DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday, November 19, warned left-leaning groups against intimidating or harassing judges who are asked to issue search warrants.
“Please do not harass our judges and insult their wisdom to decide on the necessity of issuing a search warrant. Judicial independence must be respected. Judges should be free from the improper influence of other sectors and even other branches of government in exercising their mandate," Año said in a statement.
“Let us allow them to do their jobs without fear of harassment or intimidation. Each branch of the government has its own duty and it is the job of the judiciary to assess the facts and circumstances surrounding the request for a search warrant and issue the corresponding order if deemed necessary. In the same manner, it is the job of law enforcers to protect the citizens and the State from those who instigate the people to bear arms against the government,” he added.
Año issued the statement after a Bayan Muna Party-list representative slammed some Regional Trial Court judges who issued search warrants to allow the police to raid the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod, Negros Occidental and other parts of the country in the past weeks.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and chairperson Neri Colmenares said the judges who issued the search orders should be held liable because their actions allegedly led to violations of certain rights.
In defense, Año said that a judge follows certain procedures before issuing such order.
“Issuing a search order is not done out of the judges’ whim and caprices. As lawyers and officers of the court, they should be the first to respect the acts of the court,” he said.
Año, however, expressed support for the creation of an independent armed unit patterned after the United States Marshall Service to secure the judiciary and its members.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said Zarate refused to participate in a dialogue suggested by the military following the series of raids on their offices.
Arevalo said they are no longer surprised that the left-leaning group leaders refused their request to sit down and discuss the matter.
“We surmise that they would not want to be confronted with mounting documentary and testimonial evidence that shall establish what we have been saying all along about CTG (communist terrorist group) infiltration; of transfer of funds from foreign funding agencies to the CTG through witting or unwitting left-leaning organizations as conduits; the deceptive recruitment and exploitation of minors and indigenous peoples to be New People’s Army (NPA) Cadres and fighters; the exploitation of issues involving women and children; and the alleged abuses of human rights,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Earlier, Arevalo invited solons and other concerned individuals to a dialogue amid claims by the left-leaning group that the police planted evidence during the raids.
He noted that the 32 firearms, 130 rounds of ammunition and five pieces of explosives were too glaring to ignore and too many to claim that these were “planted.”
“We nonetheless make our continuing offer for people and organizations who genuinely desires to know why we in the AFP assert that ‘red-tagging’, ‘vilification’, ‘crackdown’, ‘planting of evidence’ among the many terms they used are merely for purposes of propaganda are meant only to court sympathy,” said Arevalo.
“Those words that the enemies of peace and progress use to tag the AFP--fascists and human rights violators--are meant to demonize soldiers who die saving children from perdition in the crutches of the NPA; who, while responding to the people’s shout for help, perish to the NPA’s treacherous attacks; who offered the ultimate sacrifice while fighting the NPA that burns heavy equipment used to build roads, bridges, and school buildings,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)