Philippines accused of mistaking guard for rebel-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
MANILA — Relatives of a security guard and a human rights group accused Philippine government troops Wednesday of mistaking the man for a communist rebel leader and torturing him earlier this month.
But regional military spokesman Col. Generoso Bolina said the man was Benjamin Mendoza and was using the name of security guard Rolly Panesa as an alias.
Bolina said the military has at least four witnesses, including former New People's Army guerrillas, who have identified Mendoza and will testify in murder and kidnapping charges against him.
Panesa's employer, Megaforce Security Services Corp., and his sister Josie Panesa said he has been working as a security guard for the same company since 1995. They also said that he is only 48 years old while the real Mendoza is 61.
A medical report from the Health Action for Human Rights, whose staff examined Panesa at a police jail near Manila three days after he was arrested Oct. 6, said he suffered numerous bruises, his face was puffy from the beatings and that he had injuries to an eye and an ear, and one tooth was chipped.
Bolina said the military will punish those found responsible if the torture allegations are true.
He earlier reported that troops had captured Mendoza in suburban Quezon city along with three other suspected insurgents.
The human rights group Karapatan said the three were Panesa's common-law wife, her daughter and her daughter's husband, who were all released a day later.
Bolina said Mendoza received military training in Libya in the 1980s, and was a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has been leading the Maoist insurgency in the country for more than 43 years.
Peace talks brokered by Norway to end one of Asia's longest-running insurgency have been stalled over disagreements between government and rebel negotiators seeking the release of about a dozen senior party leaders held in detention.
The government has also been battling a separate Muslim rebellion in the south whose end seems to be in sight after negotiators this week signed a preliminary peace pact. (AP)