“It is absurd that the Mandaluyong court saw the inconsistencies and defects of the narratives and evidence provided by the police in arresting Esparago and Salem but the same set of facts were ignored by QC and Manila courts.”
By MANILA TODAY
Reposted by Bulatlat.com
MANILA – Families and colleagues of the five detained trade unionists called as “absurd and mind boggling” the decision of the local courts dismissing the motions filed by their lawyers.
In separate decisions, Manila Judge Bibiano Colasito and Quezon City Judge Kathleen Dela Cruz-Espinosa said that the findings of the judge who issued the search warrants “have to be respected or given the benefit of the presumption of regularity.”
Both judges said the five labor organizers should then go to trial in order to contest the search warrants used for their arrests.
Joel Demate, Romina Astudillo, Mark Ryan Cruz, and Jaymie Gregorio Jr., and Denisse Velasco were among the HRD7, or those arrested on Dec. 10, 2020 in simultaneous police raids. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Two of the seven – Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem and labor organizer Rodrigo Esparago – were ordered released in February, with the Mandaluyong court’s voiding of the search warrant. All search warrants used during the Dec. 10 raids were issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.
Katherine Panguban, one of the lawyers of HRD7, retorted in Filipino, “What did the Mandaluyong court see that the Manila and Quezon City courts could not, or refuse, to see?”
It can be recalled that Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio of Mandaluyong Branch 209 declared that the search warrant used to enter Salem’s Mandaluyong home is null and void, rendering the firearms and explosives purportedly found in their possession as inadmissible evidence.
In her ten-page decision dated Feb. 5, 2021, Quisumbing-Ignacio noted the numerous material inconsistencies in the search warrant used.
Panguban considers Burgos-Villavert’s issued warrants a “general warrant,” citing failure to particularly describe the items to be seized.
“It is absurd that the Mandaluyong court saw the inconsistencies and defects of the narratives and evidence provided by the police in arresting Esparago and Salem but the same set of facts were ignored by QC and Manila courts,” said Karapatan Metro Manila in a statement.
The human rights group said that there is no basis in prolonging the detention of the labor activists, affirming that the case against them is clearly politically-motivated.
“We are urging the Supreme Court to take notice of the continuing injustice resulting from the weaponization of judicial processes by the Duterte government in waging a crackdown on activists and opposition forces,” Karapatan-Metro Manila said. “The SC should immediately enact reforms so that the modus operandi of the police and their accomplices, which relies on factory of search warrants, will not be used again.”
Demate’s legal counsel filed a motion to quash the warrant and suppress the evidence on February 22. This was denied on April 22, exactly two months since the Demate and Velasco’s camp filed the motion. A motion for reconsideration was then filed on May 2 but was again denied five days later.
On the other hand, Cruz, Gregorio, and Astdillo’s legal counsel filed the same motion on March 22 but was denied on May 2. Similarly, a motion for reconsideration was filed on May 10.