Envoy: Mauling of Papua New Guinea student 'isolated'-A A +A
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano asked for an investigation report of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), so he can show that the mauling of a foreign student in Cebu City will not be tolerated.
“Now we are all in danger of retaliation here,” he said, referring to thousands of Filipinos who work in that country. “We have to explain to the PNG authorities that this is an isolated case.”
Bennidict Penini, 29, made bail on Tuesday, two days after two Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) policemen beat him up and arrested him in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City, where he allegedly ran amuck.
He faces a case of disobedience to authority and resisting arrest.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe defended the two Swat operatives who are now being investigated, after a video of the beating made it to the local and national newscasts.
“The thought that the Swat team is willing to risks their lives was not highlighted. I hope the people will not judge based on what they saw in the footage,” said Buenafe.
After Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 4 Judge Rosabella Tormis signed the release order, Penini’s lawyer, Fritz Lastimoso, told reporters they are open to the possibility of filing a complaint against PO1 Phillip James Tanza and PO2 Bradford Lavandero.
But they still have to decide on the matter.
“(Penini) still needs to relax,” he said. “He is okay. He is taking a little medication.”
During the 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Hotel on Tuesday, Senior Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador said the mauling should be a reminder to all policemen that people are looking at them, whatever they are doing.
There could have been no public issue had the two policemen just arrested the information technology student without hurting him.
Last Sunday, Lavandero and Tanza received a radio message telling them to support two Mobile Patrol Group (MPG) teams that responded to a trouble alarm outside Alicia Towers in Barangay Banilad.
When they arrived, they saw Penini allegedly throwing stones at a group of bystanders. They approached him and introduced themselves as police officers. Afterwards, they instructed Penini to put down the stones.
But Penini allegedly did not obey and instead threw several stones at Lavandero and Tanza. Penini then allegedly struck a stone on the jaw of taxi driver Giovanni Catib, 33.
“Sensing that (Penini) can no longer be handled in a diplomatic manner, we decided to apply tolerable force against him,” said the police officers in their joint affidavit.
Yasi Herbic of an education consultancy firm thanked ABS-CBN for airing the footage of the police officers beating Penini.
“The fact that it was actually aired shows there are still good people here,” said Herbic, whose firm was responsible for bringing Papua New Guineans to Cebu City to study.
But for his part, Catib said he was disappointed that the television network did not air the scene when Penini struck him on the jaw. He said he watched the video on YouTube and he only saw himself kicking the foreigner.
CHR Central Visayas Chief Investigator Primo Cadampog said that Penini visited their office at past 5 p.m. of Tuesday to file a complaint against Tanza and Lavandero.
“Part of our investigation is to check the background of both parties, find witnesses and also get the medical records,” said Cadampog in a phone interview.
An amateur video aired on Tuesday over TV Patrol Cebu showed that before the Swat arrived, Penini and his other friends were engaged in a brawl in the middle of the road.
Did the two Swat operatives employ reasonable force in subduing an unruly foreign national?
Retired police general Fritz Quiñanola believes so.
“The way it appears, there was reasonable force. Squeezing the trigger could be an apparent case of unreasonable force,” Quiñanola, the former Police Regional Office-Central Visayas director, told Sun.Star Cebu.
Quiñanola, a lawyer, said that in determining whether reasonable force was used, authorities consider several circumstances, including the condition of the suspect.
The investigators should also take note of the “justifying circumstances” provided in the Revised Penal Code, he said.
“If what resulted in the arrest of a foreign national was in line with the performance of duty by the Swat team, then their acts are valid,” he said.
“What would have been unreasonable is if they (the police) shot the foreign national. Good thing they didn’t squeeze the trigger,” Quiñanola said. (EOB/KAL/JBT/GMD of Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 12, 2012.