Karapatan calls on JBC to rescind nomination of “search warrant factory” judge

Human rights alliance Karapatan called on the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to rescind its nomination of Vice Executive Judge Jose Lorenzo Dela Rosa for the position of Associate Justice in Court of Appeals, as the group asserted that the judge should be held accountable for using his court to be a “search warrant factory,” particularly those used during the Bloody Sunday raids in Southern Tagalog in March 2021 as well as the raids in indigenous Tumandok communities in Panay in December 2020.

“Judge Dela Rosa has blood on his hands for signing his name on the search warrants which led to the killing of labor leader Emmanuel Asuncion in the Bloody Sunday raids, and the killing of Roy Giganto and other indigenous people’s leaders during the gruesome raids in Tumandok communities. Nominating him for a promotion to associate justice is a mockery of our judicial system. The JBC should rescind Judge Dela Rosa’s nomination,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Asuncion, a long-time labor leader and coordinator of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cavite, was killed during the raid in the office of the Workers’ Assistance Center in Dasmariñas, Cavite on March 7, 2021. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Administrative Order No. 35 task force has recommended the filing of murder complaints against 17 policemen involved in the raid. Judge Dela Rosa also issued the search warrants which led to the arrests of labor leaders Elizabeth Camoral and Esteban Mendoza.

Meanwhile, Giganto was killed in joint military and police operations in Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog, Iloilo on December 30, 2020. Nine, including Giganto, were shot dead and 17 others were arrested. The search warrant against Marivic Aguirre — one of the 17 Tumandok arrested — was also issued by Judge Dela Rosa. Two separate resolutions by the Mambusao, Capiz RTC Branch 21 quashed the search warrants for Aguirre along with four others.

Palabay asserted that the quashal of one of the warrants issued by Judge Dela Rosa and the filing of murder charges against the policemen involved in the killing of Asuncion are “indictments of Judge Dela Rosa’s bogus search warrant factory, and he should likewise be subject to scrutiny along with those who implemented and executed the warrants in these raids. He is culpable in the violations that happened during and because of the very warrants he signed and issued.”

“Those who enable human rights violations must not be rewarded in any form — including promotions to higher government posts. Nominating Judge Dela Rosa to associate justice is not merely a mockery of justice: it also only means promoting impunity; it also means enabling if not rewarding his hand in these killings and atrocities. We assert the call that the JBC must revoke its nomination of Judge Dela Rosa and instead join the calls to investigate him and hold him accountable,” the Karapatan official ended.