The Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled on the validity of the search warrant issued by the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) in 2017 against the members of the Parojinog family in Ozamiz City and upheld the denial of the plea to nullify the warrant.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Edwin D. Sorongon, the CA denied the petition filed by Reynaldo E. Parojinog Jr. to quash the warrant that led to the arrests on July 30, 2017 and the filing of criminal charges against him, several members of his family, and other persons.
It also denied Parojinog’s plea to reconsider the trial court’s order that junked his motion to nullify the search warrant and to suppress the evidence gathered by the police.
The search warrant was issued by RTC Judge Cecilyn R. Burgos Villavert, while the denial of the plea to nullify the warrant was ordered by RTC Judge Catherin P. Manodon in whose sala the cases of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition were raffled for trial and resolution.
The service of the search warrant by the police resulted in a gunfight that claimed the lives of several persons, including that of Reynaldo’s father, Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr.
As a result of the service of the search warrant, criminal charges for alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition under Republic Act No. 10591, Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, illegal possession of explosives under RA 9156, Unlawful Possession of Explosive Devices, and possession of illegal drugs under RA 9165, Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, were filed against those arrested.
In May 2019, Parojinog Jr. was found guilty of possession of illegal drugs and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Parajinog Jr. filed a motion to nullify the search warrant and to suppress the evidence gathered as a result of the warrant. He claimed that the warrant was issued without probable cause because the witnesses had no personal knowledge as to whether he was in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
He also claimed that the trial court which issued the search warrant did not conduct an examination through searching and probing questions.
Judge Manodon denied his motion with a ruling that Judge Villavert, who issued the warrant, conducted examination of the records and affidavit of witness.
Parojinog Jr. elevated the issue before the CA. In denying his petition, the CA said:
“All told, the Court finds no grave abuse of discretion committed by public respondent Judge Manodon in issuing the assailed Orders. To justify judicial intervention, the abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility.
“Herein, public respondent Judge Manodon did not act in such a manner because her disposition of petitioner’s Motion to Quash the subject search warrant and Motion for Reconsideration was founded on factual and legal bases.”
Associate Justices Perpetua Susana T. Atal Pano and Raymond Reynaldo R. Lauigan concurred in the 15-page decision.