Bayan Muna questions NCRPO’s Sinas’ talks with judge who issued search warrant
MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna party-list has questioned the move of Metro Manila’s top cop to talk with the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge who allowed police officers to search Bayan Muna and Gabriela offices in Negros Occidental.
In a statement on Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate sought an explanation on why National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Acting Director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas conducted a ‘dialogue’ with Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert on Thursday — hours before the raid in Bacolod.
Villavert’s Branch 89 issued a search warrant that authorized teams from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to raid the said offices, where 57 individuals including 10 minors were arrested for allegedly participating in a firearms and explosives training.
“Ano ang rason sa meeting ni Judge kay PNP NCRPO Chief Sinas a day before mag-isyu ng warrant?” Zarate asked.
(What’s the reason for the meeting between the Judge and PNP NCRPO Chief Sinas a day before the warrant was issued?)
The lawmaker was referring to a Facebook post on Thursday, at around 6:50 p.m., by a profile with the name “Pulis Kamuning Magiting” — supposedly referring to the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 10.
The post showed Sinas entering the QC Hall of Justice and eventually talking with Villavert.
“Kamuning Police Station, October 30,2019 at about 5:00PM, NCRPO Acting Regional Director, POLICE BRIGADIER GENERAL DEBOLD M SINAS accompanied by PLTCOL LOUISE BENJEI P TREMOR, Station Commander conducted visitation and dialogue with Eexcutive Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert at HOJ,QC,” the post said.
Kamuning Police StationOctober 30,2019 at about 5:00PM, NCRPO Acting Regional Director, POLICE BRIGADIER GENERAL…ADVERTISEMENT
“What is the basis for the application of search warrant? Ano ang basehan ng RTC QC Judge sa pag-isyu ng search warrant? May witness ba na tinanong ng totohanan para malaman kung meron nga bang probable cause?” he added.
(What’s the basis of RTC QC Judge in issuing a search warrant? Is there a witness and probable cause?)
Zarate and Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares also questioned why a Quezon City court was responsible for a search warrant that would take place in a province in Visayas.
“For the sake of transparency, we are asking that the Judge make public the “special docket book” which is required under Sec. 12 Chapter V of AM No. 03-8-02-SC, because it appears that there is no basis for the search warrant and the intention was to harass progressive groups in Bacolod,” Colmenares said.
“In the first place why was the warrant requested in QC when it will be served in Negros? Did the OIC PNP Chief endorse it?” Zarate again asked. “Under the rules, the judge must ensure that the application is endorsed by the head of agency, otherwise she would be violating the rules for issuing the warrant.”
Colmenares called on the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to review the actions of Villavert.
“We are asking the Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice Peralta to review the actions of a QC RTC Judge, and for SC to provide mechanisms to discipline judges who abuse legal processes and merely accede to baseless applications for search warrant by state forces,” he urged.
“Such grave abuse of power resulted in the deprivation of liberty of numerous legitimate activists, in violation of their constitutional rights,” Colmenares explained.
INQUIRER.net has contacted NCRPO’s Public Information Office for its side of the issue but they have yet to reply as of posting time.
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