‘Factory of warrants’? Sinas points Makabayan bloc to judiciary
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Debold Sinas on Thursday distanced himself from Makabayan Bloc’s concern over the issuance of search warrants against activists and critics, which was being used as a basis by police to conduct raids and arrests.
In an interview on CNN Philippines’ The Source, Sinas pointed out that the power of the judiciary to issue warrants is well-entrenched in the Constitution.
“I could not comment on that ma’am, nasa kanila [Makabayan bloc] po yun. Kasi separate ang trabaho sa judiciary… Kung gusto nila [Makabayan bloc] kumuha ng feed back sa judiciary dapat sa judiciary at hindi kami,” Sinas said when asked about the group’s concern that several raids conducted against activists was based on four search warrants issued by
“I think we could ask diyan sa mga nag-apply ng search warrant. They [Makabayan bloc] can also ask the Judge [Villavert] kasi I could not comment on that kung bakit siya ang nag-apply,” he added..
(Let’s ask those who applied for the search warrant. They can also ask the Judge because I cannot comment on why Judge Villavert applied for these warrants.)
The Makabayan bloc earlier filed a resolution at the House of Representatives seeking an inquiry into the Dec. 10 raids, which led to the detention of Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem and union organizers Dennise Velasco, Joel Demate, Rodrigo Esparago, Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Raiselle Astudillo, and Jaymie Gregorio.
The group also petitioned the Supreme Court last December 12 to take a closer look at the way lower courts had been issuing search warrants, which they said were being “weaponized” by government security forces to silence activists and critics. The solons further claimed that the respondent PNP appeared to follow a certain “pattern.”
The petition stemmed from the issuance of warrants by Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 that led to the raids and arrests of activists.
Sinas said the PNP follows the procedure in terms of applying for warrants.
“Kasi nga there is always a guidance diyan, kasi alam ko sa initial briefing, si Judge na pwede mag-issue ng search warrant anywhere in the country. Kung baga may authority siya from the Supreme Court na pwede siya mag-issue ng search warrant anywhere in the country,” he said.
(Judge can issue a search warrant anywhere in the country. The high court gave her authority to issue search warrants anywhere in the country.)
Asked if he personally knows Villavert, Sinas said he only met the controversial judge during a courtesy call when he was then chief of Metro Manila police.
“I met her kasi nga during sa NCRPO [National Capital Region Police Office], umikot po ako sa mga judges sa Quezon City, sa may Maynila. Iyong ibang judges sa RTC, dinalaw ko as part of my function as regional director of NCRPO,” he said.
[I met her because it is my function as the regional director of NCRPO to pay a visit to all judges.]
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