Lawyers’ group asks SC to review rules on issuance of warrants

Published November 4, 2019, 3:55 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Hanah Tabios

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) is asking the Supreme Court to review its rules on the issuance of warrants which led to the recent arrest of some activists in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

(MANILA BULLETIN)
(MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement released on Sunday evening, the group called the country’s highest tribunal to look into the rule of the issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases which they called as “may be abused and weaponized by any branch of government” to silence political dissent from the critics of the Duterte administration, as well as to slow down legitimate advocacies, instigate fear and intrigue, and penalize the exercise of basic rights to association, speech, assembly, petitions for redress of grievances, and public participation.

This as the group questioned the simultaneous raids in the offices of militant and rights groups Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Gabriela Negros Center, and National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros Occidental’s capital city.

Gabriela National Capital Region (NCR) spokesperson Cora Agovida and her husband Michael Bartolome, an officer of urban poor rights group Kadamay, were also arrested in Quezon City last week by the virtue of a search warrant for alleged illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

“In the interest of truth, due process, and justice and to ensure the independence of the judiciary, we, as officers of the court, respectfully call on the Supreme Court to look into the seemingly irregular issuance of search and arrest warrants essentially based on political designs,” the group said.

NUPL, the group who has been serving the marginalized and oppressed sectors, also proposed a review “by the appropriate bodies at the proper time and opportunity” on the rules on chain of custody in illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the non-bailability of illegal possession of explosives, the plain view doctrine, the presumption of regularity of official duties, and the use of generic John Doe warrants.

They also suggested a revisit on the rules on amparo and habeas corpus and other concrete steps to address problem areas which are being used to criminalize legitimate political activity.

NUPL said they are in search of credible and independent answers to some particular questions which stemmed based on a report that last October 30, Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Cecilyn E. Burgos-Villavert of Branch 89 reportedly had a dialogue with Metro Manila Acting Director PBGen. Debold Sinas at the Quezon City Hall of Justice.

The alleged “visitation or dialogue” occurred on the same day she issued the search warrants used in the joint police-military raids of the offices and residences of human rights defenders and people’s organizations in Negros Occidental and Manila the following day.

“Who, in the PNP, if any, endorsed the application for search warrant? Did the honorable judge hear any witness, ask and document searching questions to personally determine the existence of probable cause as mandated by the Constitution and the Rules of Criminal Procedure?,” the group asked.

“As the perceived bastion of fairness and justice, the Judiciary must relentlessly maintain its independence against actual or perceived interference and pressure exerted by other government branches. The bench and its members must not let themselves be used, or appear to be used, wittingly or unwittingly, as tools or minions of political persecution,” it added.

As a response, Supreme Court Spokesperson and Chief Public Information Officer Brian Keith Hosaka said newly appointed Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has ordered Court Administrator Midas Marquez to remind judges “to be deliberate, circumspect, and prudent with the issuances of warrants.”

But he said that Marquez was quick to respond that “the executive judges of Manila and Quezon City are really authorized to issue search warrants [that] may be implemented nationwide in certain instances” as long as legal requirements are met.

Meanwhile, militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) had earlier claimed that arresting police forces planted evidence during the series of raids, citing the alleged “tanim baril, tanim ebidensya” modus.

 
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Lawyers’ group asks SC to review rules on issuance of warrants

Published November 4, 2019, 7:55 AM

by Hanah Tabios

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) is asking the Supreme Court to review its rules on the issuance of warrants which led to the recent arrest of some activists in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

(MANILA BULLETIN)

(MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement released on Sunday evening, the group called the country’s highest tribunal to look into the rule of the issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases which they called as “may be abused and weaponized by any branch of government” to silence political dissent from the critics of the Duterte administration, as well as to slow down legitimate advocacies, instigate fear and intrigue, and penalize the exercise of basic rights to association, speech, assembly, petitions for redress of grievances, and public participation.

This as the group questioned the simultaneous raids in the offices of militant and rights groups Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Gabriela Negros Center, and National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros Occidental’s capital city.

Gabriela National Capital Region (NCR) spokesperson Cora Agovida and her husband Michael Bartolome, an officer of urban poor rights group Kadamay, were also arrested in Quezon City last week by the virtue of a search warrant for alleged illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

“In the interest of truth, due process, and justice and to ensure the independence of the judiciary, we, as officers of the court, respectfully call on the Supreme Court to look into the seemingly irregular issuance of search and arrest warrants essentially based on political designs,” the group said.

NUPL, the group who has been serving the marginalized and oppressed sectors, also proposed a review “by the appropriate bodies at the proper time and opportunity” on the rules on chain of custody in illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the non-bailability of illegal possession of explosives, the plain view doctrine, the presumption of regularity of official duties, and the use of generic John Doe warrants.

They also suggested a revisit on the rules on amparo and habeas corpus and other concrete steps to address problem areas which are being used to criminalize legitimate political activity.

NUPL said they are in search of credible and independent answers to some particular questions which stemmed based on a report that last October 30, Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Cecilyn E. Burgos-Villavert of Branch 89 reportedly had a dialogue with Metro Manila Acting Director PBGen. Debold Sinas at the Quezon City Hall of Justice.

The alleged “visitation or dialogue” occurred on the same day she issued the search warrants used in the joint police-military raids of the offices and residences of human rights defenders and people’s organizations in Negros Occidental and Manila the following day.

“Who, in the PNP, if any, endorsed the application for search warrant? Did the honorable judge hear any witness, ask and document searching questions to personally determine the existence of probable cause as mandated by the Constitution and the Rules of Criminal Procedure?,” the group asked.

“As the perceived bastion of fairness and justice, the Judiciary must relentlessly maintain its independence against actual or perceived interference and pressure exerted by other government branches. The bench and its members must not let themselves be used, or appear to be used, wittingly or unwittingly, as tools or minions of political persecution,” it added.

As a response, Supreme Court Spokesperson and Chief Public Information Officer Brian Keith Hosaka said newly appointed Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has ordered Court Administrator Midas Marquez to remind judges “to be deliberate, circumspect, and prudent with the issuances of warrants.”

But he said that Marquez was quick to respond that “the executive judges of Manila and Quezon City are really authorized to issue search warrants [that] may be implemented nationwide in certain instances” as long as legal requirements are met.

Meanwhile, militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) had earlier claimed that arresting police forces planted evidence during the series of raids, citing the alleged “tanim baril, tanim ebidensya” modus.

 
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