MANILA, Philippines—A security guard freed last week by the Court of Appeals for being mistakenly identified as a top communist leader on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ), linking his unlawful arrest, torture and 11-month detention to what could be a P19-million reward scam.
Rolly Mira Panesa, 48, filed a complaint against 11 military men and civilians—among them two ranking generals—for violating his rights and presenting him as 61-year-old Benjamin Mendoza, the alleged secretary-general of the rebel New People’s Army in Southern Luzon with a P5.6 million prize for his capture.
In his 12-page complaint before the DOJ, Panesa said that before the appeals court finally ordered his release on Aug. 27, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista had reportedly awarded prize money amounting to almost P19 million to “tipsters” of alleged communist leaders—including Mendoza.
“It only then became clear to me why the military kept insisting that I was Benjamin Mendoza and why it got witnesses saying I was Benjamin Mendoza even if it knew I was Rolly Mira Panesa. [The AFP] made sure I would stay long in jail so as to give them more time to process the release of the reward,”’ Panesa charged.
It was not clear how the military was able to detain Panesa for so long, and why the courts took 11 months before granting the man’s plea for a writ of habeas corpus.
A week after he was finally released, Panesa went to the DOJ to seek justice and redress. He said he was severely beaten during his arrest and detention.
“I’m fine now but I will fight because what they did to me was inhuman,” said Panesa, who talked to reporters and was accompanied by his lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers and members of Karapatan group.
Accused of torture and other violations of human rights were: Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, former commanding officer of the Southern Luzon Command and the current Vice Chief of Staffing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and Maj. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario, commanding officer of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Also accused were P/CSupt. James Andres Melad, former PNP region 4 director; P/SSupt. Manuel Abu, chief region 4 intelligence director; P/CInsp. Reynaldo Mendoza of the intelligence office in Region 4; Col. Genoroso Bolina, spokesperson of Solcom; P/Ins. Bonifacio Guevarra, leader of the team who arrested him; SPO1 Christopher Flores, PO2 Ariel De La Cruz, PO2 Joseph Fernandez, and PO1 Ellior De Lima. Civilians on his list included lawyer Alex Alberto Popanes, Luis Grajo Rayos, Michael Rojo Alvardo and Erwin Rosales.
Panesa accused them of violating the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, the rights of persons arrested and unlawful arrest.
Panesa also accused the four private individuals in his list of “incriminatory machination and perjury,” for alleging he was the CPP leader Mendoza.
Panesa was arrested on Oct. 5 last year by a joint police and military team in Quezon City.
Panesa sought a writ of habeas corpus from the Supreme Court, which in turn asked the Court of Appeals to hold hearings on the case. Last Aug. 27, the CA fifth division finally ruled that Panesa was mistakenly identified as Mendoza and ordered his release from Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.