Wife of soldier implicated in Rebelyn slay files petition for writ of amparo

Marife Laurente Tepait, wife of Edmar “Ben” Tepait named as respondents in her petition Leoncio Pitao, alias Parago, commander of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command; “Jane and John Does;” regional police director, Chief Supt. Pedro Tango and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima.

Pitao is father of Rebelyn, a teacher who was abducted March 4 in Davao City and found dead in Carmen, Davao del Norte the next day, her body bearing torture marks and indications of rape.

Ms Tepait filed the petition late morning of March 31, just as the CHR was conducting a public hearing on the “abduction, torture, rape and killing” of Rebelyn Pitao. The petition, whose preparation was assisted by Ms Tepait’s lawyer, Heraclio Malaki, was received at 10:30 a.m. on March 31.

Malaki said a special raffle was held and the petition is now in the sala of Judge George Omelio of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14.

The writ is “a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or is threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The writ covers extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.”

Ms Tepait said her husband, a former high-ranking official of the NPA who surrendered in 1991, has been in Manila for “military education” since February 19 and yet was named by Pitao as one of the suspects behind Rebelyn’s abduction-slay in early March.

The wife said the petition was for her and on behalf of her husband and children “whose rights to life and liberty and security have been threatened by respondents.”

Ms Tepait said neighbors had been reporting to her about strangers coming to their area on highly suspicious pretext such as arriving on board a white van on March 11 and parking there without even bothering open the windows or doors.

Ms Tepait also noted the arrival of  more strangers, some of them pretending to be selling “wireless telephones” at night and leather belt the next evening, on the week of March 21.

“On the third night, three such men were found to be surreptitiously and repeatedly trudging the neighborhood’s pathways, especially near the houses of petitioner and her immediate neighbors,” Ms Tepait said.

On March 22, a neighbor’s son was flagged down by men in denim jackets parked in a gray van, asking him if he was a soldier or a military asset.

Ms Tepait said her husband was a ranking NPA officer until he left the movement in 1991.

She attached articles published in Davao City newspapers quoting Pitao as saying he would seek vengeance.

“Due to the apparent vindictiveness of respondents coupled with the imminent danger to their right to life, liberty and security, petitioner prays for the issuance of  the Writ of Amparto to protect her, her family among others, from the threats posed by respondent Pitao and his group,” Ms Tepait’s petition read.

Ms Tepait said the PNP and CHR should not require her husband to submit himself of his pictures in pursuit of their investigation.

She said in her petition that her husband’s identity should “not be made public” due to his tasks and contributions to various military intellige
nce against counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism.

“The burnout” she said, of her husband’s identity “will not only prejudice the ongoing military operations but more importantly his life and safety including those of the petitioners and their children.

The petition prayed for a temporary protection order from the court “by way of keeping her, (her husband), and their immediate family protected in a government agency or private institution capable of securing their safety” and that her husband be “protected from being publicly identified in police and Commission on Human Rights investigations.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)