Courts becoming warrant factories in AFP-PNP operations targeting civilians — farmers

Judges who issued search warrants for Bloody Sunday victims are ‘killers in robe’

Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the judges who issued the search warrants for the Bloody Sunday operations are killers in robe. “We particularly single out the following judges who willingly and consciously issued search warrants that led to the brutal extrajudicial killing of nine individuals in what is now known as the Bloody Sunday massacre in Southern Luzon provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal.”

These judges have blood on their hands:

First Vice Executive Judge Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa of Manila RTC Branch 4. He issued the warrants for Emmanuel Manny Asuncion, Elizabeth Camoral, and Esteban Mendoza. Asuncion was brutally killed, Camoral was able to post bail while Mendoza is still in detention for trumped-up non-bailable cases.

Presiding Judge Jason Zapanta of Manila RTC Branch 174 issued the warrants for Anna Mariz Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista. The couple was possibly tortured before they were gunned down in the presence of their 9-year old son.  

Based on information from the Office of Court Administrator, on March 1, a total of 63 applications for search warrants were filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, to be served in different areas in Judicial Region 4A. The Executive Judge (EJ) and three Vice Executive Judges (VEJs) heard the applications — 17 applications were heard by the EJ, 16 by the 1st VEJ, and 15 each by the 2nd and 3rd VEJs. All of the 63 applications were heard only in two days. Forty-two were granted, 19 were denied, while 2 were withdrawn.

The serving of the warrants on March 7 resulted in 9 dead, and 4 arrested activists — all known civilians and members of red-tagged progressive organizations.

KMP said the courts and judges fast-tracked the review and approval of the search warrant applications, contrary to PNP Chief Debold Sinas’ claim that it is hard to acquire search warrants.

“With a snap of a finger, these judges approved the search warrant applications and gave blanket authority to the AFP and PNP-CIDG’s Coplan AsVal. Court Administrator Midas Marquez cannot easily absolve the involved judges nor feign innocence over the killings. The concerned judges are fully aware of the possibilities once police units serve the warrants. Alam natin ang record ng pulis. Posibleng may mamatay at nangyari na nga. Hindi pwedeng walang kasalanan ang mga huwes na naglabas ng search warrants,” says KMP leader Danilo Ramos.

KMP said courts have conveniently become factories of search and arrest warrants that are being used to persecute activists and known government critics. ###

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