FORMER SunStar Davao columnist Margarita "Gingging" Valle who was reportedly arrested on Sunday morning, June 9, at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental was released from police custody after nine hours with authorities citing that her arrest was a “mistaken identity.”
Rius Valle, Gingging’s son, said his mother was released from Camp Abelon on Sunday evening.
His mother was set to board a plane going back to Davao City after conducting a writing training-workshop in Pagadian City for Rural Missionaries of the Philippines when she was held by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Zamboanga Peninsula during the joint police-military operation “Pagtugis” (chase).
As of yesterday afternoon, his mother is still in Pagadian City taking a rest and has not flown back to Davao City. She refused to be interviewed by journalists as she said “her whole system is very upset.”
After the incident, Rius said they will run after those who are responsible for his mother’s arrest and make them accountable.
Police said Valle has a “close” resemblance to a wanted person with multiple charges.
“Rest assured we will stay vigilant. We will hold them accountable. If they can do this to a journalist, what will prevent them from doing this to an ordinary citizen? We will hold them accountable,” Rius added.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists (NUJP) condemned the operation of the Philippine National Police (PNP), calling it inexcusable as it is considered a criminal abduction of a journalist.
“The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines strongly condemns Valle's abduction and the CIDG's violation of her basic rights,” the statement said.
They also questioned the incommunicado of Valle after her family could not contact her while she was in police custody, which made her family worry about her safety. They also referred the incident as equivalent to “shoot now, ask questions later.”
“She was forcibly taken using a warrant of arrest issued against Elsa Renton alias Tina Maglaya and Fidelina Margarita Valle. Renton, an alleged communist party member, has standing warrants of arrest for arson and multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and damage to government property,” NUJP said.
“And the truth is that Ms. Valle's abduction could have had dire, even fatal, consequences. There is no lack of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to drive home this point. We demand that the police and military personnel involved in this inexcusable travesty and their superiors be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said on Monday, June 10, that the Philippine National Police is looking into possible lapses, specifically the failure of intelligence, in the columnist's arrest.
The PNP chief also urged the Gingging to file a complaint if she felt that her rights were violated, adding that the PNP will provide assistance to her.
“If ‘yung tao na yun feels na she was violated we will be very glad to assist her kung talagang ‘yung pagkaaaresto sa kanya or the manner she was arrested and then kung meron na-violate sa kanya while she was in custody then kung meron syang complaint, kung may viniolate doon sa amin we will not hesitate to file charges against our people,” he said in a press conference Monday.
“In fact whether kung meron syang reklamo o wala iimbestigahan po namin yan para hindi na maulit ang bagay na yan (Whether she has a complaint or not, we will investigate the incident to make sure it will not be repeated),” he added.
Albayalde said cases of mistaken identity sometimes happens during police operations.
“’Yung pag aresto (on mistaken identity) talagang hindi lang yata first time yan. There are isolated cases also of mistaken identities sa mga tao natin kasi kung minsan nagkakamali ‘yung nagtuturo especially the complainant,” said Albayalde.
“Kasama doon sa investigation on how deep ‘yung kanilang case buildup dito. Remember our law enforcers hindi naman talaga kilala ‘yung subject. It is the complainant ang nakakakilala sa subject usually and ito they based their actions on the informant,” he added.
Albayalde said the PNP Internal Affairs Service will conduct the investigation. (With SunStar Philippines and CEA)