CA nixes NDFP consultant’s plea to quash search warrant, suppress evidence of firearms charges

The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the petition of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Vicente Ladlad seeking to quash the search warrant and suppress the evidence gathered during the November 8, 2018 raid that led to his arrest for illegal possession of firearms.

In a recent 14-page decision, the CA Special 16th Division affirmed the January 23, 2019 order of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 93 Judge Arthur Malabaguio that denied Ladlad’s pleas.

Malabaguio had upheld the validity of the search warrant issued by RTC Branch 89 Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert on November 6, 2018, two days before authorities raided the house of Ladlad’s friends, Alberto and Virginia Villamor, in Barangay San Bartolome, Novaliches.

In ruling against Ladlad, the CA said Burgos-Villavert complied with the requirements of a valid finding of probable cause by taking into account and inquiring into the sworn affidavits of Police Superintendent Gil Torralba, Senior Police Officer 1 Anthony Morcillo, and informant Carlo de Dios.

De Dios, allegedly an errand boy of the Villamor spouses, claimed that his employer showed him an array of high-powered firearms and ammunition kept in the house. The Quezon City police claimed they validated De Dios’s statement by conductïng surveillance for three days.

The CA added that the warrant was sufficient in form as it particularly described the address of the Villamor spouses’ house.

It also said Ladlad’s claim that the policemen and the witnesses gave false and malicious declarations for the purpose of securing the search warrant should be presented as evidence during the trial.

“At this time, when the trial proper is just about to begin, petitioner cannot preempt the trial judge – herein public respondent – of the opportunity to assess the evidence to be presented by the prosecution by suppressing the same,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Manuel Barrios.

“How then can the trial judge pass judgment upon the accused if the accused himself prevents the presentation of the evidence?” it added.

The CA, however, stressed that its decision only concerned the validity of the search warrant and not the matter of whether there was evidence to establish the guilt of Ladlad and the Villamor spouses.

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