SC warns judges to follow rules on issuing warrants

THE Supreme Court reminded all judges in the first and second level courts to remain unbiased, non-partisan and prudent in acting on the application for search warrants to prevent the courts from being used in the coming elections.

“Acting on the reports that the courts are being used by unscrupulous politicians to obtain search warrants against their rivals during this election period, all judges are hereby reminded and advised to remain impartial and non-partisan, and be very circumspect on acting on applications for search warrants, to preclude the courts from being used for election purposes,” read a portion of OCA Circular No. 64-2019.

The circular was signed by court administrator Jose Midas Marquez and dated April 17, 2019.

Even before it, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña appealed to Cebu City judges to consider some observations in their evaluation of the request for the issuance of search warrants.

In an undated advisory memorandum he signed, Osmeña said that reports on several incidents involving the “irregularities in the enforcement of search warrants” have been brought to his attention.

Law enforcers ignored procedures when they served the search warrants, as validated by video footage and witnesses, Osmeña said.

In response, Cebu City Executive Judge Macaundas Hadjirasul has assured that requests for search warrants are examined exhaustively before they are issued by the court.

He said it takes him three hours to examine the applicant and witnesses before issuing or denying a request.

Hadjirasul said there are remedies that the subject of the search warrants can avail himself of if there are irregularities in its implementation.

But opposition Councilor Joel Garganera said Osmeña’s memorandum against the police and the judiciary is just a diversionary tactic.

He said this is the mayor’s way to divert the public’s attention from the real issues in the City like garbage, stable supply of water and the disposal of the three-hectare South Road Properties (SRP) lot, among others.

“He is a habitual liar. This is just a waste of money, a diversionary tactic for the electorate not to look for the real issue which until now he has yet to answer,” Garganera said.

In a Facebook post, Osmeña said the opposition was given the chance to participate in the deliberation of the budget for the garbage collection but they were all absent.

The City has allocated P590 million in garbage collection fees for 2019 which Garganera said is “anomalous.”

Garganera said the budget has tripled since Osmeña took office while the garbage problem in Cebu has worsened.

“Osmeña back then said what we were doing was anomalous. But now, the budget for garbage collection has increased more than three times. This is anomalous three times,” Garganera earlier said.


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