Margarita Valle was arrested Sunday morning at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental while waiting for her flight home to Davao City
NUJP, Facebook
PNP frees Davao Today columnist, says arrest a case of ‘mistaken identity’
( - June 10, 2019 - 11:54am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has released veteran community journalist Margarita Valle, whose arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

Valle, 61, was released at 9:30 p.m. Sunday after the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Zamboanga Peninsula said a witness confirmed the Davao Today columnist was not the actual subject of the warrant.

Valle was arrested Sunday morning at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental while waiting for her flight home to Davao City based on arrest warrants for charges of multiple murder, quadruple frustrated murder and damage to government property.

In a press briefing Monday, Maj. Gen. Oscar Amador Corpus, CIDG chief, noted the incident was a “normal police procedure” but said the agency is investigating what happened.

“I have already directed the regional field unit chief in Region 9 to submit a complete report on how it began. It was an information, project referred to us by our [military] counterparts. All police units, including the CIDG, provided police assistance,” Corpus said in a mix of English and Filipino.

PNP: File a complaint

PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said the agency would assist Valle in filing a complaint if she felt violated while under custody.

“Kung meron siyang complaint, kung may viniolate sa SOP namin, we’ll not hesitate to file charges against our people,” Albayalde said.

(If she has complaints, if our SOP was violated, we’ll not hesitate to file charges against our people.)

He also noted that cases of mistaken identity in arrests are “very rare.”

“Our law enforcers di naman kilala ‘yung subjects. ‘Yung complainant ‘yung nakakikilala sa subject usually. Ito they base their actions on their informant kaya nangyari ‘yan,” Albayalde explained.

(Our law enforcers do not know the subjects, it’s the complainant who knows them usually. The police base their actions on the informant that’s why it happened.)

In a statement Monday, Davao Today said elements of CIDG took Valle “by force at Laguindingan Airport and held incommunicado.”

‘Shoot now, ask later’

Davao Today and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines stressed that cases of mistaken identity should not happen to anyone, noting the climate of impunity has worsened in the country.

“We firmly believe that individuals must not be subjects to mistaken identity. We have already seen and proven its dangers and perils, especially when the administration launched its ‘Oplan Tokhang,’” Davao Today said.

It added that the government must review its guideline on serving arrest warrant and searches to prevent such mistakes from happening to anyone.

For NUJP, the arrest of Valle was a “criminal abduction of a journalist.”

“How else do authorities explain why Ms. Valle was held incommunicado for hours even as the police issued a statement saying she was facing multiple crimes from decades ago, only to admit they had the wrong person? This is the equivalent of ‘shoot now, ask questions later,’” NUJP said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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