Videos show arrest of lawyers in Makati bar raid

Rambo Talabong
Videos show arrest of lawyers in Makati bar raid
Rappler obtains videos showing what happened inside the Makati bar where 3 lawyers were arrested

MANILA, Philippines – While the 3 lawyers detained by Makati cops after monitoring a bar raid are already free, their fight with the police is not yet over.

Lawyers Jan Vincent Soliven, Lenie Rocel Rocha, and Romulo Bernard Alarkon of the Desierto & Desierto law firm are still facing complaints from cops, one of which is for “constructive possession” of illegal drugs.

How did the conflict begin? Let the videos do the talking.

As shown in videos obtained by Rappler, the 3 lawyers and policemen engaged in a confrontation before the arrest was made in the morning of Thursday, August 16.


“Kung wala kayong nire-represent ngayon, ‘yung ginawa po ‘nyong pagpasok dito, bawal ‘yun (If you have no one to represent here, your entrance here is prohibited),” Senior Inspector Jeson Vigilla, leader of the searching party, said at the beginning of the first video.

The 3 lawyers stood around Vigilla, while cops stood behind all of them in a circle at the dark Time in Manila bar.

Tinatanong ko ulit sinong nire-represent ninyo, dahil kung wala kayong nire-represent dito, aarestuhin ko kayo, dahil obstruction kayo (I am asking you again who you are representing, because if you are not representing anyone, I will arrest you. You are obstructing),” Vigilla continued.

One of the lawyers identified as Soliven replied, “Kami ang abogado (We are the lawyers).”

Police pressed the lawyers to name their client, until Soliven pulled out his phone and said that he needed to make a phone call. Vigilla then snatched Soliven’s phone from his hands and ordered the other cops to take the phones of Alarkon and Rocha.

That’s when Soliven said: “We represent, sir, one of the owners. As far as I know.”

Vigilla interrupted: “As far as I know, wala kayong nire-representa dito. Tinatanong namin kayo, ayaw ‘nyong magsalita (You are representing nobody. We have been asking you, but you did not want to talk).”


Vigilla then recapped events that happened before their heated confrontation: That the lawyers refused to introduce themselves, and that Soliven’s clients had nothing to do with the establishment.

Soliven again tried to respond, saying that they represent a certain “Mr Server.”

When asked for an “authorization” by Vigilla, the lawyers could not present any, so Vigilla ordered his men to handcuff the lawyers.

The lawyers tried to ask for clarification on why they are being arrested, and Soliven asked for his phone back so he can make a call.

Vigilla responded: “Kanina pa kayo diyan, pumasok-pasok kayo, ginagalaw ‘nyo, kung ano-ano ang ginagawa ‘nyo diyan, kanina ka pa bidyo nang bidyo. Tinatanong namin kayo kung sinong nire-represent ‘nyo. Wala?”

(You’ve been doing this for a while, entering, moving things around, doing things, and you have been taking videos. We were asking you who you were representing. Nobody?)

Inaaresto namin kayo, obstruction (We are arresting you for obstruction [of justice]),” he added.

Rocha tried to defend her group, asking why cops did not ask for their “authorization” earlier.

Tinatanong kayo sa labas, walang nagbigay sa inyo kahit isa (You were asked outside, nobody gave us, not even one).” Lawyer Rocha tried to speak, but Vigilla responded, shouting “Wala (nothing).”

Rocha then said: “This is entrapment sir. This is entrapment.”


The next clip shows Rocha already visibly angry and raising her voice: “Kung meron po kayong hinala sa amin, bakit ‘nyo po hind kinuha kanina yung authority namin? Hindi ‘nyo po…You allowed us!” (If you were suspecting us, why did you not ask for our authority earlier? You allowed us!)

Rocha was outshouted by Vigilla, who said: “Walang nag-allow sa inyo, kaya nga kayo inaaresto e. Walang nag-allow, kaya kita inaaresto ngayon. Wala.” (Nobody allowed you, that’s why you’re being arrested. Nobody allowed it, so I’m arresting you now. Nobody)!

Soliven again asked for his phone back, and his request was finally granted.


The next video showed cops reading out the rights of the lawyers as suspects.


The last video showed a much calmer Vigilla repeating his question on who the lawyer’s clients are.

Ang pagkakaalam ko po, sir, ‘yung isa sa mga may-ari (What I know is one of the owners),” Soliven said.

Rocha then said “Associates po kami sir (We are associates)” before she was gestured by Soliven to stop talking.

Kung hindi ‘nyo pa alam, dapat do’n pa lang sa labas sinasabi ‘nyo na, dahil hindi kayo p’wedeng pumasok dito. Obstruction ‘yung ginagawa ‘nyo (If you don’t know, you should have said so when you were outside, because you cannot enter here. What you are doing is considered obstruction),” Vigilla said.

Soliven asked to be given a chance to explain, but Vigilla refused. He then asked who among the lawyers went up to the other floors of the building during the raid.

Wala pong mali sa ginawa namin (There’s nothing wrong in what we did),” Soliven said. This angered Vigilla, who insisted the lawyers had no authority to be there.

The video ended with Soliven going through his phone that was taken from him earlier in the confrontation. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.