Makabayan bloc says Supreme Court should probe 'factory of warrants' vs activists

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2020 04:16 PM

Makabayan bloc says Supreme Court should probe 'factory of warrants' vs activists 1
Human rights and labor rights defenders stage a protest caravan in front of Camp Karingal in Quezon City on December 11, 2020. The group slammed the arrest of 6 union organizers and a journalist on Thursday, coincidentally International Human Rights Day. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) must take "judicial notice" of a judge issuing a series of warrants against activists, according to lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc on Friday, a day after authorities arrested 6 union organizers and a journalist over alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

"The SC should take judicial notice that this is happening. Hindi ba nagtataka ang hudikatura na may factory of warrants sa isang hurisidksyon? Ang mga targets nito halos ganun na lang ang pattern," according to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate during Makabayan bloc's press conference. 

(Isn't the judiciary wondering why there is a factory of warrants in one jurisdiction? The targets fall under the same pattern.)

On Thursday, incidentally International Human Rights Day, police arrested trade union organizers Dennise Velasco, Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Raiselle Astudillo, Jaymie Gregorio, Joel Demate, and Rodrigo Esparago, and journalist Lady Ann Salem after allegedly finding firearms and explosives in their homes. 

The Makabayan bloc said all warrants came from Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 helmed by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.

"Ang isang nakakabahala ay kung paano wine-weaponize 'yung sistemang hudikatura para gamitin sa manggagawa, aktibista, ordinaryong mamamayan... Nababahala kami dahil paulit-ulit na yung warrant of arrest at search warrants ay nag-e-emanate lamang sa Metro Manila sa isang judge lang, si Judge Villavert," said Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite. 

(It's worrisome how the justice system is being weaponized against laborers, activists, ordinary citizens. We are concerned because repetitively, the arrest and search warrants all emanate from Metro Manila and from one judge, Judge Villavert.)

"Kasi nagiging modus ay pagtatanim ng mga ebdensiya laban sa aktibista," Gaite added. 

Zarate also wants the justice department to review its own manual of procedures concerning these cases.

The Makabayan bloc said they will file a resolution to investigate the alleged modus operandi of planting fake evidence to supposedly serve as basis for trumped up charges and subsequent detention.

On Friday, several human and labor rights defenders staged a protest caravan in front of Camp Karingal in Quezon City as they slammed the arrests that took place during International Human Rights Day.

In separate operations, police earlier arrested activists Amanda Echanis and Reina Mae Nasino on allegations of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. 

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