Thursday, September 20, 2018

Police justify arrest of lawyers, claim harassment

SOUTHERN Police District (SPD) director Chief Superintendent Tomas Apolinario Jr. said Friday, August 17, that his men were “harassed” by the legal team of the bar that they raided on Thursday in Makati City, which prompted them to arrest and detain the three lawyers.

“As per team leader SDEU (Station Drug Enforcement Unit) PSI (Police Senior Inspector) Jeson Vigilla, binastos ang mga pulis natin, ‘yung dalawang lawyers tinatakot ang mga PO (police officer) 1,” he said.

(Two lawyers harassed and threatened our officers.)

Apolinario said the three lawyers were brought and detained at the Makati Police station and will be charged for obstruction of justice.

They were identified as Jan Vincent Sambrano Soliven, Lenie Rocel Elmido Rocha and Romulo Bernard Bustamante Alarkon.

Diane Desierto, one of the senior partners of the Desierto & Desierto law firm that employ the three lawyers, said they were representing one of the owners of the bar being raided.

“The police opened the cabinets, took their inventory, and then turned to my three young lawyers and said they had no authority to be there. My lawyers respectfully said they were legal counsels of the owner and were just sent by the firm to take notes and photograph the opening of the cabinets,” she said.

On Thursday, authorities searched the Time in Manila bar in Makati City following the raid on the same facility on Saturday, August 11. Illegal drugs transactions allegedly take place in the bar.

Found during the Saturday raid were at least P1.5 million worth of cocaine and P22,800 worth of ecstacy.

Apolinario said the three lawyers entered the bar without permission and took pictures and videos while police conducted a search.

He said the lawyers also refused to identify whom they represent.

“Also, as per PSI Vigilla, pumasok sa area ng police line sa loob ng Time Bar na hindi nagpaalam (‘yung tatlong lawyer), walang prior coordination at walang authority. Hindi rin nagpapakilala at walang written authority kung sino ang i-represent na client. Kumukuha ng pictures and videos sa area at sa mga operatiba natin. Pinipigilan ang mga operatiba natin na akyatin ang 3rd floor para i-search, dominantly asking for the copy of the search warrant sa mga operatiba na pakiramdam na ng mga pulis ay pressured na sila sa ginagawng search,” said Apolinario.

(Per PSI Vigilla, the three lawyers entered the police line inside the bar without permission, prior coordination, or authority. They did not identify themselves nor did present a written authority on whom they represent. They took pictures and videos of the area and of our operatives. They prevented our operatives from going up the third floor to search. They also asked for a copy of the search warrant in a manner that made our officers feel pressured.)

“One of their companions only presented a certification later in the evening attesting that the three lawyers arrested represent Burton Joseph Server as their client,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)