SC clarifies rule on nationwide search warrants

"A search warrant is an order in writing issued in the name of the People of the Philippines, signed by a judge and directed to a peace officer, commanding him to search for personal property described therein and bring it before the court." (Rule 126 of the Rules of Court)

SOURCE: Neil Arwin Mercado (2019). SC: Executive judges of QC, Manila can issue search warrants effective nationwide. 02:11 PM November 03, 2019.

Executive judges of Manila and Quezon City are authorized to issue search warrants that may be implemented nationwide, the Supreme Court said Sunday. Supreme Court spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka made the clarification following the raids on the offices of groups of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Mayo Uno, Anakpawis, Gabriela, and National Federation of Sugar Workers in Negros Occidental.

Hosaka said Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta immediately ordered the Court Administrator to remind judges "to be deliberate [deliberative?], circumspect, and prudent" with the issuance of warrants after Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares asked the Supreme Court to review the action of the judge who issued the warrant. The warrant was issued by Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89.

"The Court Administrator however was quick to note that the Executive Judges of Manila and Quezon City are really authorized to issue SWs which may be implemented nationwide in certain instances and provided that the legal requirements are met," Hosaka said in a statement. In a separate text message, Hosaka explained that the general rule is that search warrants are issued by trial courts within their jurisdiction. However, executive judges of Quezon City and Manila can issue search warrants effective nationwide.

SOURCE: Neil Arwin Mercado (2019). SC: Executive judges of QC, Manila can issue search warrants effective nationwide. 02:11 PM November 03, 2019."A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines." (Section 4 of Rule 126)

The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall have authority to act on applications filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court. (A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC, cited in G.R. NO. 158467)