Lorenzana slams leftist solons for assailing judge who ordered arrests of activists, journalist
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (Dec. 18) expressed full support for the judge who is now under fire from the leftwing Makabayan bloc in Congress for issuing warrants that led to the arrests of activists who had been accused of having links with communist rebels.
In a statement, Lorenzana branded the accusations against Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert by the Makabayan bloc as “baseless.”
“We firmly believe that a judge of the Honorable Villavert’s caliber does not issue warrants without probable cause,” he said.
Makabayan alleged that it was Burgos-Villavert who allowed the raids on different offices of activist groups in Manila and Bacolod in 2019.
She was also accused of issuing “questionable” search warrants that led to the arrest of seven persons, including journalist Lady Ann Salem, last Dec. 10, which coincided with International Human Rights Day.
In a resolution at the House of Representatives, Makabayan bloc said Villavert seemed to be “favored” by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as source of “multiple search warrants founded on fabricated facts.”
These warrants, Makabayan said, “specifically target human rights defenders, labor and community organizers and other government critics.”
Lorenzana said Makabayan bloc was “not only impugning the character and integrity of Judge Villavert but the nation’s entire justice system as well.”
He said the Makabayan bloc accusation against Villavert “only confirmed” that members of party-list groups that belong to the bloc were fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, New People’s Army.
Defense Undersecretary Rey Mapagu, chair of Task Force Balik-Loob, also condemned the “malicious” accusations by Makabayan bloc against Villavert. Task Force Balik Loob was formed to oversee the surrender of communist rebels which rebel leaders said produced only fake rebels.
Mapagu, in a separate statement, said Makabayan bloc was “clearly overstepping their (sic) bounds as part of the legislative branch” by filing the resolution against Villavert in the guise of “an investigation in aid of legislation.”
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