Vindicated once again: Supreme Court nullifies search warrants served on Tondo 3 activists
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) welcomes the Supreme Court's resolution declaring the search warrants executed in Tondo, Manila during the arrest of activists Reina Mae Nasino, Ram Carlo Bautista, and Alma Moran as void.
April 26, 2024
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers is a nationwide voluntary association of human rights lawyers in the Philippines, committed to the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights, especially of the poor and the oppressed.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) welcomes the Supreme Court’s resolution declaring the search warrants executed in Tondo, Manila during the arrest of activists Reina Mae Nasino, Ram Carlo Bautista, and Alma Moran as void. In its resolution dated August 9, 2023, the Court ruled that the evidence obtained under these warrants is inadmissible.

Affirming the decision of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court upheld the reversal of the orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 20, which denied the motion to quash the search warrants. The Court of Appeals previously found that the warrants lacked specificity in describing the place to be searched.

The search warrants stated that the house to be searched belonged to Ram, yet he only occupied a room within it, with Reina and Alma also residing on the premises. Furthermore, the addresses listed in the warrants pointed to two different units, thereby enabling law enforcers to abuse their discretion and circumvent the requirement of specificity for search warrants.

The Court also raised doubts about the existence of probable cause in the application for the search warrants, citing inconsistencies in the addresses provided by the police. The lack of probing and exhaustive questions on the part of the issuing court, presided by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert as executive judge of the Quezon City RTC, during the application for the search warrants “creates a doubt as whether the applicant and his witnesses have personal knowledge of the surrounding circumstances justifying the issuance of search warrant.”

This development marks another victory for the three activists, whose criminal cases were dismissed by the RTC of Manila for insufficient evidence. They were among many activists whose homes and offices were raided under the guise of executing search warrants to be imprisoned on fabricated charges. Its broader significance lies in emphasizing the importance of adhering to constitutional standards to uphold the right against unreasonable search and seizure and safeguard against arbitrary state action. #

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