“It is ironic that our letter signed by the judge was honored. But the judge herself was not allowed to enter.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The hearing of the Tiamzon spouses was postponed when the Quezon City judge was barred from entering the the police headquarters where the trial is being held today, Aug. 12.
“Is this ID fake?” Judge Madonna Echiverri of Quezon City Trial Court Branch 81 said while flashing an identification card issued by no less than Camp Crame.
A certain Police Officer 3 Tacling asked for her identification before entering the Training Center compound and told her that he would “coordinate.” Echiverri said the police turned his back on her. The Quezon City judge then left Camp Crame but returned to the police headquarters at around 10 a.m. to re-convene the hearing.
“Do not power trip. This is power trip,” Echiverri quipped at Tacling.
Tacling, for his part, profusely apologized to Echiverri, whom a rights activist described as “fuming mad.”
The hearing is reset to Sept. 16.
Echiverri said “coordination” should have been arranged earlier as they have submitted all necessary documents to secure the ID needed to enter the premises. Trial observers, mostly from human rights activists, are required to submit their names and secure court order from Echiverri.
“It is ironic that our letter signed by the judge was honored. But the judge herself was not allowed to enter,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson, told Bulatlat.com.
The decision to transfer the venue to Camp Crame stemmed from a protest action last year that prompted the Quezon City Hall of Justice to cancel all its proceedings for the entire day. Lawyers of accused filed a motion for reconsideration. But the Supreme Court denied the motion.
Rachelle Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center told Bulatlat.com that Echiverri had now personally experienced what lawyers and other witnesses go through “due to the unbelievable security procedures” in the police headquarters.
In a hearing early this year, three lawyers namely Ameh Sato, Carlos Montemayor and Jill Santos were initially barred from entering the venue. Two more lawyers, Anton Principe and Julian Oliva Jr., were not at all allowed to enter the premises.
“Now I know how you feel,” Echiverri said, addressing Edre Olalia, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers secretary general.
Pastores said, “I hope that she would join us in our call.”
Echiverri reminded police officers to be respectful “not just to judges, but to drivers and to everyone.”