The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition welcomes the Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Monique A. Quisumbing-Ignacio of Branch 209 of Mandaluyong City junking the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against journalist Lady Ann Salem and labor union organizer Rodrigo Esparago.
In an Order dated February 5, 2021, the Mandaluyong RTC torpedoed the search warrant used as authority to legally enter their condominium unit as null and void.
Since the warrant had no legal effect, the firearms and explosives allegedly found and seized by the police were inadmissible in evidence. They cannot be used as evidence against Salem and Esparago -- as they are fruits of a poisonous tree.
After the scrutiny and meticulous evaluation of the record, we laud the Mandaluyong magistrate's finding that the preposterous circumstances and basis upon which the search warrant was issued had no anchor to stand on.
The biggest labor coalition hails the issuance of the order as a triumph of the rule of law. The circumstances of the arrest were out of human experience and appeared to be scripted.
The incident that happened on human rights day also manifested a clear attitude of impunity and defiance of human rights norms on the part of those who effected the arrest.
Meanwhile, the NAGKAISA appreciates Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana's (new military chief) commitment for the officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to "do their job, following the rule of law, give due respect to human rights and strictly adhere to the provisions of the international humanitarian law".
NAGKAISA hopes that the new military chief will exert efforts to be more friendly with the trade unions by respecting workers' rights to organize unions, engage in collective bargaining negotiations and join in peaceful concerted actions.
In this light, we call on the AFP to seriously implement Guidelines on the conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ AFP and PNP relative to the exercise of Workers’ Right and Activity which was in May 2012.
Said guidelines provide that in the conduct of AFP/PNP operations: (1) they shall not red-tag or stigmatize workers' organizations/associations, union leaders, members or organizers as fronts or members of certain conflict armed group; (2) they shall not interfere in certification elections; (3) they shall not issue invitation to workers organizers or leaders on their alleged link to certain armed group, among others.
February 6, 2021
Ref: Atty. Sonny Matula