No war with defense counsels: Albayalde

MANILAThe Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said it welcomes the active participation and assistance of members of the bar during the service of warrants and court processes.

Speaking to newsmen, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the police has always been working closely with members of the legal profession who opt to "guide and help" police in the orderly administration of justice.

Albayalde made the clarification in connection with the standoff betwen Makati police and three lawyers who were arrested during search of a suspected drug den in Makati City.

While recognizing lawyers' roles in protecting their clients, the PNP chief urged them "not to intimidate" policemen enforcing a court order.

The PNP chief, who met with some members of the Makati police who took part in the arrest of the lawyers, said the PNP "will provide these policemen with much better lawyers" if they are charged for the arrests of the counsels.

He also said the policemen enjoy a "presumption of regularity" in the exercise of their duties and had "acted with good reason" in acting against the lawyers.

"What we are saying is that no one will get special treatment" Albayalde said.

Makati City Station Drug Enforcement Unit operatives, led by Police Insp. Jeson Vigilla, arrested lawyers Lenie Rocha, 25, of Pasig City; Jan Vincent Soliven, 32, of Cavite; and Romulo Alarkon, 33, of Caloocan City for obstruction of justice after the three reportedly, at first, refused to identify themselves as well as their client, Burton Joseph Server III, to policemen.

Server was one of those named in the search warrant.

Southern Police District officials said the three lawyers entered the bar on Thursday and started taking photos without coordination and permission from police personnel at the site.

At one point, the lawyers allegedly threatened policemen who were in the establishment.

In a report to the National Capital Region Police Office, Makati police said the lawyers tried to prevent the operatives from proceeding to the third floor to conduct a search of the premises.

The lawyers were also repeatedly asked to step out of the police operation area but refused to do so.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) announced that it will be filing a habeas corpus suit shortly to question the arrest of the three lawyers before the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Makati police authorities on Thursday served a search warrant issued by the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on the registered owners and managers of Times Bar along Makati Ave., Makati City.

The warrant was handed down after the court found probable cause for charges of maintenance of a drug den and upon the judge's examination under oath of Chief Insp. Gideon Ines Jr., Assistant Chief of Police for Operations.

Aside from Server, others named in the warrant were Rico Rene Blanco, Cynthia Primero, Ma. Amparo Marcalinas, Reyan Ladrillo, and Danilo Regino.

The warrant covered a search for ecstasy, party drugs, shabu (crystal meth), marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia reportedly kept in two vaults inside the room of Regino at the second floor of the bar.

Last Aug. 11, a raid at the bar yielded a number of drugs, among them 19 pieces of ecstasy (four tablets and 15 capsules) valued at PHP142,500, some 18 sachets of cocaine valued at PHP1.57 million, and a sachet of kush.During the buy-bust operation, 31 employees of the bar, 57 foreigners and 63 local guests were invited for questioning but were later released. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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