Protest | COVID-19 | Freedom of speech

Ateneo Human Rights Center


Atty. Marianne Agunoy

Protesting in the time of COVID-19: I was arrested, what will happen to me?

This is part 3 of our 3-part article series where we discuss with Atty. Marianne Agunoy of the Ateneo Human Rights Center your right to protest and practical tips on how to safely exercise this right


You can read part 1 - "Protesting in the time of COVID-19: Before the protest" here and part 2 - "Protesting in the time of COVID-19: I'm being arrested, what should I do?" here.


Do you know what to expect and what you should do after being arrested? Here in part 3 we continue our interview of Atty. Marianne Carmel B. Agunoy [1] of the Ateneo Human Rights Center (“AHRC”) focusing on what will happen to you after being arrested and what you should do (or not do) after being arrested.

Legal Tree (“LT”): In the worst case that you are arrested at a protest, what should you expect?

Atty. Agunoy: After being arrested you will be brought to a police station and undergo a booking procedure. During the booking procedure the police will collect your personal information, record information about the alleged crime you committed and take your mug shot, among others. As part of the booking procedure you may be subjected to a physical examination.

If you are arrested without a warrant, which is normally the case if you are arrested at a protest, you will undergo an inquest proceeding. The inquest proceeding is where the prosecutor will determine if you were validly arrested and if there is probable cause to charge you with a crime.

If the prosecutor decides there is no probable cause, you will be released for further preliminary investigation. If the prosecutor decides that probable cause exists that you committed a crime, you will continue to be detained and a formal criminal complaint will be filed against you in court. The inquest should be done within reasonable time and, if the prosecutor finds probable cause that you committed a crime, you should be promptly allowed to apply for bail.

LT: If the police ask you questions after being arrested, can you remain silent?

Atty. Agunoy: At any point during and after your arrest, you may exercise your right to remain silent and refuse to answer any of the questions from the police.

LT: Can you call a lawyer after being arrested?

Atty. Agunoy: You are entitled to call a lawyer throughout your arrest and detention. You have the right to be assisted by a lawyer of your choice and, if you can’t afford one, then the State should provide you with an independent and competent counsel.

LT: How long can the police keep you detained in jail?

Atty. Agunoy: That depends on the offense you will be charged with. You may be detained for a maximum of 12 hours (for light offenses), 18 hours (for less grave offenses), or 36 hours (for grave offenses) only. If you are detained beyond these periods, this can result in arbitrary detention which is a crime the police may be charged with.

In every case, you should be informed of the cause of your detention and be allowed upon your request to communicate at any time with your attorney. 

LT: What should you do (or not do) while being detained in jail?

Atty. Agunoy: First, it is best to remain silent and remember that everything you say may be used against you. Contact a lawyer at the earliest opportunity and always speak to the police only in your lawyer’s presence.

Remember that you have the following rights that are guaranteed by the law and Constitution:

  • Be treated as a human being
  • Due process, including being informed of written regulations in the detention center
  • Not being subjected to harsh, excessive or inhuman punishment such as corporal punishment or solitary confinement
  • Receive visits from family, friends, and lawyers
  • Practice your religion
  • Adequate food, clothing, and healthful accommodations
  • Be furnished with or to procure reading or writing materials
  • Be kept separate from convicts serving sentence
  • Speedy, impartial, and public trial

LT: Who can I approach to file a complaint if I think I was unlawfully arrested?

Atty. Agunoy: If you think you were lawfully arrested, it is best to bring your case to the Commission on Human Rights.

You may also file countercharges through your lawyer or legal aid groups like Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL), the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), or Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), among others.

We hope this 3-part article series on your right to protest and practical tips on how to safely exercise your right has been helpful to you. Hopefully, you are now better prepared and confident to exercise your right to protest and make your voice be heard on important social issues.

Need to talk to a lawyer?

If you need to consult a lawyer about your right to protest and to help you if you're arrested, our Partner Lawyers are ready to help you.

Submit your legal question using our “Ask an Attorney” service and a lawyer will contact you within 3 business days to advise you.


[1] Atty.  Marianne Carmel B. Agunoy is the current program manager of AHRC. As program manager, she does research, coordination, and training on various projects concerning the promotion and protection of human rights. She is also one of the petitioners who filed a case before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Law.

The photograph used in this article is subject to copyright of Rappler.