Victim of manhandling by Marines worried over possible probe whitewash

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/1 Dec) – A polio victim who alleged he was manhandled by some elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 has sought the help of two Cotabato City-based press clubs in his quest for justice.

Complainant Christopher Ballares, 32, has expressed fears of a possible whitewash of the manhandling case and indiscriminate firing of guns by some Marines over a minor misunderstanding Monday night now being investigated by the police in Cotabato City.

Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, has assured the media community here through text message that he would order a thorough investigation of the case. “Definitely we will take action,” Guerrero said.

The incident, according to local officials in Cotabato City, stemmed from a shooting incident just a few meters away from a detachment of MBLT-7 at Barangay Bagua.

They said that responding Marines, some of them wearing short pants and reeking with smell of liquor, arrived at the scene and, without warning, vented on occupants of a house near the spot where someone was shot.

Witnesses said the Marine officer, who is now subject of the complaint, and his men forced the occupants of the house, among them Ballares and his uncle, Hector Cresensio, to help identify the gunman that shot a 15-year-old girl near the Marine detachment.

According to witnesses, the Marine officer and his men beat Balleres and Cresensio. Other Marines also fired their assault rifles while the officer and at least two subordinates took turns strangling and beating Ballares and Cresensio.

One Marine even reportedly shot a sodium lamp on a nearby post.

Meanwhile, the media in Cotabato City have since been flooded with appeals from various sectors for the immediate relief of the Marines involved in the incident. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)