It’s unfortunate enough that Margarita “Gingging” Valle, a journalist from Davao City became a victim of what the police nonchalantly called a case of “mistaken identity”. In a brazen show of ignorance of the law and disrespect of due process, operatives of the Criminal Intelligence and Detection Group-Region 9 snatched Valle at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental where she was supposed to fly home on June 9 to Davao after an engagement in Pagadian City.

Valle, an asthmatic and hypertensive 61-year-old, was dragged outside the airport without first verifying if she was indeed the person named in the arrest warrant. Besides, the police didn’t bother to observe other procedures such as allowing Valle to inform her family and lawyer about the situation so they may know where to follow her up.

No, it’s not because she’s a friend and a former colleague that I’m writing this. It’s because the transgression and betrayal by the arresting officers of their sworn duty to protect the rights of citizens was so glaring. They behaved as violators not as law enforcers. They took the law into their own hands like the death squads that have killed thousands of mostly poor suspects in the phony war on drugs.

One can only imagine the trauma that Valle, her family and friends went through during those several hours that police kept her incommunicado. Imagine how a senior citizen with a couple of ailments would cope with the physical and mental toll of such ordeal.

Fortunately, embarrassed perhaps by criticisms online, the police were forced to surface and release Valle. And here was PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde making light of the grave violation by saying “it happens”. His unspoken message is that the police personnel involved would not be held accountable for their misdeed. He wasn’t apologizing, he was defending the indefensible action of his subordinates.

That’s how thuggery in the uniformed services thrives. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews where H. Marcos C. Mordeno is one of the editors.)