No ‘special treatment’ for lawyers who break the law

Rambo Talabong
No ‘special treatment’ for lawyers who break the law
'Hindi tayo pwedeng magbigay ng special treatment kahit kanino,' says Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde

MANILA, Philippines – “No one is above the law.”

This was the message Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde emphasized in addressing the arrest of 3 lawyers monitoring the raid of the Time in Manila Bar in Makati on August 16.

Ang tanong natin diyan eh porke ba tayo ay abogado, porke ba tayo ay ganito mayaman, or mahirap na ganito…Sinabi na nga nating wala tayong sinisino-sino dito. When you violate the law, kahit sino ka pa, we will arrest you. You remember that,” Albayalde said in a Camp Crame press briefing on Monday, August 20.

(The question there is just because you are a lawyer or just because you are rich, or poor with [a position]…We already said that we do not recognize personalities here. When you violate the law, no matter who you are, we will arrest you. You remember that.)

Tandaan natin ‘yan noh, ‘yung hindi tayo pwedeng magbigay ng special treatment kahit kanino. (Remember that, that we cannot give special treatment to anyone),” he added.

He was asked by reporters whether the arrest of 3 lawyers was a reason for “alarm” as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and lawyer-officials have warned. (WATCH: Videos show arrest of lawyers in Makati bar raid)

Albayalde doesn’t want to make enemies: Albayalde said that he still respects lawyers as officers of the court, as they are allowed to join raids and ensure search warrants are implemented properly.

“We don’t have problems with lawyers…It’s their job to defend their client, and it’s our job to implement and uphold the law,” the top cop said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The police chief, however, warned attorneys not to overstep as the 3 Makati bar lawyers have allegedly done. Makati cops earlier accused the lawyers of not only refusing to name themselves and their clients, but also of “harassing” raiding cops.

“If you already meddle or prevent us from implementing the law, you will be charged accordingly,” Albayalde added.

Lawyers, Jan Vincent Soliven, Lenie Rocel Rocha, and Romulo Bernard Alarkon of the Desierto & Desierto law firm were initially detained by cops for “obstruction of justice” charges, but were later also accused of “resistance and disobedience”, illegally crossing police lines, and the controversial “constructive possession” of illegal drugs. 

Cops released them on Friday, August 17, after the attorneys secured a release order from their prosecutor saying that the cases needed further investigation. –

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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.