Mauling victim posts bail; other Papua New Guinea students may leave Cebu, says agent
It was Benedict Penini’s turn to file a complaint against local policemen who mauled him after responding to a trouble alarm.
The 29-year-old Papua New Guinea student, whose violent arrest after a drinking spree on Sunday in Cebu City was captured by a TV camera, filed a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against officers of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
He was released from police custody yesterday after posting P2,000 bail on a charge of resistance and disobedience to authority.
The Information Technology student of the University of Southern Philippines (USP) was accompanied by his lawyer Fritz Lastimoso and Yasi Herbic, an Iranian friend.
Herbic said many of the 29 students from Papua New Guinea studying in Cebu have decided to leave after Sunday’s mauling incident.
“We tried to convince them that Cebu is a better place but we can only do so much,” she told Cebu Daily News.
“Many of the parents (from Papua New Guinea) are disappointed. We are making a lot of effort to convince them that Cebu is still a safe place.”
Herbic who runs Paradise Education Consultancy agency in Cebu City, said she had helped Penini to study in Cebu.
She said she saw part of the rough handling on Sunday when she dropped by barangay Banilad, Cebu City. She said she immediately got down from her car and approached Penini.
Police said SWAT members used reasonable force in subduing the foreigner, who was intoxicated and caused a commotion after a drinking spree with countrymen ended in a brawl.
The TV video partly showed SWAT members kicking the student who was sprawled on the ground. One police officer hit Penini with the end of his Armalite rifle.
Earlier, Penini had struck a taxi driver on the face with a rock who was watching the earlier commotion.
Penini’s lawyer said the student already contacted his parents but hasn’t decided yet whether to return home.
He said his client won’t run away from charges against him. He said they will contact witnesses but have not closed doors to an option of setlement.
“Their (police) case is weak, it’s just disobedience and resisting arrest.” said Lastimosa.
He said the complaint filed with the CHR-7 is part of procedure that Penini needed to comply with since he is being monitored by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Penini himself didn’t issue a comment.
“He’s feeling good. He’s taking some medications,” his lawyer said.
The charges before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office were downgraded from an origial case of direct assault case filed by the police.
When CHR-7 investigator Primo Cadampog asked Penini how he was, the student said all he could remember was that he was kicked several times.
PO1 Labandero and PO1 Tanza were both relieved from their posts after the incident and reassigned to the Police Regional Office 7.
In a TV interview Senior Supt. Orlando Ualat, PRO-7 chief of staff, said Tanza and Lavandero admitted they got carried away in dealing with Penini, whom neighbors said would act unruly whenever he gets drunk.
Cadampog said the two policemen will face charges for violaiton of the Republic Act 9745 also known as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 and physical injuries.
In Sunday’s incident, Penini was allegedly running wild trying to find the drinking buddy who had beaten him up.
A Mobile Patrol Group said Penini was throwing stones at bystanders when they went to the area to intervene.
Senior Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, Cebu City police chief, said they will inhibit from the case.
The inquiry will be handled by thhe Regional Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB).
Buenafe yesterday visited the SWAT office and told his men not to allow the incident to discourage them from doing their job.
Buenafe also asked the public not to judge the police officers based on the ABS-CBN footage.
“This is one of the incidents that would serve as a lesson for us. We are taking this positively,” he said.