DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 July) – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on July 12 issued an alert on the red-tagging of the NUJP Cagayan de Oro City chapter president and the columnist of Davao Today who was illegally arrested and detained last month for at least half a day.
The NUJP Western Mindanao Safety Office said a Facebook community page which calls itself “Quiet No More PH” accused NUJP Cagayan de Oro chapter chair Pamela Jay Orias and Davao Today columnist Margarita Valle as “supporters” and “protectors” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the party’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
The post, which carries photographs of both Valle and Orias, was uploaded at 12:44 a.m. on July 12. It alleged that the two are responsible for spreading propaganda against the government.
The post also names three other organizations aside from the NUJP–the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), the Association for Community Cooperation and Rural Development (ACCORD), and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP)– as ‘communist supporters and protectors.’
Orias has publicly spoken on press freedom issues in her capacity as local head of the NUJP.
Valle was arrested by a combined team of police and military on June 9, 2019 at Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental. The police later admitted that the arrest was a case of ‘mistaken identity.’
Valle on July 4 filed criminal and administrative charges against officers of the Philippine National Police led by PNP chief Oscar Albayalde, and the Philippine Army led by Brig. Gen. Jacinto Bareng, commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade. She filed before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices her complaint for alleged kidnapping and serious illegal detention; arbitrary detention; gross violations of Republic Act No. 9745, also known as the Anti-Torture act of 2009; gross violations of RA 7438 or rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation; and grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official.
RA 7438 provides, among others, that persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation “shall at all times be assisted by counsel; that the persons arresting or investigating shall inform the person of his/her rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to confer privately with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation.”
In the PNP, named respondents aside from Albayalde were Col. Bernard Banac, spokesperson; Col. Tom Yuzon, Director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 9; Col. Redentor Lantaca Retusto, Provincial Director of Zamboanga del Sur; Col. John Guyguyon, Deputy Regional Director for Operations of PNP Region 9; Mohdin Panturan, chief of the ProvincialIntelligence Branch of PNP Region 9; Lt. Col. Mardito Anguluan, Director of the Regional Mobile Forces Battalion; Capt. Mohammad Madzdie-Aziz Mukaram as leader of the CIDG Provincial Field Unit; the director of the PNP’s Aviation Security in Region 10; Police Chief of Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental: Col. Michael Pareja, PNP Iligan chief; and John Does and Jane Does who are members of the composite team that arrested Valle.
In the Army, also named respondent aside from Bareng was Lt. Col. Marlowe Patria, commander of the 53rd Infantry Battalion.
Valle was arrested at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental at around 10 a.m. on June 9 allegedly on the basis of two warrants of arrest, both of which Valle said she was not allowed to read.
“The NUJP has repeatedly rebuffed claims that it is a communist ‘front’ organization.
The NUJP is an organization of Filipino journalists and media workers established in 1986 to bat for the safety and welfare of all members of the Philippine press. It is also a strong advocate of press freedom and freedom of expression,” the NUJP alert said. (MindaNews)