo M. 0oromal, &hief, &riminal In.estigation and 0etention 1roup !&I01"* Sr. Supt. 5eonardo %. Espina, &hief, Police %nti=&rime and Emergency 3esponse* 1en. Joel 1oltiao, 3egional 0irector, %3MM= PNP* and 1en. 3u'en 3afael, &hief, %nti=Terror Tas, >orce &omet @collecti.ely referred to as petitionersA. The petition went on to state( Soon after the Tagitis left the room, Engr. Tagitis went out of the pension house to ta,e his early lunch 'ut while out on the street, a couple of 'urly men 'elie.ed to 'e police intelligence operati.es, forci'ly too, him

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/. Bn the same day the petition was filed, the &% immediately issued the $rit of %mparo. The 'asis for the issuance 'y the &ourt of the $rit is as follows( %t the same time, the &% dismissed the petition against the Tagitis from the military, 5t. 1en %le7ander <ano and 1en. 3u'en 3afael, 'ased on the finding that it was PNP=&I01, not the military, that was in.ol.ed. Thereafter, the &% issued an %5%3M $%3NIN1 that Tas, >orce Tagitis of the PNP did not appear to 'e e7erting e7traordinary efforts in resol.ing Tagitis6 disappearance. Petitioners appealed the decision of the &% to the Supreme &ourtEThey mainly dispute( ). +. -. /. F. G. the sufficiency in form and su'stance of the %mparo petition filed 'efore the &%* the sufficiency of the legal remedies the Tagitis too, 'efore petitioning for the writ* the finding that the rights to life, li'erty and security of Tagitis had 'een .iolated* t the sufficiency of e.idence supporting the conclusion that Tagitis was a'ducted* the conclusion that the &I01 2am'oanga was responsi'le for the a'duction* and, generally, the ruling that the respondent discharged the 'urden of pro.ing the allegations of the petition 'y su'stantial e.idence

$BN the PNP may 'e held accounta'le*

RULING: ). <es* +. <es* -. <es* /. <es* RATIO: ). In 4uestioning the sufficiency in form and su'stance of the respondent6s %mparo petition, the petitioners contend that the petition .iolated Section F!c", !d", and !e" of the %mparo 3ule. a. SPE&I>I&%55<, the petitioners allege that Tagitis failed to, in her petition( i. allege( any %&T or BMISSIBN the petitioners committed in .iolation of Tagitis6 rights to 5I>E, 5I E3T<, and SE&;3IT< in a complete manner HB$ Tagitis was % 0;&TE0, the persons 3ESPBNSI 5E for his 0IS%PPE%3%N&E, and the respondent6s SB;3&E of IN>B3M%TIBN* the a'duction was committed at the petitioners6 instructions or with their consent* any action or inaction attri'uta'le to the petitioners in the performance of their duties in the in.estigation of Tagitis6 disappearance* ii. implead the mem'ers of PNP=&I01 regional office in 2am'oanga alleged to ha.e custody o.er her hus'and* iii. attach the affida.its of witnesses to support her accusations* i.. specify what legally a.aila'le efforts she too, to determine the fate or wherea'outs of her hus'and. '. The petitioners state that a petition for the $rit of %mparo shall 'e signed and .erified and shall allege, among others, as stated in Section F of the 3ule on the $rit of %mparo( i. H!c" The right to life, li'erty and security of the aggrie.ed party .iolated or threatened with .iolation 'y an unlawful act or omission of the respondent, and how such threat or

ISSUES: ). $BN the petition for writ of amparo filed is sufficent in form and su'stance* +. $BN an enforced disappearance is a proper ground for issuance of a writ of amparo* -. $BN there was an enforced disappearance in this case*

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c.

d.

e.

.iolation is committed with the attendant circumstances detailed in supporting affida.its*I ii. H!d" The in.estigation conducted, if any, specifying the names, personal circumstances, and addresses of the in.estigating authority or indi.iduals, as well as the manner and conduct of the in.estigation, together with any report*I iii. H!e" The actions and recourses ta,en 'y the petitioner to determine the fate or wherea'outs of the aggrie.ed party and the identity of the person responsi'le for the threat, act or omission* andI The framers of the %mparo 3ule ne.er intended Section F!c" of the 3ule to 'e complete in e.ery detail in stating the threatened or actual .iolation of a .ictim6s rights. i. %s in any other initiatory pleading,the pleader must of course state the ultimate facts constituting the cause of action, omitting the e.identiary details. ii. In an %mparo petition, howe.er, this re4uirement must 'e read in light of the nature and purpose of the proceeding, which addresses a situation of uncertainty* hence the one filing the petition may not 'e a'le to descri'e with certainty how the .ictim e7actly disappeared, or who actually acted to ,idnap, a'duct or arrest him or her, or where the .ictim is detained, 'ecause these information may purposely 'e hidden or co.ered up 'y those who caused the disappearance. To read the 3ules of &ourt re4uirement on pleadings while addressing the uni4ue %mparo situation, the test in rea ing the !etition sho"# $e to eter%ine &hether it 'ontains the etai#s avai#a$#e to the one (i#ing the !etition "n er the 'ir'"%stan'es) *+ILE !resenting a 'a"se o( a'tion sho&ing a vio#ation o( the vi'ti%,s rights to #i(e) #i$ert- an se'"rit- thro"gh State or !rivate !art- a'tion. i. The petition should li,ewise 'e read in its totality, to determine if the re4uired elements=J=namely, of the disappearance, the State or pri.ate action, and the actual or threatened .iolations of the rights to life, li'erty or security=J= are present. %pplying these rules in the present case, the petition amply recites in its paragraphs / to )) the circumstances under which

f.

g.

h.

Tagitis suddenly dropped out of sight after engaging in normal acti.ities, and thereafter was nowhere to 'e found despite efforts to locate him. i. The petition alleged, too, under its paragraph D, in relation to paragraphs )F and )G, that according to relia'le information, police operati.es were the perpetrators of the a'duction. ii. It also clearly alleged how Tagitis6 rights to life, li'erty and security were .iolated when he was 8forci'ly ta,en and 'oarded on a motor .ehicle 'y a couple of 'urly men 'elie.ed to 'e police intelligence operati.es,8 and then ta,en 8into custody 'y the respondents6 police intelligence operati.es since Bcto'er -C, +CCD, specifically 'y the &I01, PNP 2am'oanga &ity, 7 7 7 held against his will in an earnest attempt of the police to in.ol.e and connect @himA with different terrorist groups.8 If a defect can at all 'e attri'uted to the petition, this defect is its lac, of supporting affida.it, as re4uired 'y Section F!c" of the %mparo 3ule. i. This re4uirement, howe.er, should not 'e read as an a'solute one that necessarily leads to the dismissal of the petition if not strictly followed. $here, as in this case, the petitioner has su'stantially complied with the re4uirement 'y su'mitting a .erified petition sufficiently detailing the facts relied upon, the strict need for the sworn statement that an affida.it represents is essentially fulfilled. Section F!d" of the %mparo 3ule re4uires that prior in.estigation of an alleged disappearance must ha.e 'een made, specifying the manner and results of the in.estigation. i. The &ourt re:ected the petitioners6 argument that the Tagitis#s petition did not comply with the Section F!d" re4uirements of the %mparo 3ule, as the petition specifies in its paragraph )) that ?unnong and his companions immediately reported Tagitis6 disappearance to the police authorities in Jolo, Sulu as soon as they were relati.ely certain that he indeed had disappeared.

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+.

The present case is one of first impression in the use and application of the 3ule on the $rit of %mparo in an EN>B3&E0 0IS%PPE%3%N&E situation. a. The %mparo 3ule e7pressly pro.ides that the 8writ shall co.er e7tralegal ,illings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.8 i. +o&ever) &hi#e the R"#e 'overs .en(or'e isa!!earan'es. this 'on'e!t is neither e(ine nor !ena#ize in this /"ris i'tion. '. The &ourt clarifies that it does not rule on any issue of criminal culpa'ility for the e7tra:udicial ,illing or enforced disappearance. This is an issue that re4uires criminal action 'efore our criminal courts 'ased on e7isting penal laws. i. Its inter.ention is in determining whether an enforced disappearance has ta,en place and who is responsi'le or accounta'le for this disappearance, and to define and impose the appropriate remedies to address it. c. The 'urden for the pu'lic authorities to discharge in these situations, under the 3ule on the $rit of %mparo, is twofold. i. The first is to ensure that all efforts at disclosure and in.estigation are underta,en under pain of indirect contempt from this &ourt when go.ernmental efforts are less than what the indi.idual situations re4uire. ii. The second is to address the disappearance, so that the life of the .ictim is preser.ed and his or her li'erty and security restored. . The a$sen'e o( a s!e'i(i' !ena# #a& in the 0hi#i!!ines) ho&ever) is not a st"%$#ing $#o'1 (or a'tion (ro% this Co"rt thro"gh the iss"an'e o( a &rit o( a%!aro. i. 2e'a"se UNDERLYING everen(or'e isa!!earan'e is a vio#ation o( the 'onstit"tiona# rights to #i(e) #i$ert- an se'"rit- that the S"!re%e Co"rt is %an ate $- the Constit"tion to !rote't thro"gh its r"#e3%a1ing !o&ers. e. >urthermore, the &ourt has sur.eyed international law and states that enforced disappearance as a State practice has 'een repudiated 'y the international community, so that the 'an on it is now a generally accepted principle of international law, which should 'e considered a part of the law of the land, and

which we should act upon to the e7tent already allowed under our laws and the international con.entions that 'ind us. i. This should ser.e as the 'ac,drop for the 3ule on the $rit of %mparo. f. %lthough the %mparo 3ule still has gaps waiting to 'e filled through su'stanti.e law, as e.idenced primarily 'y the lac, of a concrete definition of 8enforced disappearance,8 the some material, among others, pro.ide ample guidance and standards on how, through the medium of the %mparo 3ule, the &ourt can pro.ide remedies. g. The Co"rt a#so states that 'ertain evi entiar- i((i'"#ties are !resent in the A%!aro !ro'ee ing: i. >irst, there may 'e a deli'erate concealment of the identities of the direct perpetrators. E7perts note that a'ductors are well organi9ed, armed and usually mem'ers of the military or police forces. ii. Second, deli'erate concealment of pertinent e.idence of the disappearance* The central piece of e.idence in an enforced disappearance=J=i.e., the corpus delicti or the .ictim6s 'ody=J=is usually concealed to effecti.ely thwart any in.estigation The pro'lem for the .ictim6s family is the State6s .irtual monopoly of access to pertinent e.idence. iii. Third is the element of denial* In many cases, the State authorities deli'erately deny that the enforced disappearance e.er occurred. 80enia'ility8 is central to the policy of enforced disappearances, as the a'sence of any pro.en disappearance ma,es it easier to escape the application of legal standards ensuring the .ictim6s human rights. h. The 'hara'teristi's an a%!aro !ro'ee ing o( $eing s"%%ar- an o( the "se o( s"$stantia# evi en'e as the re4"ire #eve# o( !roo( 5in 'ontrast to the "s"a# !re!on eran'e o( evi en'e or !roo( $e-on reasona$#e o"$t in 'o"rt !ro'ee ings6 revea#s the '#ear intent o( the (ra%ers o( the A%!aro R"#e to have it $e'o%e si%i#ar to an a %inistrative !ro'ee ing.

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i.

Thus, in these proceedings, the %mparo petitioner needs only to properly comply with the su'stance and form re4uirements of a $rit of %mparo petition, as discussed a'o.e, and pro.e the allegations 'y su'stantial e.idence.

f.

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The threshold 4uestion for our resolution is( was there an enforced disappearance within the meaning of this term under the ;N 0eclaration we ha.e citedK a. The Convention e(ines en(or'e isa!!earan'e as .the arrest) etention) a$ "'tion or an- other (or% o( e!rivation o( #i$ert- $- agents o( the State or $- !ersons or gro"!s o( !ersons a'ting &ith the a"thorization) s"!!ort or a'4"ies'en'e o( the State) (o##o&e $- a re("sa# to a'1no&#e ge the e!rivation o( #i$ert- or $- 'on'ea#%ent o( the (ate or &herea$o"ts o( the isa!!eare !erson) &hi'h !#a'e s"'h a !erson o"tsi e the !rote'tion o( the #a&.. $. Un er this e(inition) the e#e%ents that 'onstit"te en(or'e isa!!earan'e are essentia##- (o"r(o# : i. arrest) etention) a$ "'tion or an- (or% o( e!rivation o( #i$ert-7 ii. 'arrie o"t $- agents o( the State or !ersons or gro"!s o( !ersons a'ting &ith the a"thorization) s"!!ort or a'4"ies'en'e o( the State7 iii. (o##o&e $- a re("sa# to a'1no&#e ge the etention) or a 'on'ea#%ent o( the (ate o( the isa!!eare !erson7 an iv. !#a'e%ent o( the isa!!eare !erson o"tsi e the !rote'tion o( the #a&. c. There is no 0I3E&T e.idence indicating how the .ictim actually disappeared. The direct e.idence at hand only shows that Tagitis went out of the %S< Pension House after depositing his room ,ey with the hotel des, and was ne.er seen nor heard of again. d. The undisputed conclusion, howe.er, from all concerned=J=the petitioner, Engr. Tagitis6 colleagues and e.en the police authorities=J=is that Engr Tagistis disappeared under mysterious circumstances and was ne.er seen again. e. 5i,ewise, there is no direct e.idence showing that operati.es of PNP &I01 2am'oanga a'ducted or arrested Tagitis.

g.

h.

i.

&ol. ?asim ne.er denied that he met with the Tatigits and her friends, and that he pro.ided them information that Tagitis was 'eing held 'y police officials. i. Howe.er, this is 'ased on the input of an unnamed asset. ii. He simply claimed in his testimony that the 8informal letter8 he recei.ed from his informant in Sulu did not indicate that Tagitis was in the custody of the &I01. iii. He also stressed that the information he pro.ided the respondent was merely a 8raw report8 from 8'arangay intelligence8 that still needed confirmation and 8follow up8 as to its .eracity. To 'e sure, Tagitis6s and Mrs. Tal'in6s testimonies were far from perfect, as the petitioners pointed out. i. The inconsistencies the petitioners point out relate, more than anything else, to details that should not affect the credi'ility of the respondent and Mrs. Tal'in* the inconsistencies are not on material points. To consider also that some pieces of e.idence are incompetent and inadmissi'le e.idence of is to state that in the a'sence of any direct e.idence, a court should dismiss the petition. i. %n immediate dismissal for this reason would ma,e the %mparo 3ule ineffecti.e, since it cannot allow for the special e.identiary difficulties that are una.oida'ly present in %mparo situations, particularly in e7tra:udicial ,illings and enforced disappearances. ii. To give ("## %eaning to o"r Constit"tion an the rights it !rote'ts) the Co"rt e'#ares that 'o"rts in a%!aro !ro'ee ings sho"# at #east ta1e a '#ose #oo1 at the avai#a$#e evi en'e to eter%ine the 'orre't i%!ort o( ever- !ie'e o( evi en'e7 an this sho"# in'#" e those "s"a##- 'onsi ere ina %issi$#e "n er the genera# r"#es o( evi en'e ut the &ourt must ta,e into account the surrounding circumstances and the test of reason which shall 'e used as a 'asic minimum admissi'ility re4uirement. The &ourt gleans from all these admitted pieces of e.idence and de.elopments a consistency in the go.ernment6s denial of any complicity in the disappearance of Tagitis, which is disrupted only 'y the report made 'y &ol. ?asim to Tagitis a'out her hus'and. E.en &ol. ?asim, howe.er, e.entually

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:.

denied that he e.er made the disclosure that Tagitis was under custodial in.estigation for complicity in terrorism. ased on these considerations, we conclude that &ol. ?asim6s disclosure, made in an unguarded moment, une4ui.ocally point to some go.ernment complicity in the disappearance.

/.

The PNP and &I01 are accounta'le 'ecause Section +/ of 3epu'lic %ct No. GLDF, otherwise ,nown as the 8PNP 5aw,8 specifies the PNP as the go.ernmental office with the mandate 8to in.estigate and pre.ent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, 'ring offenders to :ustice and assist in their prosecution.8 a. The PNP=&I01 is the 8in.estigati.e arm8 of the PNP and is mandated to 8in.estigate and prosecute all cases in.ol.ing .iolations of the 3e.ised Penal &ode, particularly those considered as heinous crimes.8 '. ;nder the PNP organi9ational structure, the PNP=&I01 is tas,ed to in.estigate all ma:or crimes in.ol.ing .iolations of the 3e.ised Penal &ode and operates against organi9ed crime groups, unless the President assigns the case e7clusi.ely to the National ureau of In.estigation !N I". c. 1i.en their mandates, the PNP and PNP=&I01 officials and mem'ers were the ones who were remiss in their duties when the go.ernment completely failed to e7ercise its duties in entertaining the complaints of Tagitis. d. To fully enforce the %mparo remedy, the &ourt refers this case 'ac, to the &% for appropriate proceedings directed at the monitoring of the PNP and the PNP=&I01 in.estigations and actions, and the .alidation of their results through hearings the &% may deem appropriate to conduct.

c. Holding the PNP directly responsi'le for the disclosure of material facts ,nown to the go.ernment and to their offices regarding the disappearance of Engr. Morced N. Tagitis, and for the conduct of proper in.estigations using e7traordinary diligence, with the o'ligation to show in.estigation results accepta'le to this &ourt* d. Brdering &ol. ?asim impleaded in this case and holding him accounta'le with the o'ligation to disclose information ,nown to him and to his 8assets8 in relation with the enforced disappearance of Engr. Tagitis* e. 3eferring this case 'ac, to the &% for appropriate proceedings directed at the monitoring of the PNP in.estigations, actions and the .alidation of their results* f. 3e4uiring the &% to su'mit to this &ourt a 4uarterly report with its recommendations, g. The PNP shall ha.e one !)" full year to underta,e their in.estigations* the &% shall su'mit its full report for the consideration of this &ourt at the end of the /th 4uarter counted from the finality of this 0ecision*

DIS0OSITI8E: The &ourt( a. 3uled that the disapperance of Engr. Tagitis is an enforced disappearance co.ered 'y the 3ule on the $rit of %mparo* '. $ithout any specific pronouncement on e7act authorship and responsi'ility, declaring the go.ernment accounta'le for the enforced disappearance of Engr.Tagitis*