The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hails the dismissal by Mandaluyong RTC Presiding Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio of the clearly trumped-up charges of illegal possession and explosives against our colleague, Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem, and trade unionist Rodrigo Esparagao, who were among the seven persons arrested in simultaneous police raids in Metro Manila.
As Judge Quisumbing-Ignacio noted that, not only were the search warrants “issued in violation of the Constitution and the Rules of Court,” thus rendering inadmissible whatever evidence was seized for being the “fruits of the poisonous tree,” there were also “numerous inconsistencies and contradictions” in the testimonies of the police officers who testified against Salem and Esparago.
She also voided the warrant issued by Quezon City RTC Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, saying it “suffered from vagueness.”
Villavert is the same judge who issued search warrants that led to the arrests of 60 persons in Bacolod City and Manila in late 2019. Among those arrested then were community journalist Anne Krueger of Paghimutad Negros, and Manila activist Reina Mae Nasino, who lost her three-month-old daughter who had been separated from her soon after birth.
Even as we eagerly await Icy’s return to freedom, we denounce the gross injustice she was subjected to by the agents of a government bent on suppressing the independent media and freedom of expression.
As much as the many extrajudicial killings visited on activists and dissenters, the illegal arrest and false charges against Icy are the results of the vicious red-tagging of this administration and its minions, particularly the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
They should no longer get away with their continued trampling of people’s rights and disregard for the law. We fully support any and all efforts to ensure those responsible for this injustice to Icy are held accountable.
We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists to stand with Icy and all other colleagues threatened by the state and its agents for being true to their duty to serve the people’s right to know.