By National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
The payment by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of reward money to supposed informers allegedly responsible for the capture of what it referred to as “terrorist personalities and communist leaders” is ludicrous as it is dangerous. The reward was paid pursuant to Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government Joint Order No. 14-2012 which updated the AFP’s bounty list.
Earlier on, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers publicly questioned the propriety and legality of the joint order, since it violates the basic principles of fairness and due process. The payment – – or some observers say the division of the spoils or loot? – – is further put into doubt in the light of nagging questions as regards the identities of those they paraded as alleged “communist leaders”. Rolly Mira Panesa, a security guard for the longest time, was abducted in a busy street in Quezon City, heavily tortured and now still detained for 10 months based on the AFP’s claim that he is “Danilo Benjamin Mendoza” an alleged high ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Southern Tagalog with a Php 5.6 Million bounty.
The AFP chose to shamelessly rely on the perjured statements of their own professional itinerant jokes they call witnesses, and deliberately ignored the overwhelming testimonial and multiple documentary evidence, most of which were issued by government agencies themselves confirming what the AFP knew all along, that he is not Danilo Benjamin Mendoza.
Oligario Sebas, a resident of Negros Oriental, suffered the same fate. He was abducted and detained based on the AFP claim that he is “Felimon Mendrez” an alleged high ranking member of the CPP in Negros with a Php 5.2 Million bounty. Sebas, unlike Panesa, was subsequently released through a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus where it was quickly established that he is not “Felimon Mendrez”.
Panesa and Sebas join other detainees who have been arrested and detained based on trumped up charges, their number having increased upon the public announcement of the existence of the joint order. Their cases confirmed NUPL’s fear that the list will only be used to harass political activists, leaders of peoples organizations and even ordinary citizens who have the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and who can be exploited as unwitting sources of huge incomes. Even bona fide assistance by human rights groups and rights lawyers organizations like NUPL regrettably is being used to discriminate and maliciously profile these victims and hence lead to plain injustice.
This cheap publicity stunt by the AFP is a conspicuous badge that they are resorting to this kind of tactic to give pretense to their false claims and justify the of arrest of innocent citizens without due regard to their rights to due process. These betray their utter disregard for the legal and constitutional rights of the citizenry, and the propensity to violate human rights without any iot of compunction.
Is there, pray tell, still any shred of decency, conscience or humanity left for all those who made and continue to make possible this kind of gross and wholesale injustice?
Edre U. Olalia