A STRING of criminal complaints was lodged this week at the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against a police official, three officers of a union and several unidentified police officers over “a malicious and unlawful warrantless arrest.”

Dante Libre and Jesus Ebarra filed the complaints for violation of Articles 125 and 269 of the Revised Penal Code, Republic Act 7438 and grave misconduct against Insp. Rex Binarao, chief of the Basak Police Station in Mandaue City, and Arnold Arcipe, Jorge Ente and Rommel Uy of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

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RA 7438 defines the rights of persons arrested, detained or under investigation, as well as the duties of the arresting officers.

The case stemmed from a conflict between the R & Y Augousti Employees Union ALU-TUCP and closed furniture company Chagrin Inc. in Barangay Pagsabungan, Mandaue City, whose workers staged strikes over alleged union-busting.

In their joint affidavit, Libre said Agustin Torres asked him if he was interested to work at Chagrin. He said yes.

At that time, the strike was ongoing outside the company.

Last July 17, Libre said he was told Chagrin Inc. was providing a service shuttle to its employees in going to the company.

However, when he failed to catch up with their service vehicle, Libre said he rode a motorcycle to work. Ebarra drove it.

When he arrived there, Libre said he saw disgruntled employees staging a picket outside Chagrin.

While standing outside the company’s gate some 50 meters away from protesters, Libre said he received a call from Torres, informing him that strikers had blocked the company’s gate.

He said Torres told him to return home instead.

Libre said some strikers overheard his phone conversation with Chagrin’s worker.

Some strikers then accosted Libre and Ebarra and brought them to the Basak Police Station, where they were accused of “conspiracy in committing threats, illegal discharge of firearms and physical injuries.”

“The act of the police officers in detaining us for more than 60 hours (since 8 p.m. of July 17 to July 20) is enough ground to indict them for violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code,” the complainants said.

The police, they said, failed to inform them of their rights or why they were arrested.

“We never harmed anyone. We never participated in, planned or conspired with anyone for the commission of any crime or offense. By merely standing around, we never committed any crime in the presence of anyone that would justify their claims of a citizens’ arrest,” the complaint read.