CHR RELEASES VIDEO CLIPS AND PHOTOS OF INITIAL BONE FINDS, HITS LOCAL JUDGE FOR REJECTING SW APPLICATION
The Commission on Human Rights makes available today for anyone’s perusal, especially media, video clips and still photos of the ongoing search and exhumation of human remains/bones at the Gold Cup Firing Range, Brgy. Maa, Davao City, as part of the probe into the summary killings in the City. The site is believed to be the dumping ground of bodies of victims of said killings.
The ongoing search/exhumation, which is covered by a search warrant (SW) duly issued by Hon. Romulo A. Lopez, Executive Judge of RTC-Manila and Presiding Judge of Branch 34, is being undertaken within the umbrella of the recently created multi-agency task force, led by CHR, which is seriously looking into the cases of summary killings in Davao City. A special team from PNP/CIDG, called the PNP’s Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) which include SOCO operatives from the PNP, Central Office, was constituted to conduct the search.
The 1st two (2) days of digging resulted in the discovery of several human bones and skeletal fragments at the site covered by the SW issued by the RTC-Manila, an ipil-ipil plantation at the back of the firing range. Digging continues, to this day.
A human leg bone was likewise discovered in a nearby site, an opening to what appears to be a cave in a dry creek. The site, however, is not covered by the existing SW, prompting the SITG team to apply for a new SW at the RTC-Davao City.
The application for a new SW was, however, denied by Branch 15, RTC-Davao City, presided by Judge Ridgway M. Tandili, (the 4th judge to whom the application was assigned - “pinagpapasahan”), in an Order issued on 7 July 2009, purportedly for lack of probable cause.
The CHR expressed great dismay on the local court’s rejection of the SW application. “What more probable cause do the judge need? There were bones found in the exact spot, covered by the existing SW issued by RTC-Manila. The fact that the initial search yielded positive results is an indication that the task force and PNP’s SIDG team acted on good, solid info, and that the ongoing search is not at all a fishing expedition.” Chair Leila De Lima said.
Expressing further her disappointment with the local judiciary, De Lima commented: “CHR expects the judiciary to be facilitative within legal bounds, rather than obstructionist. Courts should and ought to be the vanguards in resolving EJKs, and should not be instruments of delay. They should be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Are some judges so afraid of the dark forces behind DDS that they would not use the might of the bench to fight for what is right? Inaction makes them accessories to the culture of impunity.”
Such a setback, however, on the SW application will not affect the vigor and relentless efforts being undertaken in the CHR’s and the task force’s continuing probe into summary executions.