Lawyers’ groups decry arrest, charges against colleague
ILOILO CITY—The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has filed criminal complaints against a lawyer of the family of slain suspected drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr. even as lawyers’ groups raised alarm over how police treated their colleague.
Lawyer Marbehn Lumbo was accused of preventing the implementation of a search warrant for illegal drugs during a raid at the Odicta family compound in Barangay Malipayon last week, where three sons of the slain suspected drug lord were arrested.
Aside from the complaint for obstruction of justice, the PDEA in Western Visayas region also slapped Lumbo with another case for violation of Republic Act No. 1965, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, allegedly for being a “protector [or] coddler” of a drug den. The PDEA filed the complaints in the Iloilo City prosecutor’s office on Monday.
PDEA agents also arrested Odicta’s sons Melvin Jr., Michael and Darryl after the raiding team allegedly recovered 19 packs of suspected “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in their possession. The team also seized P300,000 cash, a .40 cal. pistol with bullets, a .22 cal. handgun, a hand grenade, checks and bank passbooks, among others.
They were charged with conspiracy to maintain a drug den. Melvin Jr. was also charged for possession of illegal drugs.
The Odicta children’s parents, Melvin Sr. and Meriam Odicta, were gunned down by a lone assassin on Aug. 29, after they disembarked from a passenger ship at the Caticlan port in Malay town in Aklan province.
Levi Ortiz, PDEA assistant regional director, said Lumbo “acted beyond his role and limits as a lawyer.”
But Lumbo said he was merely protesting why items not covered by the warrant were being taken by the raiding team, citing pieces of jewelry, cash and other family belongings.
His arrest, he said, puts lawyers in danger. “Handling drug cases does not make us protectors,” he said.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Western Visayas and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) on Panay Island decried Lumbo’s arrest.
NUPL Panay said it was concerned with the “high-handedness displayed by agents of the [PDEA] … for roughing up, arresting, handcuffing and detaining a colleague in the legal profession.
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