Two case dismissals but no release

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    ‘Conti said the argument of the fiscal blocking the release of Salem that the dismissal is not final because they are asking for reconsideration does not hold water because the case can go on without Salem being in jail.’

    THE case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against journalist Lady Ann “Icy” Salem of Manila Today was dismissed last Feb. 5 but she continues to be in jail in Mandaluyong City.

    A drug case against Sen. Leila de Lima was dismissed last Feb. 17. She, however, remains in detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City because she still faces two more cases.

    Salem’s lawyer, Kristina Conti of the Public Interest Law Center, speaking at a rally of the journalist’s supporters in front of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court, said last Friday the Feb. 5 dismissal of the case against Salem and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago was not accompanied by a release order.

    Conti said there’s no legal reason for Salem to stay a minute longer in jail for a case that is “walang ka kwenta-kwenta (senseless).”

    Salem was arrested last December 10, while the world was marking Human Rights Day, based on a search warrant issued by Judge Cecilyn Villavert of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

    In dismissing the case against Salem, Presiding judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio declared the police officers’ search warrant void for being vague after they confiscated items not listed in the warrant.

    News reports said instead of only one laptop and one unit of cellphone as stated in the search warrant, the police took four laptops and five cellphones of different brands.

    “The raiding team did not limit themselves to the items listed in the Search Warrants… The seizure of these items is unlawful as even the ‘plain view doctrine’ is clearly inapplicable to these cases,” said the court, which also found substantial inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimonies of informants.

    “Since the sole basis of the issuance of the Search Warrants were their (informants) sworn statements and testimonies, the Court finds that probable cause was not sufficiently establish (ed),” the dismissal order stated.

    Conti said the argument of the fiscal blocking the release of Salem that the dismissal is not final because they are asking for reconsideration does not hold water because the case can go on without Salem being in jail.

    Conti said Salem, 35, is holding on admirably in detention. She shares an 8×3 feet police cell in Mandaluyong City with five other women detainees.

    “To maximize the space, they have hung up hammocks up the steel bars where some of them sleep,” said Conti.

    De Lima, on the other hand, is marking her four-year imprisonment by launching two books: “Dispatches from Crame I”and “Faith, Hope & Love: Dispatches from Crame II.”

    Reacting to the dismissal of one the three drug cases against her, De Lima, who investigated President Duterte’s alleged human rights violations when she was chair of the Human Rights Commission and when Duterte was Davao City mayor, said, “To be acquitted even in just one case, in the time of Duterte, is a moral victory.”