Human rights and progressive groups have asked the Supreme Court to take a closer look at the issuance of search warrants by lower courts which led to the arrests of several activists.


Karapatan, Kapatid, and Bayan Metro Manila were one in calling the attention of the SC, specifically over the actions of Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.

Police arrested six labor organizers and a journalist, collectively known as “Human Rights Day 7,” in Metro Manila last week based on the warrants issued by Villavert.

The HRD 7, composed of Dennise Velasco, Rodrigo Esparago, Romina Astudillo, Mark Ryan Cruz, Joel Demate, Jaymie Gregorio, and Lady Ann Salem have been charged for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

“If there is one that can investigate the actions of Judge Villavert, it would be the Supreme Court,” Bayan Metro Manila chair Mong Palatino, noting that she is the same judge who issued warrants against activists either in Metro Manila or Negros.

“Kapatid reiterates the call for the Supreme Court to investigate Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court who issued the search warrants leading to the arrest of the HRD 7,” the group’s spokesperson Fides Lim said.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay cited some judges in Cebu had also issued warrants which resulted to activist arrests in Negros.

“You can invent all the stories. But how to verify, how does the judge verify the veracity of the statements of the police who are put into question?” she asked.

Palabay also questioned the regularity of how search warrants are being executed. The police, she added, could be using it to plant evidence before witnesses arrive at the scene.

“There are more than 600 political prisoners in the country. About 80 percent of these are cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives because it is the most convenient and easiest case to file against them,” she said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (