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Albayalde on arrest of lawyers: No one is above the law

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PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde. INQUIRER FILE / JAM STA ROSA

Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the police would not spare anyone who violates the law after a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) official decried the arrest of three lawyers who reportedly tried to prevent lawmen from enforcing a search warrant at a Makati City bar suspected of being a drug den.

“Wala tayong sini-sino. When you violate the law, kahit sino ka pa, we will arrest you, you remember that,” Albayalde said Monday.

“We will implement the law without fear or favor.  Hindi natin yan pwedeng pagbigyan: ‘yan man ay abogado, ‘yan man ay politician. Nobody is above the law,” he added.

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The police chief said they would not be cowed by erring individuals.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Saturday that the commission was “alarmed” by the incident, claiming that the police disrespected not only the lawyers but the profession itself.

“The Commission is deeply alarmed by the arrest of the three lawyers who were only fulfilling their obligation as counsels of their client. It shows an utter disrespect not only of the law profession but also of constitutionally enshrined rights,” she said.

READ: CHR exec lashes out at cops for arrest of lawyers in Makati bar raid

Speaking to reporters, Albayalde downplayed concerns about the arrest of the three lawyers, saying there was a valid reason behind it.

“Hindi kaya mas nakaka-alarma ‘yong pakikialam ng mga tao ‘don sa pulis natin?” Albayalde said in jest, during the press briefing on Monday at Camp Crame.

He said there were factors that led to the arrest of the lawyers.

“In fairness sa ating kapulisan, hindi siguro nila gagawin ‘yon without any compelling reason […] Let’s give respect also to our police personnel,” Albayalde said.

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“Remember these police, these uniformed-personnel are also humans,” he explained.

On Friday, lawyers who went the Times Bar in Makati City as policemen were searching the establishment were arrested for obstruction of justice.

During the confrontation, authorities said that the lawyers threatened those with the rank of PO1, blocked the third floor of the building, and insisted on seeing a search warrant.

The Times Bar was previously raided on August 11, as its employees and customers were allegedly involved in the drug trade.  Illegal drugs were reportedly seized on both occasions.

READ: Lawyers arrested for threatening cops in Makati bar raid / NCRPO, SPD inspect Makati bar anew

Albayalde revealed that the lawyers were even given special treatment not accorded to ‘ordinary’ citizens.

“In fact, sabi nung station commander, parang doon pa sila sa aircon na kwarto dinala, for their comfort.  Ang tanong: Doon bas a mahihirap nating kababayan eh ginagawa natin ‘yon?” he said. /cbb

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