Detained rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas asks court to subpoena documents on search warrants against her

Detained 61-year old human rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas filed on Wednesday, March 17, a Manifestation and Urgent Omnibus Motion before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Calamba City appealing to the court to immediately issue a subpoena for the transmittal of records involving the application of search warrants issued against her by Manila RTC Branch 174 Judge Jason Zapanta.

Lanzanas was among those arrested during the “Bloody Sunday” dawn raids in Southern Tagalog on March 7, which resulted in arrests of four others and to the killings of nine activists. According to the police, they found three guns, ammunitions and a grenade inside Lanzanas’ home, where she was then sleeping together with her three grandchildren ages 6, 9 and 11. These allegations are being disputed by Lanzanas, as she asserts that the evidence against her were planted by those who raided her home.

“We urge the Calamba City RTC to immediately grant Lanzanas’ motion because this will give her a chance to defend herself against the fabricated allegations of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Any delay may further infringe upon her right to due process and against arbitrary arrest and detention. She should not have been in jail in the first place,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, reiterating that “Lanzanas is in no way a criminal.”

Through her counsel, Lanzanas said that without the records for the application of Search Warrant No. 21-31076 and Search Warrant No. 21-31077, she “will have no basis to assert before the Honorable Court that the subject search warrants were issued by Judge Zapanta without the requisites provided in the Constitution, among which are the existence of probable cause and the personal examination by the judge of the applicant and his or her witnesses.

“As stated in her motion, providing Lanzanas a copy of the said records is integral to her constitutional right to due process. There is a strong necessity to examine these documents because clearly, the search warrants being used against activists are being weaponized to imprison or kill them,” she said.

In the same pleading, Lanzanas also asked the court to defer the case’s arraignment and pre-trial on Friday, March 19 “until such time as the Honorable Court shall have resolved the Movant’s motion to quash or any other application for pre-arraignment reliefs.”

“We assert that Lanzanas committed no wrong and that she should be freed from prison. What is clear is that she fell victim to a fascist government’s crackdown against activists. We ask the court to let her voice be heard once she gets hold of the documents she needs. She is a mother, a grandmother of little children, and a brave activist standing firm in the defense of human rights,” said Palabay.