SC to amend rules on search, arrest warrants

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) – Responding to calls for changes in the rules on search warrants, the Supreme Court has disclosed steps to make revisions not only on the issuance of search warrants but also that of arrest orders.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said on Friday SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen has already submitted a working draft on the "revisions intended to specifically address the issue on issuance of arrest warrant and search warrant."

"We're working on it. In relation to that, we will be amending the rules on criminal procedures with respect to those provisions," he said during his first Meet the Press event.

In March, more than 100 lawyers wrote to the SC proposing changes to rules on the issuance and service of search warrants. This was in response to the bloody raids in Calabarzon that left nine people dead when police tried to implement search orders issued by lower courts.

The lawyers said they feared that the rules of court were being "weaponized" to go after activists.

Gesmundo pointed out that judges know the responsibility that they have to comply with what the Constitution and the rules of court should provide.

The chief magistrate said that one of the things that they are working on is the adoption of the rule of body-worn cameras.

"So we hope that with the issuance of these rules on body-worn cameras, these issues will be addressed specifically. It's in the works. By July perhaps, we will have the final version and we'll approve it for implementation immediately."

Revising the writs

Gesmundo said he also directed the office of court attorneys to research for the revision of writs of kalikasan and amparo.

"We are doing our continuous effort to revise these rules. It's just that we have to gather more materials to guide us in the revisions but it is one of the priorities of the court for revision."

A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy available to a person whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened.

The writ of amparo, on the other hand, is available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened.

Exercising rule-making power

Asked as to what extent the SC will exercise its rule-making function to protect the rights of the public, Gesmundo said that it will promulgate rules when it finds it necessary "only that it must be within the parameters of the Constitution."

"Things change over time. The Court must be able to adapt to these changing times so when the circumstances should warrant for the Court to adopt this, I'm sure my colleagues will not hesitate to adopt those rules," he said.