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Should search warrants only be executed in the daytime? Legal experts give their take
Published July 31, 2017 7:33pm
By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News
Amid questions on the legality of the pre-dawn raid on Sunday that resulted in the death of Ozamis City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife and 13 other people, questions have arisen over whether search warrants could be executed only during daytime.
Senator Francis Escudero, for one, said the under the Rules of Court and the police manual of the Philippine National Police (PNP), search warrants should be served during daytime.
When asked if a search warrant may be enforced even during the wee hours, former Ateneo School of Government dean Antonio La Viña told GMA News Online in a text message that "if possible, it should be executed during the daytime."
"But in certain cases, such as when the things seized are mobile or are in the person of the accused, it can," he added.
Former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Rosario Setias-Reyes echoed La Viña's views, citing Section 9, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court.
Section 9, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court states "[t]he warrant must direct that it be served in the day time, unless the affidavit asserts that the property is on the person or in the place ordered to be searched, in which case a direction may be inserted that it be served at any time of the day or night."
A Supreme Court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the general rule is that a search "must be served during the daytime."
"However, the rule allows an exception, namely, a search at any reasonable hour of the day or night, when the application asserts that the property is on the person or place ordered to be searched," the court official said.
Citing the SC decision in People v. Court of Appeals and Ortiz on December 8, 2000, the official said the judge issued the warrant based on the positive assertion of the applicant and his witnesses that the firearms and ammunition were kept at the private respondents' residence.
"Evidently, the court issuing the warrant was satisfied that the affidavits of the applicants clearly satisfied the requirements of Section 8, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. The rule on issuance of a search warrant allows for the exercise of judicial discretion in fixing the time within which the warrant may be served, subject to the statutory requirement fixing the maximum time for the execution of a warrant," the ruling stated.
"The inescapable conclusion is that the judge who issued the questioned warrant did not abuse his discretion in allowing a search at any reasonable hour of the day or night. Absent such abuse of discretion, a search conducted at night where so allowed, is not improper."
Six search warrants had been obtained by the police from Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 which indicated particular firearms as subject of the search.
The warrants also authorized the policemen to implement these "at any time of any day or night" within 10 days. —JST, GMA News
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