Press Release
27 April 2021

References:
Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580

Karapatan urges court to reconsider denial of detained unionist’s motion to quash search warrant against him

A thorough review into the application of search warrants used for the International Human Rights Day police raids throughout Metro Manila last year is “is a matter of justice,” human rights watchdog Karapatan asserted on Tuesday, as the group urged the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 50 to reconsider its denial of the motion filed by detained trade unionist Joel Demate, one of the seven activists arrested during the raids, to quash the search warrant used to raid his residence and to suppress the evidence supposedly seized during the raids.

“The nullification of the search warrants used to raid the residence and arrest Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago and the dismissal of the charges against them already exposed the utter lack of credibility of the testimonies of these so-called informants, which the police used to apply for search warrants — the same informants who also testified against Joel Demate. The Manila RTC must reconsider its decision to deny his motion, and we strongly urge it to further diligently examine the application of these warrants,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Demate, an officer of the Solidarity of Labor for Rights and Welfare, was arrested in his residence in Sta. Ana, Manila December 10 last year based on a search warrant issued by Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of the Quezon City RTC Branch 89. Along with Demate, Salem, and Esparago, trade unionists Dennise Velasco, Romina Astudillo, Mark Ryan Cruz, and Jaymie Gregorio were also arrested in the simultaneous raids throughout Metro Manila. Demate remains detained in the headquarters of the Manila Police District and is currently facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Last Thursday, April 22, Judge Bibiano Colasito of the Manila RTC Branch 50 denied Demate’s motion to quash the search warrants used to raid his residence and to suppress the evidence seized during the raid. Demate asserted in his motion that the warrant was issued without probable cause along with the inconsistencies of the testimonies of the applicant and witnesses, that the warrant is void and irregularly enforced as the raiding team planted false evidence and embarked in a fishing expedition during the raid, and that, therefore, all evidence seized during the raid should be declared inadmissible in court.

Palabay averred that the decision of Mandaluyong RTC Branch 209 Judge Monique-Quisumbing-Ignacio to dismiss the charges against Salem and Esparago last February 5 “strongly emphasized the ‘numerous inconsistencies and contradictions’ of the testimonies of these witnesses, such that they ‘cannot be given full faith and credence.’ The Manila RTC must seriously reconsider this ruling, as these are the same witnesses and informants who testified against Demate, and their inconsistency and contradictions only strongly suggest that their testimonies are falsified and have no credibility.

“We call on courts to stand for truth and justice and for them to give just rulings without delay. Every single day that people are behind bars on falsified charges is a brazen form of injustice. We call on the Manila RTC to reconsider its decision and to exercise prudence so that justice is genuinely dispensed and served. Lastly, we reassert the call for free Joel Demate and all political prisoners, to drop the trumped-up charges against them, and to stop the attacks on unionists and human rights defenders in the Philippines,” the Karapatan official ended. ###

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org/

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.