MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The 3 lawyers arrested after the raid at the Time in Manila bar in Makati have been released from police custody on Friday, August 17.
They walked out of the Makati City police station at past 8 pm after securing a release order from the prosecutor's office.
They are Jan Vincent Sambrano Soliven, Lenie Rocel Elmido Rocha and Romulo Bernard Bustamante Alarkon of the Desierto and Desierto law firm, representing one of the owners of the twice-raided Makati bar.
Who are they? To recall, the 3 were arrested after allegedly committing "obstruction of justice" while monitoring the police during the raid of their client's establishment.
According to their boss, Diane Desierto, the 3 were merely doing their job of ensuring that the police were properly implementing the search warrant.
Cops said the 3 failed to identify themselves and did not coordinate before entering the bar with the searching party then taking photos and videos as the raid progressed. The cops asked them to leave after they allegedly refused to respond to queries by cops.
Why were they released? The release order said that cops need to investigate to "clear out some matters" on the grounds why the 3 lawyers were detained.
"[C]hief among which are: the specific actions that respondents allegedly did that constitute the crimes complained of, and importantly, what actions they did to constitute constructive possession of drugs seized in the premises," the order read.
The release order was penned by Makati City Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Romel Ordonia.
What comes next? The arrested lawyers have not been cleared completely. Their case has been recommended for preliminary investigation, which means cops and the lawyers would submit affidavits of the raid and the arrest to prove their case before a prosecutor.
The prosecutor would then decide whether the case would need a full-blown court trial.
The 3 are facing 4 cases:
1. Obstruction of Justice
2. Resistance & Disobedience
3. Violation of Section 11 (Constructive Possession) of Republic Act 9165
4. Violation of Makati City Ordinance No. 96-298 - unlawful for any unauthorized person to cross a police line. – Rappler.com
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.