Bayan Muna is preparing to file administrative complaints against judges responsible for what they call “illegally” procured search warrants that have resulted in numerous arrests, its chairman Neri Colmenares said yesterday.
Colmenares told the DAILY STAR that lawyers will meet with Negrenses who were arrested in police and Army raids on offices of progressive groups in Bacolod and Escalante cities on October 31 and November 1, to discuss action to be taken.
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Colmenares, in a joint statement yesterday said that "judges responsible for search warrants attended by irregularities that resulted in death and planted evidence should be made accountable.”
They pointed out that search warrants for illegal possession of firearms issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert resulted in raids in Bacolod and Escalante cities that led to the arrests of 57, of whom 13 were minors.
However, the Bacolod Prosecutor’s Office ordered the release of the majority of them for lack of evidence, Colmenares and Zarate pointed out.
“If a judge issues a search warrant on the mere bare allegations of the PNP, there must be accountability here because these searches and arrests violate rights,” Colmenares said.
There must be accountability somewhere for the trauma and the sufferings of the minors, workers and other activists who were falsely imprisoned, he added.
Zarate called on the Supreme Court to promulgate rules to ensure the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights in the issuance and enforcement of search warrants.
"With the increasing extrajudicial killings, mass arrests and harassment of activists, the opposition and critics of the Duterte administration, these indeed are compelling circumstances and measures that merit the promulgation of these rules to prevent abuse and weaponization of legal processes and violations of constitutional rights," Zarate said.
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said yesterday a ny person aggrieved by the issuance of search warrants may file administrative complaint against a judge before the Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court.
However, the search warrants issued by Judge Villavert for Bacolod and Escalante were already pronounced by Chief Justice Peralta as aboveboard and legally justified, he said.
“This is their usual ploy again using the NDF's (National Democratic Front) modus to use the law to harass law enforcers, military and the judiciary. It’s their scare tactics. They should be the ones filed with cases for serving as front organizations for the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army),” Arevalo said of the two Bayan Muna leaders.*
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