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RTC voids search warrants vs. suspected NPA members

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

There is no reason yet for the six arrested members of the left-leaning groups linked to the New People’s Army to rejoice, after Bacolod Regional Trial Court Branch 42 Judge Ana Celeste Bernad, voided the search warrants issued by a Quezon City Regional Trial Court against them, who were arrested in Bacolod City, in 2019,  Army spokesperson Maj. Cenon Pancito III said.

What was decided on was the motion to quash  the validity of the search warrant, and not the merits of the case yet, Pancito stressed.

In her resolution dated February 18 but received on March 8 by the National Union of People’s Lawyers, Bacolod RTC Branch 42 Judge Ana Celeste Bernad , declared  that her decision to quash the search warrants was made, after conducting an ocular inspection of the site searched on January 29, this year.

The court took note that while the search warrant identifies the place as No. 122 Ilang-Ilang Street, Brgy. Bata, Bacolod City, but the address,  upon entry, was found to comprise of  three structures inside the compound consisting of  a lot of 375 square meters.

Hence, the warrant “failed to describe the place with particularity for the manifest intention thereof is that the search shall be confined strictly to the place so described.

The NUPL said in a statement it issued that the decision, in effect, is a step to acquit the accused Karina Mae De La Cerna and Cherryl Catalogo, John Milton Lozande,  Proseso Quiatchon, Albert De La Cerna and Noli Rosales.

The accused were arrested after joint  group of police and army troopers served the search warrants issued by Judge Burgos-Villavert of RTC Quezon City on the  office of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Bacolod City on October 31, 2019.Pancito emphasized that the accused are facing multiple cases, pending in other court salas.

He also said that government prosecutors have already filed the motion for reconsideration.

“We are still hoping for the best after this setback, especially when the proper trial begin,” Pancito said.

Julius Dagatan, media liaison and deputy secretary general of Karapatan- Negros, said the court rulings proves the innocence of the respondents, and that the charges against them are fabrication.

He added that this shows “the blatant use of the law by the state against political dissenters.”

“We will continue to fight for the people as long as there is a culture of fear under the tyrannical rule of the Duterte administration,” Dagatan said.*

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