Guazon v. De Villa, GR 80508, 30 January 1990
The forty-one (41) petitioners alleged that the “saturation drive” or “aerial target zoning” that were conducted in their place in Tondo Manila were unconstitutional. They alleged that there is no specific target house to be search and that there is no search warrant or warrant of arrest served. Most of the policemen are in their civilian clothes and without nameplates or identification cards. The residents were rudely rouse from their sleep by banging on the walls and windows of their houses. The residents were at the point of high-powered guns and herded like cows. Men were ordered to strip down to their briefs for the police to examine their tattoo marks. The residents complained that they’re homes were ransacked, tossing their belongings and destroying their valuables. Some of their money and valuables had disappeared after the operation. The residents also reported incidents of maulings, spot-beatings and maltreatment. Those who were detained also suffered mental and physical torture to extract confessions and tactical informations.
The respondents said that such accusations were all lies. Respondents contends that the Constitution grants to government the power to seek and cripple subversive movements for the maintenance of peace in the state. The aerial target zoning were intended to flush out subversives and criminal elements coddled by the communities were the said drives were conducted. They said that they have intelligently and carefully planned months ahead for the actual operation and that local and foreign media joined the operation to witness and record such event.
Whether or not the saturation drive committed consisted of violation of human rights.
It is not the police action per se which should be prohibited rather it is the procedure used or the methods which “offend even hardened sensibilities” .Based on the facts stated by the parties, it appears to have been no impediment to securing search warrants or warrants of arrest before any houses were searched or individuals roused from sleep were arrested.
There is no showing that the objectives sought to be attained by the “aerial zoning” could not be achieved even as the rights of the squatters and low income families are fully protected. However, the remedy should not be brought by a taxpayer suit where not one victim complaints and not one violator is properly charged.
In the circumstances of this taxpayers’ suit, there is no erring soldier or policeman whom the court can order prosecuted. In the absence of clear facts no permanent relief can be given.
In the meantime where there is showing that some abuses were committed, the court temporary restraint the alleged violations which are shocking to the senses.
Petition is remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Manila.