CA upholds ruling nullifying search warrant vs red-tagged journo, unionist | Inquirer News

CA upholds ruling nullifying search warrant vs red-tagged journo, unionist

/ 06:25 PM September 06, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal of the government through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to reverse its January 27 ruling affirming the Mandaluyong court’s decision to nullify the search warrant against red-tagged journalist Lady Ann Salem and union organizer Rodrigo Esparago.

In a three-page resolution, the appeal court’s Twelfth Division through Associate Justice Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa said government lawyers failed to raise new arguments to warrant a reversal of their earlier ruling.

“The motion for reconsideration fails to present any new and substantial matter or any cogent and compelling reason which would justify reconsideration of this Court’s ruling,” the CA said.


“Let it be emphasized that the filing of a motion for reconsideration does not impose on this Court the obligation to discuss and rule again on the grounds relied upon by the petitioner, which were mere reiterations and of the issues previously raised and thorough determined and evaluated in this Court’s decision,” it added.


Salem, editor of alternative media site Manila Today, and her companion Rodrigo Esparago were arrested on December 10, 2020, for supposed violation of Republic Act No. 10592 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act and R.A. 9516 or the Law on Explosives, after police accused them of being involved in a gun-running syndicate.

Salem’s organization operates one of the sites previously red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) for allegedly supporting the communist movement. Their arrests coincided with the observance of Global Human Rights Day.

In February 2021, the Mandaluyong RTC nullified the search warrant and declared the seized firearms inadmissible against the two. With the search warrant declared void, the cases against Salem and Esparago were dismissed.

READ: Mandaluyong court orders release of red-tagged journo, trade unionist

The CA upheld the ruling of the Mandaluyong RTC on January 27, 2023.

The OSG, in its motion for reconsideration, said the search warrant is valid as “ it satisfied the requirements of specificity” and that it was issued in accordance with the law.


It added that a general description of some items covered by the warrant should not invalidate the entire warrant.

But the Court of Appeals said, “The act of the searching officers in taking all the laptops and cellphones that they could get during the search is precisely the danger sought to be prevented by the constitutional requirement that the things to be seized must be particularly described in order that enforcement officers will not have unbridled discretion as to what articles they shall seize.”

It added that the issues of the inconsistent statements and testimonies of the witnesses and the improper implementation of the search warrants had already been considered and passed upon in its January 27 decision.

“The filing of a motion for reconsideration does not impose on the Court the obligation to deal individually and specifically with the grounds relied upon therefor, in much the same way that the Court does in its judgment or final order as regards the issues raised and submitted for decision,” the CA explained.

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“This would be a useless formality or ritual invariably involving merely a reiteration of the reasons already set forth in the judgment or final order for rejecting the arguments advanced by the movant; and it would be a needless act, too, with respect to issues raised for the first time, these being, as above stated, deemed waived because not asserted at the first opportunity,” it added.

TAGS: Court of Appeals, red-tagged

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