Filtered By: Topstories

House probe urged on arrest of three lawyers in Makati bar raid

A House resolution has been filed on Monday seeking an investigation on the arrest of three lawyers while representing their client during a raid in Makati City.

In House Resolution 2086, 1-Ang Edukasyon party-list Representative Salvador Belaro Jr. and Oriental Mindoro Representative Salvador "Doy" Leachon directed the Committees on Justice and Good Government and Public Accountability to investigate the "highly-irregular" incident.

Lawyers Lenie Rocel Rocha, Jan Vincent Soliven, and Romulo Bernard Alarkon were arrested Thursday afternoon last week at the Time in Manila bar in Barangay Poblacion, Makati City.

A total of 31 employees of the bar were arrested during a police raid there over the weekend for allegedly supplying and distributing illegal drugs. One hundred-twenty five people were also rounded up.

The Southern Police District said the three lawyers, who claimed to be counsels of one of the bar's owners, entered the premises and "took several picture and videos of the scene" and "intimidated the members of the searching team without proper and prior coordination."

With these, police charged the three lawyers for "obstruction of justice" and another charge for "constructive possession" of dangerous drugs.

Constructive possession exists when the drug is "under the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it is found," according to the Supreme Court.

The lawmakers, however, argued that the lawyers are officers of the court who are only at the scene to perform their duties as counsel.

"The said irregular incident has serious implication on the observance of basic constitutional rights especially the right to counsel, rights under custodial investigation and right to due process," their resolution read.

Aside from this, the lawmakers likewise pointed out that the claim of irregularity in the act of the lawmakers should not be tolerated as it gives a "chilling effect" on the rule of law.

"If that were the case, there might be a need to propose new legislation, or amend existing legislation, or come up with new administrative rules to prevent the recurrence of the same," they said.

File charges vs. police

In a separate statement, Belaro advised the three lawyers to file charges against the Makati police officers involved in the incident.

"The three aggrieved lawyers must cite, among others, the violations of specific provisions of the PNP’s own operations manual and standard operating procedures on crime scene investigations and criminal procedure," he said.

Senator Richard Gordon earlier said there was no obstruction of justice in the act of the lawyers, as they were only performing their duties. — Erwin Colcol/RSJ, GMA News