A vindication of sorts but a travesty of justice nonetheless
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), counsel for security guard Rolly Panesa who who was tagged by the military as a supposed top-ranking rebel leader, welcomed with sigh of relief the 27 August 2013 decision of the Court of Appeals finally granting after several months the petition for the issuance of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Even as it comes belatedly, we commend the Decision for finally seeing through all the deliberate lies and clumsy fabrications of the military to justify the violation of his rights.
Rolly Panesa, an ordinary security guard for the longest time, was illegally arrested way back 5 October 2012 at a busy intersection in Quezon City, and detained by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police. He was severely tortured while the military cynically misidentified him for a certain “Benjamin Mendoza”, supposedly the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Southern Luzon, with a reward of PhP 5.6 million.
At the same time, the NUPL laments the long drawn-out and tedious legal proceedings that Panesa had to undergo just to simply prove that he is not what the military says he was and despite overwhelming evidence to establish his identity. This includes multiple official identification cards and records issued by government agencies themselves, on top of incotrovertible testimonial evidence, in stark contrast to the self-serving, contrived, and ludicrous accounts of spurious witnesses for the military a.k.a. roving rebel retrunees. It does not give comfort that the Office of the Solicitor General was, wittingly or unwittingly, a party all throughout to the perpetuation of this gross injustice.
The NUPL pointed out that the poor fellow had to endure almost 11 months in detention while awating his deserved vindication. If there is any classic example of justice delayed and justice denied, this no doubt fits the bill. Nothing indeed will bring him back all those times lost and the damage wrought on his reputation, not to mention the agony and ordeal he and his family went through.
The NUPL condemns the money-making scheme of the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government’s secret hit list as it is now again proven to be dubious. Previously, a certain Olegario Sebas of Negros Oriental who was similarly arrested for purportedly being another rebel leader, was also ordered released by virtue of a habeas corpus petition.
The payment by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of handsome reward money to supposed informers for the capture of what it refers to as “terrorist personalities and communist leaders” is farcical, withal dangerous. Thus, the DND-DILG’s secret hit list must be scrapped totally and immediately as it has become the basis to arrest, detain, and torture people on false charges; or worse, disappeared or killed. In addition, those who concocted this not so bright idea should also be held accountable for misusing the people’s money to violate people rights.
We shall suppport our client’s longstanding plan to file countercharges against those who have practically destroyed his life beyond `repair as impunity shall simply continue if there is no accountability.
Atty. Ephraim Cortez
Deputy Secretary General for Legal Services
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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