By Jeffrey Damicog
Three lawyers who represent a Makati City bar where P1.6 million worth of illegal drugs were seized last year have been cleared of complaints filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) which accused them of interfering in the work of investigators.
The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office has issued a resolution which cleared lawyers Lenie Rocel Elmido Rocha, Jan Vincent Sambrano Soliven, and Romulo Bernard Bustamante Alarkon of obstruction of justice in violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); resistance and disobedience; violation of City Ordinance No. 96-298, and constructive possession of drugs in violation of Section 11 in relation to Section 3(ee) of the Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“After a careful evaluation of the evidence on record, we find no probable cause to indict the respondents for the crimes complained of,” read the resolution which reached the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The resolution is signed by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Romel Odronia and approved by Deputy City Prosecutor Henry Salazar.
The case stemmed from the August 11, 2018 police raid led by Police Insp. Jeson Vigilla of the Times Bar where authorities seized P1.6 million worth of party drugs and marijuana.
Though the three introduced themselves as representing the Times Bar, the lawyers were arrested at around that time after being accused by police of having entered the premises without prior coordination, contaminating the site, taking pictures and videos of the police team, and allegedly trying to intimidate authorities.
The prosecutor’s office pointed out “evidence is unclear as to the manner by which respondents purportedly interfered in the performance of the duty of the complainants, and also as to the actions of respondents that purportedly obstructed, delayed the implementation of the search warrant.”
“Neither is there proof offered that any evidence seized were contaminated or compromised,” it added.
Also, the prosecutor’s office stated that “claim of complainants that respondents went inside the Times Bar sans any client to represent is tenuous and there is not credible.”
To disprove this allegation, the prosecutor’s office cited the respondents submitted the video footage of the confrontation with police and “proves devastating for complainants because in there it clearly shows that respondents told Vigilla that they are the legal counsel of Server (Burton Joseph Server III)…”
“Thus, it is clear from the evidence that respondents’ presence in the Times Bar during the implementation of the Search warrant was legally justified considering that they were the legal counsel of Burton Joseph L. Server III whose right to legal representation is unquestionable considering that he is one of the owners of the establishment and one of the named respondents in the search warrant,” it pointed out.