PHILIPPINES CHINESE ARRESTS INVALID, SAYS DEFENSE LAWYER (Update)
Manila court weighs technical arguments over legality of arrest warrants.
Last November's mass arrests by Philippines police and immigration officials of 1,317 allegedly illegal immigrant Chinese nationals working in the online gambling industry was the subject of legal arguments in a Manila court this week, when 39 of those arrested contested the legality of the warrant.
Representing the thirty-nine plaintiffs, defense lawyer Irene Bianca B. Distura claimed that the warrant that led to her clients’ apprehension is “invalid.”
Disturba argued that under Philippines law, the ‘mission order’ on the warrant “should specifically state persons and personal circumstances.”
She added that the warrant used was vague in its mission wording, saying that the objective only generally specified "foreigners who are allegedly violating immigration laws." This was an overly broad description to the point of absurdity, she argued, pointing out that it could cover "all illegal aliens anywhere in the country.”
“The mission order even omitted to state the immigration status, personal peculiarities, place of residence of other circumstances by which the subjects or aliens can be identified,” the counter-affidavit read, concluding with a submission that the police and immigration raiding team had no right to be at the location of the arrests (the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino at the Clark Freeport) on the date the arrests took place.
Ms. Disturba also claims in her 14 page affidavit that items seized by the raiding party during the operation are inadmissible as evidence as a result of the flawed warrant, under the "fruit from a poisoned tree" legal principle.
The affidavit also claims that officials behaved improperly in forcing those arrested to sit before computer screens whilst they took photographs.
Co-Defense lawyer Jonathan Sarte asked why the DoJ Cybercrime office had filed criminal charges against the 39 Chinese workers, bearing in mind that they are already facing deportation charges from the Bureau for Immigration, which was also a part of the Department of Justice. He said that these constituted two inconsistent actions, and that in any case the arrested Chinese had no knowledge of matters regarding the gambling licensing of their employer.
Sarte suggested that the Chinese were victims of illegal recruitment, as they were promised a different job but “when they arrived they didn’t know that it involved illegal gambling.”
The court is considering the arguments presented by all interested parties.