Home>Editorial>Opinion>Getting search warrants not that easy, PNP says as NPA ‘rebel’ turned out to be among those killed in Calabarzon raids

Getting search warrants not that easy, PNP says as NPA ‘rebel’ turned out to be among those killed in Calabarzon raids

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership has maintained that getting a search warrant is not as easy as their critics claim since judges really examine the evidence and testimonies presented by officers just like those in the series of Calabarzon anti-illegal weapons and explosives’ raids.

“With search warrants, the police simply responded to the call of our communities to be protected from individual persons found with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. If on the contrary some critics have evidence in their favor, they can go to the court to file their complaints. Otherwise, their claim of questioning the legitimacy of police operations is, as usual, left in emptiness,” said PNP spokesperson, Brigadier General Ildebrandi N. Usana.

The Police Regional Office 4-A (PRO4-A) headed by Brig. Gen. Felipe R. Natividad has been directed by PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas to handle the questions raised by critics of their raids and the families of the slain persons.

However, Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Lieutenant Gen. Antonio G. Parlade said they have discovered that one of the so-called ‘activists’ killed in the March 6 anti-criminality operations in Calabarzon region turned out to be Ariel Evangelista alias ‘Padua,’ said to be a member of the New People’s Army Sub-Regional Military Area, Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee. The military presented pictures of Evangelista clutching an M-16 automatic rifle while reportedly undergoing training in an NPA camp.

Sinas has defended the series of anti-criminality raids in Calabarzon region which left at least nine suspects dead in reported gunbattles with officers saying members of the raiding team were armed with 28 search warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 when they raided their targets’ residences.

“What is very definite here is that they implemented search warrants which ended up in the killing of nine targets and the arrest of 15 others,” the PNP chief said.

The PNP chief said the PRO4-A director is ready to answer questions raised by militant and human rights groups regarding the series of raids.

Leftist groups and other human rights organizations called for a thorough investigation into the raids which they said left nine activists dead.

Six of the slain persons were from Rizal, two in Batangas and one in Cavite, all killed in shootouts with police and Armed Forces operatives who simultaneously served the search warrants for violation of RA, said PRO4-A spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Chitadel Gaoiran.

Two of the slain suspects were identified as Ariel Evangelista and his wife Ana Mariz Lemita-Evangelista, both residents of Sitio Hulo in Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas.

Members of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s Regional Field Unit 4-A, the PRO4-A Regional Mobile Force Battalion and the Nasugbu Municipal Police Station carried out the 4:40 a.m. Saturday raid on the strength of a search warrant for violation of RA 10591 and RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Natividad said that the suspects were hit in a firefight with the raiding team and died while being taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Makati City Pabakuna

The militant Karapatan group described the Evangelistas as ‘activists fighting for fishermen’s rights’ in the province.

Karapatan identified three other fatalities as Emmanuel Asuncion, said to be a Bayan Muna coordinator in Cavite; Mark Lee Bacasno and Melvin Dasigao, both said to be members of an urban poor group in Rodriguez, Rizal.

The group identified those arrested in Laguna as Kilusang Mayo Uno officer Esteban Mendoza, Bayan-Laguna spokesperson Elizabeth Camoral and one Nimfa Lanzanas who was identified as a Karapatan member.

One Eugene Eugenio was arrested in Rizal. The man was identified by Karapatan as a member of Courage or the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees.

Police also said that loose firearms which may have been used or may be used in the commission of crimes in Calabarzon were the main targets of the simultaneous anti-criminality raids in the region.

“The PNP stands upon the strength of our existing laws. We don’t look at individuals’ profile. We look at what they have committed and violated that have caused danger to the public which the police wants to protect,” said Brig. Gen. Usana.

The official maintained anew that getting a search warrant is not as easy as their critics claim since judges really examine the evidence and testimonies presented by officers just like those in the series of Calabarzon anti-illegal weapons and explosives’ raids.

According to Usana, Sinas has also encouraged his men to intensify their drive against violators of law, more so on the strength of either arrest or search warrants in the aftermath of the Calabarzon raids.

“That’s the mission of the PNP, and we don’t mind those criticizing the efforts of our police officers who are just doing their job to serve and protect the people,” he added.

The PNP spokesperson maintained that “issuance of search warrants is as difficult as getting arrest warrants.”

“There is deposition of witnesses and the examining judge has to make probing questions. Serving of warrants also requires the presence of at least two witnesses. The operations at the least were legitimate,” he said.

He also said the same on the filing of charges against suspects. “Pagsampa po namin ng kaso, ebidensia po ang makikita at kailangang maapreciate ng judge po. Hindi yung communist tag po. The evidence of guilt must be strong and that is what our operatives saw following the serving of the search warrants at different locations in Calabarzon. That’s how police operations work, all according to the primacy of the law.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Alfred P. Dalizon
Author of the ‘Mamang Pulis’ series and Crame Files | A Journal Group reporter since 1988 and recipient of dozens of national awards from the PNP/DILG/PDEA/DDB/NAPOLCOM and the private sector | Winner of two (2) prestigious Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) for Best Investigative Report | A Finalist for another CMMA Best Investigative Report | A 3-time Journal Group Employee and Top Reporter of the Year