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Bacolod court voids search warrant from QC court vs 6 activists

/ 05:14 PM March 09, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Activists have scored another victory, this time, courtesy of Bacolod City Regional Trial Court for voiding a search warrant issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

In an 18-page order, the Bacolod RTC Branch 42, through acting Presiding Judge Ana Celeste P. Bernad, has dismissed the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition case filed against activists Karina Mae De La Cerna, Cherryl Catalogo, John Milton Lozande, as well as a similar case filed against Proseso Quiatchon, Albert De La Cerna and Noli Rosales.

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National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) President Atty. Edre Olalia said one of the handling lawyers for this case is Atty. Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen. He is still recuperating after he was stabbed in the head early this month.

The criminal cases against the said activists were filed after the authorities implemented a search warrant issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, leading to the discovery of firearms and ammunition.

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In issuing a search warrant, under the rules, there has to be the following: 1. probable cause; 2. probable cause must be personally determined by the judge; 3. the judge must examine in writing and under oath the complainant and the witnesses; 4. the applicant of the search warrant and the witness/es must testify only on pieces of information that he or she knows and 5. the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and things to be seized.

However, in this case, the Bacolod Court noted that the search warrant “failed to describe the place with particularity” even if, during the actual search, the police knew the areas that needed to be examined.

“There was, therefore, in this case, an infringement of the constitutional requirement that a search warrant particularly describes the place to be searched; and that infringement necessarily brought into operation the concomitant provision that the Constitution guarantees the right of the people to secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,” the court said.

The court further stated that all the evidence obtained, such as the firearms and other materials, shall be inadmissible.

This is the second time that a trial court has nullified a search warrant issued by QC RTC Judge Villavert. The first was the case of lady journalist Lady Ann Salem who was recently ordered released by the Mandaluyong Court.

Aside from the failure to specify the items and areas to be searched, the Mandaluyong court also noted the inconsistencies of the informant and the police officers about Salem’s alleged participation in gun-running activities and dates of actual deliveries of firearms.

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TAGS: Activists, Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, Bacolod, NUPL, Redtag
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