By Jeffrey Damicog
Those arrested for defying measures against the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will have to be released if they have not been charged in court for up to 36 hours, a lawyers group said on Friday, March 20.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) made this reminder in a bulletin it posted on Facebook which answers public concerns during the period the government has been implementing quarantine measures.
“Persons validly arrested without warrants of arrest have to be charged within the periods fixed under Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code (which range from 12, 18 or 36 hours maximum, depending on the imposable penalty of the crime charged),” the NUPL said.
“If no charge is made beyond these periods, the detention becomes illegal and you should be released,” it stressed.
Even during these times when measures have been implemented against the spread of the virus, the NUPL said the government cannot suspend the period when a person is detained.
The NUPL also reminded the public that whenever arrests are made, law enforcement should inform those arrested of their rights including the right to remain silent, to have a competent and independent counsel, and the right to be visited by a lawyer, doctor, family, priest or religious minister, national non-government organization (NGO) accredited by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and international NGO accredited by the Office of the President.
It added that arrested persons cannot be harmed and threatened as well as placed in a secret detention.
The NUPL warned that authorities who failed to inform the arrested persons of their rights that criminal, civil and administrative suits can be filed for violating Republic Act 7438, An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation as Well as the Duties of Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers, and Providing Penalties Thereof.