Two activists arrested in October 2019 have been cleared by a Manila regional trial court on Wednesday.
Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar acquitted women’s rights activist Cora Agovida and urban poor organizer Michael Bartolome.
The two have been cleared “due to the prosecution’s failure to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they owned or possessed the firearms and explosives allegedly recovered from them,” an ABS-CBN online report said.
Records show that the couple was arrested in their Paco, Manila apartment in Paco based on search warrants issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.
Reports said this is “the same judge who issued warrants that led to more than 60 activist arrests in Manila and Negros around the same period.”
The Manila regional trial court also cited the “conflicting versions” of members of the group who arrested the couple.
“Notably, PSSgt. Marcelo testified that they implemented the search warrants at 5:00 in the morning precisely because the subjects were usually asleep at that time. Moreover, they all testified that they were already inside the place to be searched when the a cused were informed of their authority, the purpose of the search and the object to be seized,” Magdoza-Malagar said in the ruling.
“These raised doubt on the reasonableness of the search that followed, for ‘a lawful entry is the indispensable predicate of a reasonable search,” the judge said.