Jul 17, 2021 @ 19:21

PNP regional spox gloats: Quashal of warrants against Tumandok men ‘did not change anything’

Even though policemen of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Western Visayas office were ruled to have used void search warrants to kill and arrest several members of the Tumandok indigenous community last December, its regional spokesperson gloated that the recent quashal of the orders “did not change anything.”

Police Lieutenant Joem Malong argued that although Mambusao, Capiz, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 21 Judge Rommel Leonor suppressed the evidence against four Tumandok individuals, this would not change the fact that nine others admitted to possessing illegal firearms when they entered into plea bargaining agreements so they could walk free.

“They could seek legal remedies, to find loopholes and free themselves, but it did not change anything. The plea bargaining agreement says it all. They illegally possess firearms,” Malong was quoted as saying in a Panay News report.

“We might have lost in the six motions to quash, but we have gained so much in this operation,” she said.

However, it must be noted that Eleutera Caro, Jucie Caro, Rollen Catamin, Marilou Catamin, and Marivic Aguirre were not the same people who availed themselves of the plea bargaining agreements boasted by Malong.

National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia previously noted that the belated vindication of the Tumandok people would not bring back to life those who were murdered during the joint police-military operations.

Judge Leonor on June 15 issued two resolutions quashing the search warrants issued by Manila RTC First Vice Executive Judge Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa.

Judge Dela Rosa had been condemned as one of those running a “warrant factory” that allow authorities to kill dozens of people under the guise of conducting raids.

In suppressing the evidence illegally obtained against Tumandok persons Eleutera Caro, Jucie Caro, Rollen Catamin, Marilou Catamin, and Marivic Aguirre, Judge Leonor held that the search warrants were null and void for failing to “specifically and particularly described the places to be searched.”

All the warrants referred to unnumbered houses in Barangay Roosevelt, Tapaz municipality. It would have been understandable if the warrants only described where the houses were located, how they looked like, or what materials they were made of.

Additionally, the team leader of the deadly operation was never part of the surveillance team and thus would have no personal knowledge of the houses that were targeted. #

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