Sunday, August 19, 2018

CHR investigates case of three laywers arrested by Makati police



Three lawyers, Lenie Rocel Rocha, Jan Vincent Soliven and Romulo Bernard Alacon, were arrested by Makati police officers in a bar, and were charged with obstruction of justice, resistance and disobedience, as well as constructive possession of illegal drugs for allegedly entering the area without coordinating with the police.
The 3 lawyers arrested by Makati police officers / Photo from GMA Network

This incident has since gone viral, including a video of the exchange between both parties.

Because of this the, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has started their own investigation saying that they want to ensure the protection of the human rights of these lawyers as well.

We are very concerned by this because it is essential to ensuring protection of human rights that lawyers are insulated from assault and be given the widest latitude to advocate for the best interests of their clients,” said CHR chair Chito Gascon.
Chito Gascon / Photo from Phil Star

They should be able observe whether law enforcement officials are at all times keeping within the bounds of proper legal processes. That lawyers are arrested for doing their duty undermines respect for the rule of law,” he added.

The lawyers were release after more than 24 hours of detention. It was recommended by the inquest prosecutor to further investigate the case.

Former vice president Jejomar Binay also involved himself in the case and visited the lawyers, and then proceeded to the prosecutor’s office saying he wanted to respect the rights of the lawyers as well.

CHR commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit was also furious of the incident saying that it was concerning that the police accused the lawyers for obstruction of justice when the lawyers were just exercising their client’s rights to counsel.

The lawyers were present at the place of incident to exercise their client’s constitutional right to counsel and due process. It is alarming that the exercise of such rights was met with allegations of obstruction of justice, which the police has yet to qualify,” she said.
Photo courtesy of the Southern Police District

By arresting the lawyers, the police effectively send a chilling effect to lawyers and their clients who were merely exercising their rights,” she added.

The fact that the inquest is delayed is equally disturbing, especially if caused by some whimsical reason, such as the arresting officer being nowhere to be found,” added Dumpit.

Many people have condemned this act of the police as well. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) have condemned this as well, saying that the arrest was highly questionable.

IBP president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo said that they were ready to file a petition for habeas corpus for the release of the lawyers.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers also said that the incident was “appalling and absurd”.

While the lawyers were preventing possible abuse of police authority and mishandling of evidence, as were the case in many past drug-related investigations and operations, the Makati City police proved them right by arresting them without legal cause,” it said.

Attacks on lawyers and the judiciary clearly show that the administration knows no bounds in repressing democratic rights,” it added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Leila de Lima and Francis Pangilinan, condemned the arrest of the lawyers as well.

Drilon said the arrest and filing of charges poses “threats on the rule of law, basic pillar of our democracy.” He said he cannot recall any law or jurisprudence which authorizes the arrest of lawyers for “pressuring” policemen during the conduct of a search.

De Lima said “tokhang is no longer for the poor and defenseless alone… Everyone is now equal, not before the law, but in the breakdown of the rule of law and (President) Duterte’s reign of impunity.”

Pangilinan said police officers ignored the law and human rights when they arrested the lawyers.


Source: Philstar