Rolly Panesa’s family files habeas corpus plea
MANILA, Philippines—The family of a security guard allegedly taken by the military after he was mistaken to be part of the Communist Party of the Philippines asked the Supreme Court to order his release from detention.
In a 9-page petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Marites Chioco, common-law wife of detained security guard Rolly Panesa, 48, said the military took her husband mistaking him for a certain Benjamin Mendoza, 68, the secretary of the CPP in Southern Luzon with a P5.6-million reward for his capture.
Panesa, she said, was arrested on October 5 by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army led by Southern Luzon Commander Major General Alan Luga and the Philippine National Police on Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City. She said, she, Panesa and two others were blindfolded. After hours of travel, they learned that they were taken to PNP Regional Office IV at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.
Marites Chioco was also detained for hours and forced to admit that she is “Ka Luisa,” the wife of Benjamin Mendoza. Insisting that she is not, she was eventually released. Their two companions – their pregnant daughter and her husband – were also released.
Chioco said authorities refused to release Panesa saying there were warrants for his arrest. The warrants for his arrest, however, according to Chioco, were under the name “Benjamin Mendoza.”
She said Panesa sustained injuries while he was in detention. He is detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail for rebellion and frustrated murder.
“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,” the petition stated.
“The warrant of arrest and the commitment order issued against ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ cannot be made as basis for the continued detention of Rolly,” it further stated.
Respondents in the petition include Inspector Bernardino Edgar T. Camus, jail warden of the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail; Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Commanding General of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM); Maj. Gen. Eduardo D. del Rosario, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; P/CSupt. James Andres B. Melad, Regional Director, Philippine National Police Regional Office IV; and, P/SSupt. Manuel M. Abu, Chief of the Regional Intelligence Office of the PNP Regional Office IV.
“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.
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