SC denies petition seeking to void search warrant vs NGO
The Supreme Court denied a petition filed by the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VF) that sought to nullify the search warrant issued against them by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
VF is a Manila-based organization involved in programs against modern-day slavery and in empowering human trafficking victims and exploited domestic workers.
In 2012, QCRTC Branch 98 Judge Evelyn Corpus-Cabochan granted the request for search warrant by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The NBI made the request claiming that the non-government organization is in possession of falsified documents used to allegedly defraud the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
VF sought to quash the search warrant but the lower court denied their bid. A motion for reconsideration was filed but was denied, prompting VF to take the case to the Supreme Court.
The high court, in a decision made public Friday, said contrary to the allegation made by the petitioner that the judge failed to ask “probing, exhaustive and extensive questions,” the 72-page transcript of stenographic notes would show that the judge extensively interrogated the NBI who applied for the search warrant.
“We believe that the questions propounded on them were searching and probing. The trial judge made an independent assessment of the evidence submitted and concluded that the evidence adduced and the testimonies of the witnesses support a finding of probable cause which warranted the issuance of a search warrant,” the high court said, in the decision written by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
The high court added that the finding of probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant made by the judge is accorded with respect by the reviewing courts.
“Here, in issuing the search warrant, Judge Cabochan sufficiently complied with the requirements set by the Constitution and the Rules of Court. Therefore, we find nothing irregular in Judge Cabochan’s issuance of the search warrant,” the high court added. RAM/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.