Trade unionist Dennise A. Velasco has been released from detention Tuesday, March 8, after the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) dismissed the charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, explosives filed against him.
Velasco’s release was confirmed Tuesday night, March 8, by lawyer Katherine Panguban of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) which represented him in court.
In her Facebook post, Panguban wrote:
“Trade unionist Dennise Velasco of #HRDay7 walks free after 14 months of unjust imprisonment on fabricated charges stemming from a void search warrant from Quezon City Executive Judge (Cecilyn) Villavert.”
Velasco was among seven persons arrested by policemen on International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, 2020 in Quezon City and Manila.
Those arrested included Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem and five other trade unionists, all of whom were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and explosives which they claimed to have been planted. The charges against Salem and another unionist were previously dismissed.
In his order, RTC Judge Jose G. Paneda granted Velasco’s motion to quash the search warrant issued against him and to suppress the evidence that were taken during his arrest at his Quezon City residence.
Judge Paneda ruled: “Considering that the search and seizure warrant in this case was procured in violation of the Constitution and the Rules of Court, all items seized in accused’s house, being ‘fruits of the poisonous tree,’ are inadmissible for any purpose in proceeding. Hence, the complaints filed against accused Velasco for illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions and explosives based on illegally obtained evidence have no more leg to stand on.”
Paneda also ordered Velasco’s release.