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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Porac raid

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“Any and all items seized due to what appears to be an illegal search are inadmissible as evidence and cannot be used in any proceeding for whatever purpose”

What is really going on here?

We’re talking about the still ongoing raid on the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) named Lucky South 99 Outsourcing Corporation in Porac, Pampanga.

On June 4, 2024, combined forces of the Philippine National Police, its Special Action Force, and the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission raided the compound of Lucky South 99 on the strength of a search warrant.

Based on news reports, the search warrant was issued by a Judge Maria Belinda Rama of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14.

But this search warrant was later on withdrawn by the same court for being tainted with irregularity, including the lack of specific items to be searched.

The search warrant had been served, however, with no one allowed outside the premises or back inside as of June 4, 2024.

The premises were already under the control of the combined PNP-SAF-PAOCC as of that date. Foreign nationals, allegedly conducting illegal activities, were already placed under arrest.

If the search warrant has been withdrawn by the court, what happens to the items seized during the raid?

As pointed out by keen observers, any and all items seized due to what appears to be an illegal search are inadmissible as evidence and cannot be used in any proceeding for whatever purpose.

Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall be issued except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

After the first search warrant was voided, the PAOCC proceeded to apply for another search warrant, this time in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The new search warrant was implemented on June 7, 2024.

But the POGO complex was under PAOCC occupation for three days already.

What happened in between those dates?

The question has been raised: Will a second search warrant, assuming it is valid, supersede a voided first search warrant?

This is a legal matter that should be clarified by lawyers, including those from the PAOCC, as the agency said the Porac POGO had been suspected of engaging in illegal activities.

According to news reports, SC spokesperson Camille Ting said the Office of the Court Administrator is currently investigating and verifying the search warrant.

The High Court earlier said it will investigate allegations that certain individuals behind POGO hubs may have exerted undue influence on the judiciary.

Overzealous traffic enforcers

We’ve found a number of Facebook comments from ordinary citizens complaining about what appears to be overzealousness on the part of traffic enforcers, particularly in the city of Manila, where personnel from the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau seem to be pouncing on alleged traffic violations, like swerving or changing lanes.

There’s one from a reader: “Kindly warn motorists to be extra careful when traversing Laong-Laan Street in Manila. There are MTPB marshals in the area who apprehend motorists due to lane violation.

The road has two lanes: the left lane is for turning left only. Please inform motorists not to change lanes once they are already in the left lane and if near and inside the solid line. They can go left and use the inner road to go back to Laong-Laan.”

The reactions to this have been spontaneous: “Soooobrang dami ng notorious na buwaya dyan sa Maynila.”

And more: “Enforcers wait for motorists to make a mistake rather than assist them.”

“What’s the correct term/word? Traffic enforcers or TRAPfic enforcers? Ang sipag ng enforcers dyan. Even Saturday and Sunday present sila. 8AM till 8PM. Pang-coffee to pang-tagay.

“Tagal nang problema yan sa Laong-Laan.

“As long as there are proper and readable road markings and signs, nothing to argue about.

“But if street markings and signs are unreadable or even non-existent, that’s another thing, and there should be no violation there.” (Email: ernhil@yahoo.com)

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