Leni Robredo, Criticized the Filing of the case with three Lawyers

Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday raised alarm on the arrest of three lawyers who were monitoring the cops’ search operation in a bar in Makati.

Robredo, in a statement, said the arrest of lawyers Lenie Rocha, Jan Vincent Soliven and Romulo Bernard Alarcon is a case that concerns not just the legal community but every Filipino.

“The [Philippine National Police’s] contention that the accountability of law enforcers to rules and proper procedure cannot be raised in the course of police operations, but only in legal proceedings arising after the fact, is a dangerous mindset that dramatically increases the likelihood of abuse and the assurance of impunity,” the vice president said.

Makati cops detained the three lawyers on Thursday afternoon for obstruction of justice. They claimed that the lawyers “entered the premises of the bar, took several pictures and videos of the scene and intimidated the members of the searching team.”

The police brought the lawyers to the Makati City Hall late Friday afternoon—after more than 24 hours of detention—and filed criminal raps against them. The lawyers are accused of “constructive possession” of illegal drugs.

The vice president said: "That some members of our police force now feel that they can brush aside claims to legal rights and due process, and bully and intimidate those asserting them – even if they are lawyers performing their duties, and thus, clothed with authority as officers of the court – through verbal harangues, physical restraint, and the threat of subsequent criminal liability, is indicative of an alarming erosion of Constitutional protections and the rule of law.”

She also raised that if lawyers—like herself—“can be treated with such official disdain,” then what could happen when “less informed, less empowered Filipinos” are “subjected to abusive behavior by agents of government.”

Robredo urged her fellow lawyers to stand with Rocha, Soliven and Alarcon.

“I likewise call on all citizens to add their voices and express their concern, their alarm, their outage, so that all will know that free Filipinos will not even let the slightest relapse into tyranny pass unchallenged,” the vice president added.

Lawmakers and lawyers’ groups have criticized the arrest of the three lawyers. The Commission on Human Rights, for its part, sent a quick response team to look into the incident.

But on Monday, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde presented the cops involved in the controversial bar raid with an award.

Albayalde also stressed that cops operate on a presumption of regularity, adding that the Makati police must have a “compelling reason” to arresting the lawyers.

He added that the PNP would provide legal assistance to the cops should counter-charges be filed against them.

Source: PhilStar
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