Batas Mauricio .
THAT had always been the alibi, Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade: “I did my best”. But, as the popular song by James Ingram intones, “…I guess my best wasn’t good enough,” especially in the light of thousands and thousands of passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport who can’t travel yet because of the Xiamen Airlines plane from China that had a bumpy landing at the runway.
If you did your best, Mr. Tugade, and your best resulted in this mess, isn’t it time to seriously consider allowing others to try their hand in running our airports, particularly Naia? You cannot deny this, Mr. Tugade, that during the entire time that you are the top honcho at DOTR, the agency has become totally inefficient and ineffective in managing airports, and the other transporation sectors in the country.
The glaring truth here is that, it is not you, Mr. Tugade, who is being shamed by all these. It is President Duterte, because he had the misfortune of placing a Cabinet secretary whose “best” always turned out to be the “worst performance.” Can we please spare the President of more embarrassing humiliations arising from your ineffective discharge of your duties, Mr. Tugade, by your immediate resignation?
Not only lawyers, but I would say the entire nation as well, should pay close attention and act as one to assure that the truth will come out over the arrest of three young lawyers who were tasked to help the owner of a Makati City bar at the time it was being raided by the Philippine National Police last week, on suspicion that it had been a source of illegal drugs.
Too, the refusal of a prosecutor from the Department of Justice to release the arrested lawyers from detention, even if the time provided for by law for their incarceration while being investigated had already lapsed, must likewise be fully scrutinized and looked into by top DOJ executives.
I am afraid that there have been arrests similar to that which happened to the young lawyers in many parts of the Philippines taking place in the past, even if they were merely discharging their duties and responsibilities as lawyers. Unfortunately, however, these were not given much attention. With the arrest of the lawyers in the Makati City bar incident, who were even seen being handcuffed by policemen, everyone should now insist that the truth be unveiled, once and for all.
One important issue here is the right of lawyers whose clients are being raided, arrested, or detained by the police, to take up the cudgels for those clients. Would it be obstruction of justice for a lawyer to confront the police, even in a belligerent and bellicose manner, to make sure that the raid, arrest, or detention, is in accordance with the law?
The fact is that, there is a law which remains valid and binding in the Philippines even up to now which gives lawyers the right to visit, confer, and advise their clients right away, even from the very moment of arrest or detention. This law is called as Republic Act 7438. It was passed in April 1992 yet, under the term of President Corazon Aquino.
This law is otherwise known as “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 violations thereof…” According to it, anyone who is being arrested or detained or is being investigated for an offense has the absolute right to be assisted by his lawyers immediately and that, if he has no means to get a lawyer, the police should give him one, free of charge.
Under RA 7438, any police officer or any law enforcement agent who would prevent the persons arrested, detained, or investigated by them from conferring with, or being assisted by, their lawyers faces stiff penalties.
Section 4 of the law prescribes the payment of the arrersting officer of a fine amounting to P6,000, and imprisonment of from eight to 10 years.
The law also strips the offending officer of any right to be employed in any other government agency or office. Again, I repeat, this law remains valid and binding and should be complied with by the PNP and others. It is therefore highly imperative that we ascertain how the authorities will act on the case of the lawyers in the Makati City bar incident, pursuant to RA 7438.
Of course, those who arrested the lawyers in Makati are now claiming that the lawyers acted arrogantly and were in fact meddling with the police investigation, and so the authorities did not have any other alternative but to take them into custody. Which arrogance and impudent behavior among lawyers is truly a reality that cannot be denied. But only the courts can now determine the truth in these allegations and counter-allegations. My advice? Each of the parties must sue one another,so the truth can come out!