By Nitz Arancon
THE recent decision of Judge Joeffre Acebido to dismiss the cases on illegal possession of illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms against Johaira “Marimar” Macaubat and others should serve as a lesson on following proper protocols in serving of search warrants, a Department of Justice-10 prosecutor said.
Regional Prosecutor Merlyn Uy said that although they abide and respect the decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 41, this should be a wake-up call to the operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to serve warrants properly.
“This is a reminder to our law enforcers, that in cases like this, even if they are armed with a valid search warrant, they have to stake and comply with the requirements in implementing the warrant,” Uy said.
Uy’s response comes at the heels of Judge Acebido’s decision on the case on Sept. 11 that effectively dismissed all charges against Macaubat, Suharto Macabuat, Sandato Santican alias Sanny, and Noraisa Mapandi.
Also including in the dismissal of charges are Mark Gerald Sindac, Moamar Taher, Mariano Dagandara, Manot Dutoan, Hezam Tambidan, and Kate Abinal.
In his 25-page decision, Judge Acebido questioned the manner of how the PDEA-10 operatives search the house of the suspect in Ballon Compound, Barangay Kauswagan, this city, at 9:50 am on July 23, 2016.
“The validity of the search is not gauged by its yield but also by the manner in which it is conducted,” Judge Acebido wrote in his decision.
The judge pointed out that although the search warrant was valid, its implementation is another thing to consider.
“Valid not just because it is by virtue of a search warrant but also because it is regularly and properly implemented. There are separate rules governing the issuance of a search warrant and for the implementation of the same,” Judge Acebido explained.
It is because of the “irregular implementation” of the search warrant, Judge Acebido said, that made the items seized inadmissible “as they are the fruit of the proverbial poisonous tree.”
Uy said the operatives of PDEA-10 should have been accompanied by barangay officials when they raided the house.
“In this particular case, ang sulti sa judge, during sa initial search wala pa maka-abot ang barangay kagawad, at the same time ang mga akusado were not allowed to observe the search that was conducted. So, whatever ang nakuha during that search mao na kana ang gitawag nga fruit of the poisonous tree,” Uy said.
She added that the decision is a major blow to the region’s campaign against illegal drugs.
However, Uy said her office is currently reviewing the 25-page decision of Judge Acebido.
She said they will submit additional action and recommendation to their head office in Manila should they see something that will salvage their case against Macabuat and others.