The Court of Appeals has allowed the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to hear and resolve the P5.4-million damage suit filed by the protestant United Church of Christ in the Philippines against former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria M. Arroyo in connection with the alleged extrajudicial killings of five of members and the abduction of a priest from 2003 to 2006.
In a 16-page decision penned by Associate Justice Victor Isabel Paredes, the CA’s Seventh Division junked the petition filed by Mrs. Arroyo seeking the reversal of the decision issued by the Quezon City RTC on January 2012 denying her motion to dismiss the civil suit.
The UCCP insisted that Mrs. Arroyo is liable for damages as she failed “either by commission or ommission, either by manifest negligence, or by culpable acts” to fulfill her duties as President and Commander-In-Chief.”
The CA said based on its perusal of the complaint, it showed that it sufficiently states a cause of action as it stated that the victims of extrajudicial killings, who are members of the UCCP and family members of its leaders, have a right against forcible abduction, illeegal arrests, detention, and torture; it is the duty of the petitioner to respect such right; and petitioner violated such right when she ordered the implementation of OBL, which led to the extrjudicial killings, disappearances, and other illegal acts.
“Since it is apparent that evidence has yet to be presented before the RTC and any question of fact resolved through stipulations, the RTC’s denial of the motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of cause of action was proper,” the CA said.
The CA added that Mrs. Arroyo’s defenses can be passed upon and threshed out in a full-blown trial on the merits and not in a motion to dismiss.
“Clearly, the RTC’s denial of petitioner’s motion to dismiss and motion for reconsideration, were neither whimsical nor capricious. Petitioner, in praying for the issuance of the writ of certiorari, has failed to discharge the burden of proving grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in accord with the definition and standards set by law and jurisprudence,” the CA said. (Leonard Postrado)