DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 July) – Davao Today columnist Fidelina Margarita “Gingging” Valle who was arrested at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental on June 9 and held incommunicado for at least eight hours, has 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.
Valle filed before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices last Thursday her complaint against the officers for 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.
PNP spokesperson Banac, citing reports from the field said the warrants were for alleged “multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and damaget to government property” issued in Misamis Occidental by Judge Bernadette Pardes-Encinarea on December 29, 2011 “with no bail recommended” and arson issued by Judge Aniceto Galon, Jr. in Pagadian City on September 4, 2006 with bail recommended at 24,000 pesos.
The warrants were for “Elsa Renton @ Tina Maglaya / Fidelina Margaita Valle y Avellanosa.”
In her affidavit, Valle said that when she finally got copies of the warrants of arrest, “I noticed that my name was never mentioned in the warrants.”
Col. Bernard Banac, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police, sent a message to MindaNews at 8:17 p.m. on June 9 that Valle was “now for release.”
“After the coordination was made at AVSEC (Aviation Security) 10, Laguindingan Airport and Laguindingan MPS (municipal police station), Valle was “brought to CIDG 9 office (in Pagadian City) for verification and identification.”
“However, upon arrival of the witness who physically identified the subject, witness further averred that the suspect has major resemblance but is not the actual suspect who is the subject of the warrant.”
On June 10, CIDG Region 9 chief Tuzon issued a public apology addressed to Valle for the “wrongful arrest,” and offered his “sincerest apologies for the negative experience that you had with our CIDG personnel from Pagadian City at Laguindingan Airport.”
“Due to uncertainties and less than 100% assurance of your identity from our informant, we have brought you to the CIDG office, Pagadian City, that caused you unnecessary anxiety. We do realize that we should have heeded your call regarding your identity from the start and have released you at the airport,” Tuzon said.
He said the information came from a reliable source from their military counterparts but as investigators, “we should have conducted validation prior to the arrest.”
“As of this writing, we are investigating the recent police operation at Laguindingan Airport to identify lapses in our police operational procedures and in our personnel who were involved in the operation. Any misconduct related to your arrest will be dealt with accordingly,” Tuzon said.
RDC XI resolution: “hasten the investigation” on Valle’s arrest
In Davao City, the Regional Development Council (RDC) has transmitted copies of the resolution it passed on June 10, to the government agencies it urged to “hasten the investigation” on Valle’s arrest and to prevent similar incidents of ‘mistaken identity arrests’ in the Davao region.
The RDC during its meeting on June 10 passed Resolution No. 67 urging the PNP, the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights and other concerned agencies to “hasten the investigation on the arrest of Davao-based journalist, Fidelina Margarita Avellanosa-Valle, in Laguindingan Airport, Misamis Oriental, and to prevent incidents of ‘mistaken identity’ arrests in Davao Region.”
Patricia Sarenas, Private Sector Representative to the RDC XI, made the manifestation on Valle’s illegal arrest during the June 10 meeting, prompting the issuance of Resolution 67. (MindaNews)