Karapatan: Release Reina Mae Nasino, two others soon; stop use of questionable search warrants, planting of evidence

After the Court of Appeals 12th Division declared void the search warrants used against activists Reina Mae Nasino, Alma Moran and Ram Bautista, rights group Karapatan echoed their families’ demand for their immediate release, and emphasized that “the use of questionable search warrants and planting of evidence against activists and dissidents should stop for good.”

“Considering all the transgressions on the rights of Nasino, Moran and Bautista, which were issues dealt with by the CA division, they should be freed immediately. In particular, Nasino, with the death of her baby and the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment she suffered from jail and police officials and other government officials, deserve justice,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.

The CA declared the search warrants used against them “void for failure to meet the standards of a valid search warrant” and deemed all evidence obtained through the said warrants inadmissible.

“This decision, the most recent in the string of numerous court decisions invalidating the search warrants issued against activists, confirms the clear, undeniable and dangerous pattern of political persecution by the government. Laws are being used or bent to effect arbitrary arrests, detention and worse, killings of activists, as in the case of the Bloody Sunday incidents in Southern Tagalog,” Palabay said.

According to the CA, the three activists’ right against unreasonable search and seizures was “blatantly trampled upon,” rendering valid their allegations of irregularities in the police operations resulting in their arbitrary arrest and detention. The Court division also found several deficiencies in the search warrants used, as it also stated questions on procedures employed by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert in determining probable cause for the issuance of the search warrants.

“Questionable search warrants, planting of evidence, while at the same time conjuring tales of non-existent criminal activities, have time and again been proven as part of a grand scheme of state forces to justify criminal trumped up charges against activists and dissidents. We demand that the victims who remain in jail should be released immediately, and those who have been released, be indemnified for the injustices and indignities committed against them,” Palabay declared.

Based on Karapatan’s documentation, there were 76 activists arbitrarily arrested and detained based on search warrants issued by Burgos-Villavert. Many have been released from prison, after they questioned the warrants in court.

Also, out of the 801 political prisoners currently in detention in the Philippines, Karapatan documented that at least 361 or 45% are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and/or explosives.

“The release of activists and dissidents unjustly detained on fabricated charges is of paramount importance, a reflection of how society, and more importantly, the State, treats criticism and political opposition. Every day that jailed activists spend behind bars is another day of injustice. The Marcos Jr. administration is equally accountable for this injustice as soon as they remain unjustly detained under his watch. Free all political prisoners now!” Palabay ended. #