CHR probes arrest of lawyers in Makati bar raid

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it has launched its own probe into the arrest of 3 lawyers who were monitoring a police search on a raided bar in Makati City.

In a statement on Saturday, August 18, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the commission will "continue to pursue its investigation on the matter."

She confirmed in a DZBB interview on Saturday that the commission has begun a motu proprio probe, which means they initiated it on their own.

In her separate statement, De Guia said CHR is "deeply alarmed" by the arrest of the lawyers "who were only fulfilling their obligation as counsels of their client."

She said it is a "a constitutional right of every Filipino to be represented by a counsel of his or her own choice."

"It shows an utter disrespect not only of the law profession but also of constitutionally enshrined rights. It emboldens other law enforcement agencies and puts at risk ordinary Filipino citizens," De Guia added. 

 

What happened? On Thursday, August 16, Makati City police detained lawyers Jan Vincent Sambrano Soliven, Lenie Rocel Elmido Rocha, and Romulo Bernard Bustamante Alarkon for alleged "obstruction of justice" during a search and inventory of the Time in Manila bar. 

The cops first raided the bar on Saturday, August 11, for allegedly selling party drugs to customers.

Desierto & Desierto law firm, which represents one of the bar owners, said the 3 lawyers were merely taking down notes and taking photos of the police inventory.

But Southern Police District head Chief Superintendent Tomas Apolinario claimed the lawyers "harassed" the cops.

The lawyers were released from police custody on Friday night, August 17.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Free Legal Assistance Group have both denounced the arrest. – Rappler.com