Makati prosecutor junks raps vs lawyers of 'drug den' Makati bar owner

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Metro Manila police, led by Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, raided the Times in Manila bar in August 2018 and ₱1.6 million worth of party drugs in a buy-bust operation. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — The Makati City Prosecutor's Office has junked the cases filed by the Makati City police against the three lawyers of the Times in Manila bar, which authorities closed down after seizing ₱1.6 million worth of drugs in August 2018.

In a January 31 resolution, the Makati City Prosecutor's Office said the police failed to present enough evidence for them to charge lawyers Lenie Rocel Rocha, Jan Vincent Soliven and Romulo Bernard Alarkon with constructive possession of drugs, obstruction of justice and disobedience.

"From the totality of evidence on record, it was clearly demonstrated that complainants have failed to discharge their burden to prove their factual claims against respondents," the Makati prosecutor said in a resolution signed by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Romel Odronia.

It dismissed the claims of policemen who said that Rocham, Soliven and Alarkon refused to show identification, forced themselves inside the bar, interfered with the search, and touched and held seized drugs.

Particularly, it cast doubt on the testimony of a policeman who said the three lawyers did not identify themselves and insisted that they enter the bar despite warnings. It said that he acted inconsistently with how a policeman would have reacted to a security breach, as there is no evidence that he reported this to his colleagues.

"The failure of [PO1] Morota to lend a touch of realism to his story tempts us to conclude that he was not telling the truth and that his story was made only to complement that of the complainants," the Makati City Prosecutor's Office said.

READ: PNP Chief awards police who arrested lawyers in Makati bar incident

It added that the claims of the Makati police are "even more questionable" as the evidence shows that the lawyers entered the bar at around 12:30 p.m., when police completed the latest inventory receipt at 11:56 p.m.

It said it is "ludicrous and farcical" to say that the three lawyers had constructive possession of illegal drugs, as they do not have dominion and control over the place and the drugs seized.

It also said that the they could not have violated a city ordinance and obstructed justice when they entered the bar's premises during a raid, as they had all the right to do so because they were representing Burton Joseph Server III, one of the owners of Time.

"It is their duty to do anything and everything to protect and establish the rights of their client so long that it does not constitute a violation of the law," it said.

The Makati prosecutor's office also said that the police failed to prove that the lawyers resisted or seriously disobeyed them.

Rocha, Soliven and Alarkon were arrested by police in August who claimed that the three entered Times bar without their permission and started taking pictures and videos of the bar while they conducted a search. They also said that the three interfered in their search.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.