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Saturday, June 22, 2024

From botched warrants to illegal detentions

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“This fiasco underscores the critical importance of procedural propriety and the dire consequences of abusing power”

IN THE bewildering saga unfolding in Porac, Pampanga, the real villain may not be the POGO company, Lucky South 99 Outsourcing Corporation, but rather the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission itself.

This situation, rife with legal blunders and Constitutional violations, demands a harsh critique of the PAOCC’s actions.

On June 4, 2024, the Philippine National Police, Special Action Force, and the PAOCC raided Lucky South 99’s compound under a search warrant issued by Judge Maria Belinda Rama of Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14.

This search warrant was later withdrawn due to glaring irregularities, like failure to specify crucial details. Despite this, the PAOCC had executed the raid, detaining foreign nationals allegedly involved in illegal activities.

The Constitutional implications here are severe.

Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.

This principle is not merely academic; it mandates that evidence obtained from an illegal search is inadmissible in court.

The invalidation of the initial search warrant unequivocally renders the June 4 raid illegal, and thus, any evidence seized during this operation should be excluded from legal proceedings against Lucky South 99.

Recognizing their procedural catastrophe, the PAOCC attempted damage control by obtaining a second search warrant from a court in San Fernando, Pampanga, executed on June 7, 2024.

However, the PAOCC had held the premises for three days.

This raises serious questions about the integrity of any evidence collected during this period.

A subsequent search warrant cannot retroactively legitimize an initial illegal search.

This tactic only exacerbates the PAOCC’s procedural incompetence and disregard for legal norms.

The PAOCC’s actions constitute a gross abuse of power and a flagrant violation of Constitutional rights.

Their initial raid was based on a defective warrant, and their subsequent attempts to validate their actions with an additional warrant amount to a transparent cover-up of their misconduct.

This sequence of events highlights not just procedural incompetence but also a disturbing willingness to sidestep legal norms.

The implications of this debacle are profound.

By tainting the evidence with their illegal search, the PAOCC has jeopardized any potential legal proceedings against Lucky South 99.

This legal trainwreck underscores a systemic issue within Philippine law enforcement – a cavalier attitude toward Constitutional protections and due process.

Defense of Lucky South 99

1. Exclusionary Rule: Under Article III, Section 3(2) of the Constitution, evidence obtained from an illegal search is inadmissible in any proceeding.

The invalidation of the initial search warrant mandates the exclusion of any evidence seized during the June 4 raid.

2. Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine: This legal principle asserts that any subsequent evidence derived from the initial illegal search is also tainted and inadmissible in court.

This would include any evidence found as a result of the June 7 search warrant, given the three-day unlawful control of the premises by the PAOCC.

3. Violation of Due Process: Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution guarantees that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The illegal detention of foreign nationals and the control of the premises without a valid warrant constitute clear due process violations.

4. Illegal Detention: The detention of individuals during the period when the premises were unlawfully held by the PAOCC can be challenged through a petition for habeas corpus under Rule 102 of the Rules of Court.

5. Civil Action for Damages: Lucky South 99 can seek damages under Articles 19, 20, and 32 of the Civil Code for wrongful acts, abuse of rights, and violations of constitutional rights.

This includes the reputational harm and business disruption caused by the PAOCC’s actions.

The PAOCC’s handling of the raid on Lucky South 99 is a stark reminder of the need for strict adherence to legal standards and Constitutional safeguards.

This fiasco underscores the critical importance of procedural propriety and the dire consequences of abusing power.

The PAOCC’s actions represent a severe breach of public trust and a blatant disregard for the rule of law.

It is imperative this debacle serves as a catalyst for urgent reforms within the PAOCC and other law enforcement agencies to prevent such abuses of power from recurring.

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