SOMETHING strange appears to be happening at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, at least in connection with a search warrant that police officials have been seeking against the PCIJ.
Although the QC police have twice asked the courts for a warrant to search the PCIJ office, court officials are denying such applications were made. Neither is there a paper trail to show that the first application made last Friday had been denied.
PCIJ lawyer Sandra Marie Coronel told a Senate inquiry today that Branch 76 of the QC-RTC has denied there were such proceedings. Atty. Coronel was at the QC-RTC following up another case yesterday when she saw elements of the QC police with sound engineer and police asset Jonathan Tiongco applying for the search warrant against PCIJ. She returned to the court today to get copies of the warrant, only to be told there was no such thing.
“Despite the fact that I personally saw the policemen and Mr. Tiongco undergo proceedings on their application for a search warrant, I confirmed today that the statement of the court is that there was never any application. They now claim that there was no application whatsoever for any search warrant against Sheila Coronel and the PCIJ,” Atty. Coronel said at a Senate hearing this afternoon.
What is as bizarre, said Atty. Coronel, was that there was also no record of a warrant having been applied for and denied last Friday, when an application was first made by the QC police. “I likewise checked insofar as the application for a search warrant that was confirmed by a police informant to have been made and denied last Friday and there is likewise no record of any such application,” Coronel said.
“Is there something strange out there happening?” asked Senator Rodolfo Biazon who raised questions about the warrant.
Biazon kept repeating, “This is strange.” That it would happen in the courts, where “redress of wrongs can be provided resolution,” means that the country is in deep trouble, added Biazon who said that the police could be forum-shopping or searching for a court that would grant them their request.
Yet the court seemed to be saying something else to other people. GMA-7 quoted the clerk of court of Branch 76 saying an application for a search warrant had not been granted because it was past office hours.
The mystery over the supposed search warrant has left PCIJ in the dark, its staff harassed, and stressed and the Center’s time taken away from investigative reporting, said PCIJ executive director Sheila Coronel. “PCIJ does not know when and if a search warrant will be issued. What we do know is that there is no basis for such a warrant.”
Meantime, Biazon also commented on Jonathan Tiongco, who had previously filed a libel suit against an article in the PCIJ blog and one of those bent on having the PCIJ office searched. “Tiongco seems to be everywhere,” Biazon noted. “Recently this guy sent me letter offering me his services to participate in the technical determination of the authenticity of the tapes and examination of voices in the tapes.”
Sheila Coronel informed the court that Tiongco was a police agent, and showed the Senate committee a copy of Tiongco’s identification card indicating he was a member of the Monitoring Group of the Intelligence Division of the PNP’s Special Operations Group Jericho. The copy of Tiongco’s I.D. card was submitted by his wife Rona, who in November asked the court to stop PCIJ from publishing an article in the PCIJ blog that she claimed made unsubstantiated statements against her husband and intruded into her private life.