SC probes 2 judges over slain mayor’s search warrants


Supreme Court (SC) has ordered an investigation of two Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges who issued the search warrants used by policemen to justify their operation against Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa inside the Baybay sub-provincial jail in Leyte.

The order came after the SC en banc ordered a re-docketing of the case for the filing of formal administrative charges.

To be investigated are RTC Branch 14 Judge Carlos Arguelles in Baybay, Leyte and RTC Branch 30 Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. in Basey, Samar.

Judge Janet Cabalona of Calbiga, Samar RTC Branch 33 is also being investigated for similarly issuing two search warrants against Espinosa and another detainee who also died in the government jail.

“Judges are expected to resolve matters before their salas impartially and independently. Allegations that tend to show that they decided a matter for considerations other than their own conscience and knowledge of the law not only smear their dignity but threaten the very foundations of the judiciary as well.

“The situation in this case [Espinosa’s] is made more grievous by the fact that several persons have been killed in circumstances brought about by a court process,” the SC stated.

During en banc deliberations, the SC ordered Court of Appeals, Cebu City Executive Justice Gabriel Ingles to conduct the “investigation and report [recommendations]within 90 days.”
Ingles was also ordered to probe non-action by Arguelles on Espinosa’s urgent motion for transfer of detention that cited danger to his life.

The SC earlier mandated the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), led by lawyer Jose Midas Marquez, to conduct an investigation.

Based on a report submitted on December 5, 2016, the OCA was convinced that Sabarre and Cabalona are administratively liable for issuing search warrants to be implemented in jail facilitites of the government.

“The OCA emphasizes that a jail facility is not a private dwelling that comes under the protection of the right to privacy. It [OCA] cited Alejano vs. Cabuay, where the [SC] held that ‘a citizen’s privacy rights is a guarantee that is available only to the public at large but not to persons who are detained or imprisoned,’’’ the SC said in a media advisory.


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  1. It’s about time that the Supreme Court be tough on judges who lower their guard and the standards of the law just to accommodate questionable applications for search warrants by erring law enforcers.