VP Robredo, human rights commission slam arrest of lawyers during Makati bar raid

Vice President Leni Robredo has criticized today the arrest of three lawyers during the second raid of Time Bar in Makati.

In a report by Rappler, Robredo called the arrest of lawyers Jan Vincent Soliven, Lenie Rocel Rocha, and Romulo Bernard Alarcon as an example of the “erosion of constitutional protections and the rule of law.”

According to The Philippine Star, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will file cases of obstruction of justice, resistance and disobedience to authority, violation of a city ordinance, and “constructive possession” of narcotics against the three.

The three lawyers, all of whom are from the Desierto & Desierto law firm, represented one of the owners of the high-end bar.

Diane Desierto, a partner at their law firm, told the Philippine Star that the lawyers were present at the bar to merely “monitor the search implementation and inventory-taking as part of standard procedures.”

According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, they were freed from the Makati police station on Friday night, more than 24 hours after their arrest.

They would need to return to the Makati Prosecutor’s Office for a preliminary investigation on Aug. 28.

Said Robredo: “If even lawyers, fully educated on their constitutional rights and trained to assert them, can be treated with such official disdain, then we can only imagine how much worse less informed, less empowered Filipinos will fare when subjected to abusive behavior by agents of government.”

The spokesperson for the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) also criticized the PNP’s actions. Inquirer reported that Jacqueline de Guia, the spokesperson for the CHR, said that the three lawyers’ arrest shows “an utter disrespect not only of the law profession but also of constitutionally enshrined rights.”

However, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that the police force is ready to support the cops who detained the three lawyers. He said that legal assistance will be given to those responsible for their detention.

“They’re [the police] doing their duties,” he told the Philippine Star.

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