“Manila’s Finest” violated law on arrest of suspects PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 May 2017 14:08

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him…” (Ecclesiastes 8:12, the Holy Bible).

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“MANILA’S FINEST” VIOLATED LAW ON ARREST OF SUSPECTS: There is something more sinister than mere “lack of space” at the Raxabago unit of the Manila Police Department where men and women suspected of peddling illegal drugs have been detained even without charges, totally incommunicado and clearly not allowed to communicate with anyone, including their relatives.

The whole affair showed the blatant disregard of Manila policemen, who call themselves as “Manila’s Finest”, of the rights of  men and women arrested or invited for questioning in connection with a crime, provided for by the 1992 law called Republic Act 7438. What is Republic Act 7438?

Its full title says: An Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, or Under Custodial Investigation as well as the Duties of the Arresting, Detaining, and Investigating Officers, and Providing Penalties for the Violations Thereof.

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POLICE HAVE THE DUTY TO GIVE A LAWYER TO ARRESTED SUSPECTS: I will let RA 7438 itself speak about the rights of anyone being arrested, detained, or invited for questioning, and about the duties of the arresting, detaining, and investigating officers. Here are its important provisions: “ a) Any person arrested detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted by counsel.

“(b) Any public officer or employee, or anyone acting under his order or his place, who arrests, detains or investigates any person for the commission of an offense shall inform the latter, in a language known to and understood by him, of his rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to confer privately with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation.

“If such person cannot afford the services of his own counsel, he must be provided with a competent and independent counsel by the investigating officer.

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SEVERE PENALTIES AWAIT POLICEMEN WHO DISOBEY RA 7438: “(f) Any person arrested or detained or under custodial investigation shall be allowed visits by or conferences with any member of his immediate family, or any medical doctor or priest or religious minister chosen by him or by any member of his immediate family or by his counsel, or by any national non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Commission on Human Rights of by any international non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Office of the President…”

If these rights are not accorded those arrested, detained, or invited for questioning, there are severe penalties for the policemen who arrested, detained, or invited the suspects for questioning—eight to 10 years imprisonment for policemen who will not inform the accused of his or her rights, and who will not provide them with a lawyer at the time of the arrest, detention, or investigation.

The penalties include perpetual disqualification from holding government positions. Also, four to six years imprisonment await policemen who prevent or obstruct  any lawyer, any immediate family member, doctor, or priest or any religious minister from visiting or conferring privately with the arrested person. I say, let us test if this RA 7438 is still a good law by the filing of cases against the policemen involved.

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