SC intervention in security guard's arrest sought-A A +A
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
THE family of security guard Rolly Panesa, who had been mistaken to be a communist leader, asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday to issue a writ of habeas corpus to compel the military and police to produce him before the Court.
In a nine-page petition, Panesa’s wife Marites Chioco and his sister Jiose Panesa told the High Court that Panesa was illegally arrested and tortured to force him to admit to being a certain “Ka Benjamin Mendoza,” supposedly a secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Southern Tagalog, who has a P5.6-million bounty for his capture.
Petitioners said the warrant of arrest and commitment order issued against “Mendoza” cannot be made a basis for the continued detention of Rolly at the Security Intensive Care Area (Sica) of the Metro Manila District Jail inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
“By way of emphasis, it must be stated that Rolly’s personal circumstances belie the claims of those who arrested him that he is ‘Benjamin Mendoza,’ and this can be verified through proper inquiry and investigation. Likewise, his employment records, which further establish that he is Rolly Mira Panesa, can be easily verified, since he is employed in a government-regulated industry under the supervision of the same enforcement agency which had him in custody from October 6 to October 8, 2012,” the petition stated.
According to the petition, Panesa’ abductors flagrantly violated his constitutional rights by their failure to explain to him the reason for his arrest, their failure to inform him of his constitutional rights, for their refusal to allow lawyers to confer with him on October 7, 2012, and for the severe torture that he suffered in their hands.
“Worse, there is no basis at all for his arrest and his continued detention considering he is not ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ who was the subject of the warrant of arrest,” petitioners added, noting that the Mendoza guy was supposed to be 61 years old, while Panesa only looks 48 years old.
Named respondents in the petition were Inspector Bernardino Edgar Camus, jail warden of the Sica; Major General Alan Luga, commanding general of the AFP Southern Luzon Command; Major General Eduardo del Rosario, commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army; Police Chief Superintendent James Andres Melad, regional director of Philippine National Police (PNP)-Region IV; and Police Senior Superintendent Manuel Abu, chief of the regional intelligence office of the PNP-Region IV.
Petitioners are being assisted by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers through counsel Edre Olalia and the human rights group Karapatan.
“Panesa’s illegal arrest, torture and continued illegal detention on the basis of trumped-up charges showcases the military’s arbitrariness in the conduct of its counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, and the government’s obsession to meet its self-imposed deadline to end the so-called insurgency,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan.
Records show that in the evening of October 5, Panesa, who is employed at the Megaforce security agency, his wife Chioco, his pregnant stepdaughter and her husband were walking along Aurora Boulevard corner F. Castillo Street in Project 4, Quezon City when two men suddenly grabbed him and pushed him face down on the ground.
Chioco tried to help her husband, but before she could do so, she saw her daughter Connierey Garcia and the latter’s husband Peter Que being forced into a van. When she tried to pull back her daughter, she too was grabbed by the same men and forced to board the same vehicle.
During their several hours of travel, she was blindfolded until they reached a gated office, which they later learned is the Regional Intelligence Office of the PNP Regional Office IV at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.
According to Chioco, Panesa was arrested by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.
While being interrogated, Panesa was tortured by their abductors and were being forced to admit that he was “Ka Benjamin.”
Chioco, on the other hand, was brought to another room where a male voice kept asking her, “Kamusta ka na, ‘Ka Luisa’? Hindi mo na ba ko natatandaan?”
Chioco denied that she was “Ka Luisa,” or that her husband was “Mendoza,” but their abductors ignored her protestations. The interrogation lasted for three hours.
Around 7 a.m. of the next day, the interrogator left the room, after which she was also allowed to leave.
Before doing so, Chioco confronted one of the police officers inside the room, and asked him why they were being held, to which the police officer told her that they were after her husband since he is a member of the New People’s Army.
The policeman then showed her warrants of arrest issued by the Gumaca, Quezon regional trial court in the case of “People againts Danilo Benjamin Mendoza,” who was being charged for murder and rebellion.
Before noon of October 6, Garcia and Que were released. Chioco was told that she was no longer under detention and may leave the facility at any time, but she chose to stay with her husband so she could treat his wounds, until the afternoon of October 7.
The following day, Panesa was being transferred to the Sica in Bicutan but was initially rejected because of his obvious grave physical condition and absence of prior medical examination. That same day, he was examined at the Regional Crime Laboratory and again at the Sica, where the injuries he sustained while in detention were noted.
On October 9, he was brought to the Taguig RTC where a commitment order was issued in the case of “People vs Tirso Alcantara et al,” where “Benjamin Mendoza” was given the alias “Rolly Mendoza,” on which basis he was detained at the Sica. (JCV/Sunnex)