No ‘criminal conspiracy’ happens when lawyers are serving their clients — IBP
Lawyers should not be treated as if they are committing “criminal conspiracy” while serving their clients, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), a national organization of lawyers said on Tuesday.
“It is the sworn duty of lawyers to use all lawful means to defend their clients. They should not be harassed, intimidated or treated like criminals when performing their duty,” IBP National President Abdiel Dan Fajardo said in a statement.
The IBP issued the statement following last week’s arrest of lawyers Leni Rocha, Jan Vincent Soliven, and Romulo Alarcon while they were documenting the police’s inventory after the raid at the Time in Manila Bar in Makati. The bar allegedly sells party drugs.
The police detained the lawyers and filed a complaint for obstruction of justice and constructive possession of illegal drugs.
“Such treatment of lawyers erodes the Constitution’s guarantee of due process for every person – be they our son or daughter, teenagers who violated the curfew, or those suspected of committing a crime,” Fajardo said.
Aside from violation of the Constitution, Fajardo said such treatment also violates the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which require the government to ensure that lawyers can perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference.
The UN principles also require that lawyers not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.
“In representing their clients in court, in counseling them while in detention, and in representing them during searches, lawyers are performing their constitutional duty to act as legal counsel, and should not be treated as if they are in criminal conspiracy with their clients,” Fajardo said.
He said “lawyers and law enforcers have a common duty. As officers of the court, both are tasked to help administer justice in accordance with law. The law enforcer’s zeal to investigate and arrest criminals is matched by the lawyer’s determination to ensure that legal rules are followed and legal rights are respected.”
The Makati Prosecutors’ Office has already ordered the release of the lawyers subject to further investigation. /vvp
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.