Judges prudent in issuing warrants
CEBU, Philippines — The executive judge of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City has assured that the judiciary has been prudent in issuing search warrants.
RTC Executive Judge Macaundas Hadjirasol made the assurance after Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña asked the judges to consider in the evaluation the possibility that the search warrant may be used to harass his political supporters.
“We are required not only to evaluate but to examine exhaustively before the issuance of a search warrant,” Hadjirasol said.
Hadjirasol explained that judges are required under the law to personally conduct searching questions to the applicant of the warrant. He said the warrant applicant must be able to convince the judge that there is probable cause against the subject of the warrant before it is issued.
Hadjirasol said it would normally take him three hours to conduct probing questions to the police applying for search warrant. He said it is only when he is convinced that there is probable cause that he grants the application.
“If there is (probable cause), issue a search warrant. If there is not, the application will be denied,” he explained.
Hadjirasol added that an aggrieved party can also ask for the transcript of stenographic notes if they think the search warrant was irregular. He said there are also legal remedies available to the aggrieved party, one of which is to quash the search warrant.
He, however, admitted that judges can no longer attest to the regularity of the service of the warrant because it is already the job of the law enforcers.
Hadjirasol said there were reports of abuses in the implementation but could not be validated. Nevertheless, Hadjirasol said there are remedies available and the aggrieved parties can always seek redress before the court.
Osmeña issued an advisory memorandum appealing to the judges to consider in their evaluation in the issuance of the search warrants, the alleged irregularities in the implementation.
“Reports have reached me of several incidents involving irregularities in the conduct and enforcement of search warrants, which I have validated with several witnesses as well as video footage of service of warrant without regard to procedures,” the memorandum read. — FPL (FREEMAN)