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ABERCA v.

VER

FACTS

Task Force Makabansa (TFM) was ordered by General Fabian Ver to


conduct pre-emptive strikes against Communist- Terrorist
underground houses. TFM raided several houses, employing in most
cases defectively judicial search warrants, arrested people without
warrant of arrest, denied visitation rights, and interrogated them with
the use of threats and tortures. A motion to dismiss was filed
by defendants, stating that 1) plaintiffs may not cause a judicial
inquiry about their detention because the writ of habeas corpus was
suspended; 2) defendants are immune from liability for acts done in
their official duties; 3) there was no cause of action. On Nov 8, 1983,
Judge Fortun granted the motion to dismiss, which prompted plaintiffs
to file a MR on Nov 18, 1983. He later inhibited himself and was
replaced Judge Lising, who denied the MR for being filed out of time.
Another MR was filed, and was only modified to include Maj.
Aguinaldo and MSgt. Balaba for officers accountable in the said
complaint.

ISSUES

1. Whether or not immunity from suit may be invoked?

2. Whether petitioners have the right to question the alleged violation


of their rights in the constitution?

3. Whether the superior officers who gave the orders are liable?

HELD

1. NO, Article 32 of the Civil Code provides a sanction to rights and


freedom enshrined in the constitution. These rights cannot be violated
just because of an order given by a superior. The rule of law must
prevail, or else liberty will perish. Even though they just followed the
orders of their superior, these do not authorize them to disregard the
rights of the petitioners, and therefore cannot be considered “acts
done in their official duties”. Article 32 speaks of any public officer or
private individual, and violation of these constitutional rights does
not exempt them from responsibility.
2. YES, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus does not prevent
petitioners from claiming damages for the illegal arrest
and detention in violation of their constitutional rights by seeking
judicial authority. What the writ suspends is merely the right of an
individual to seek release from detentionas a speedy means of
obtaining liberty. It cannot suspend their rights and cause of action for
injuries suffered due to violation of their rights.
3. YES, Article 32 speaks of the liabilities of people who are in direct
violation of the rights stated, as well as people who are indirectly
responsible for such acts. In the case at hand, the
superior officers are the ones who gave the order, and can be
considered indirectly responsible. It was also stated in the complaint
who were the ones who directly and indirectly participated in those
acts. By filing a motion to dismiss, they admitted all the facts stated in
the complaint.