Rights lawyers move to dismiss case vs Baby River’s mom, 2 other activists
MANILA, Philippines — Three activists, including Reina Mae Nasino whose baby died while she was in detention, have asked the Manila court to dismiss the illegal possession of firearms and explosives case against them after the Court of Appeals nullified the search warrant issued that led to their arrest.
In a three-page joint manifestation with motion, Nasino, Alma Moran, and Ram Carlo Bautista, through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) told the Manila Regional Trial Court that the case against them could no longer push through because the evidence gathered using the void search warrant are already inadmissible.
“With the assailed search warrants already declared null and void, no valid legal process could have warranted the invasion of the searched premises, where the movants were arrested. Hence, any evidence allegedly seized therefrom can no longer be used for any purpose in any proceeding, including the instance cases,” read the motion.
The Manila RTC Branch 20, in 2020, denied the bid of Nasino and two others to dismiss the case filed against them, citing a defective search warrant. But the Manila court said Quezon City RTC Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert, who issued the search warrant, enjoys the presumption of regularity.
But the Court of Appeals’12th Division, through Associate Justice Emily San Gaspar-Gito said the search warrants failed to meet the standards of a valid search warrant.
Among the errors cited by the Court of Appeals are the multiple addresses of accused Bautista but none of which was correct. The CA added that the search warrant also failed to indicate the particular places to be searched, nor did Villavert conduct searching questions to the police applying for a search warrant.
The Court of Appeals also declared void all the pieces of evidence seized using the nullified search warrant.
READ: Court of Appeals voids warrants vs detained activists
“It would be the height of injustice for movants to continue being tried with evidence that, in law, has been considered fruits of the poisonous tree,” the motion further stated.
The search warrants issued by the QC Court led to the arrests of dozens of activists in 2019, including Reina Mae Nasino whose plight resulted in local and international criticism after she gave birth to a daughter in detention. Her daughter succumbed to illness months after she was born following a court’s ruling to separate Baby River from her mother.
Human rights group Karapatan said of the 76 arrested individuals based on Villavert’s search warrant, only 22 remained in detention, while two are out on bail.
The rest have been freed after the charges against them were dismissed.
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