3 lawyers arrested for allegedly ‘threatening’ cops
Robertzon Ramirez, Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Three lawyers were detained at the Makati City police station Thursday afternoon for allegedly threatening police officers conducting a search of a bar reportedly used as a drug den, an official said yesterday.

Lenie Rocel Rocha, Jan Vincent Soliven and Romulo Bernard Alarcon were arrested for failing to observe police protocol while lawmen were searching the Time Bar for illegal drugs, according to Southern Police District director Chief Superintendent Tomas Apolinario.

He said the leader of the team conducting the search reported that two of the lawyers “were threatening the PO1s. When asked about the names of their client, and whom they represent, they did not present any.”

Apolinario said the lawyers allegedly went into the area cordoned off by police tape “without prior coordination and without authority. They did not introduce themselves and did not have a written authority that identified their client.”

 He said the lawyers allegedly intimidated the police officers by taking photos and videos of the scene without asking permission. 

One of the lawyers’ colleagues presented a certification Thursday night, stating he was representing Burton Joseph Server, one of the bar’s owners, Apolinario said.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde urged lawyers not to intimidate police officers performing their duties.

Asked about reports that the lawyers were just taking photographs and jotting notes, Albayalde said it is better for them to just answer the charges.

“Let them explain since we know cases of obstruction of justice were already filed and let the prosecutor appreciate their case,” he said.

Apolinario said they filed charges of obstruction of justice, resistance and disobedience as well as violation of Section 11 of the anti-drug law Republic Act 9165 (constructive possession) and City Ordinance No. 96-298, which makes it unlawful for an unauthorized person to cross a police line.

Shocked

Lawyer Diane Desierto, who owns the law firm where the three lawyers work, said in a lengthy Facebook post that some police officers allegedly yelled at and harassed the lawyers. 

 Desierto said they were even detained along with some 200 other inmates at the Makati police station.

 “Last night, when I spoke with him before they were forced into the cell, he was pale, shocked, afraid of the officers who kept yelling at them – and it was the first time I saw his stoicism slip out of concern for his two younger colleagues and the prospect of spending the night with 200 other detainees and becoming a litigant for the first time,” she said, referring to Soliven. 

 Desierto told The STAR that one of the bar owners asked the firm to send the three lawyers as witnesses.

She said the three lawyers were able to introduce themselves before they quietly took down notes and photos during the search, but to their surprise, they were allegedly handcuffed and arrested. 

She also said they “have been regularly in contact with the police,” belying claims the lawyers did not coordinate with the lawmen.

City police chief Superintendent Rogelio Simon said that he stands by the professionalism of the members of the station’s drug enforcement unit. 

At least P1.7 million worth of party drugs were confiscated during a raid on the bar on Aug 10. Police sought a search warrant after failing to open two vaults in the bar.

JAN VINCENT SOLIVEN LENIE ROCEL ROCHA ROMULO BERNARD ALARCON
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