Calabarzon raids covered by 42 search warrants

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    POLICE operations carried out last March 7 in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon) that resulted in the killing of nine activists and arrest of six others were covered by 42 search warrants granted by the Manila Regional Trial Court.

    In a report to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta dated March 12, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said a total of 63 applications for search warrants were filed by the police on March 1 with the Manila RTC.

    It will be recalled the SC has allowed executive judges and vice executive judges of the Manila and Quezon City RTCs to act on application for warrants by the PNP, NBI, PDEA, Bureau of Customs and the Anti-Crime Task Force for heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and violations of the Comprehensive and Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, among others,

    “The 63 applications were heard by four judges in two days. Of the 63 applications, 42 were granted, 19 were denied while 2 were withdrawn,” Marquez said.

    He said that nine applications were also filed with the Antipolo RTC, of which 4 were granted, 4 denied and 1 pending.

    Though Marquez did not name the judges who issued the warrants, earlier media reports identified Manila RTC first vice executive Judge Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa issued at least three warrants while Manila RTC Branch 174 Judge Jason Zapanta issued one that were used in the “Bloody Sunday” operations.

    Police used one of Dela Rosa’s warrants to search the home of Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, one of those killed in the operations. Asuncion was the Bayan secretary general in Cavite.

    Police used the warrant issued by Zapanta for the Nasugbo, Batangas residence of couple Ariel Evangelista and Chai Lemita Evangelista. The Evangelistas, who were also among those killed, were members of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan.

    The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has urged the Department of Justice to meet with the families and lawyers of the nine activists killed to prove it is serious in its investigation on the incident.

    The group also said the cops who took part in the operations that also resulted in the arrests of six other activists should be placed under preventive suspension.