Habeas corpus writ sought for detained guard

Posted at 10/30/2012 3:27 PM | Updated as of 10/30/2012 7:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The common-law wife and sister of detained security guard Rolly Panesa filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday a petition for writ of habeas corpus to direct military and police personnel to produce his body, and immediately release him from detention.

Marites Chioco and Jiose Panesa told the high court that Panesa was illegally arrested, tortured and detained on Oct. 5 by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"He was tortured because the military mistook him for a certain 'Benjamin Mendoza,' supposedly the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Southern Luzon, with a reward of P5.6 million," petitioners said in a joint statement.

Named as respondents in the petition were Insp. Bernardino T. Camus, jail warden of the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail; Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Commanding General, AFP Southern Luzon Command (Solcom); Maj. Gen. Eduardo D. Del Rosario, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; P/CSupt. James Andres B. Melad, Regional Director, Philippine National Police Regional Office IV; and, P/SSupt. Manuel M. Abu, Chief of the Regional Intelligence Office of the PNP Regional Office IV.

Petitioners alleged that those "who arrested/abducted Panesa flagrantly violated his constitutional rights by their failure to explain to him the reason for his arrest, their failure to inform him of his constitutional rights and for their refusal to allow lawyers to confer with him on Oct. 6, 2012."

Human rights group Karapatan and the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) came to support petitioners.

"Panesa's illegal arrest, torture and continued illegal detention on the basis of trumped-up charges showcases the military's arbitrariness in the conduct of its counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, and the government's obsession to meet its self-imposed deadline to end the so-called insurgency," Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.

Chioco was also reportedly abducted and interrogated, and forced to admit that she was "Ka Luisa," wife of "Benjamin Mendoza." She was later released upon her insistence of her true identity.