Veteran columnist Margarita Valle pictured at a press conference in Quezon City on June 12, 2019.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
'Mistakenly' arrested columnist Valle mulling raps vs cops
( - June 12, 2019 - 2:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Davao Today columnist Margarita “Gingging” Valle, who was detained due to “mistaken identity,” will file a complaint against the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Valle and other journalists condemned the arrest of the columnist last weekend at Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.

Police said they mistook Valle for Elsa Renton, who has standing warrants for a string of cases, but the journalist’s family believes it was an example of an attack against human rights defenders and journalists.

Lawyer Katherine Panguban, of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said they would file a complaint against the arresting cops.

“We are looking at the possibility of filing criminal and administrative charges to give a lesson to our cops that we will not allow them to play as kings,” Panguban said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The lawyer also said the incident was a “brazen attack, utter disregard on human rights.”

Panguban said they are looking into filing a complaint of arbitrary detention as all the elements of the crime are present in the case.

Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code defines arbitrary detention as “any public officer or employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person.”

Police accountability

Valle’s son Rius, who is also the spokesperson of Save our Schools Network, said his mother was not “mistakenly” arrested at all.

“She was a clear state target. Mistaken identity is but a ludicrous propaganda of the Philippine National Police in the advent of the public outrage and pressure to surface and release our Nanay Gingging,” Rius said.

He added, in a statement released Tuesday, that their family is studying remedies against those responsible for the incident.

“No stones should be left unturned and the police officers involved should be held accountable for this heinous incident,” he said.

PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said if Valle has complaints or feels the police did not follow the procedure in her arrest, “we’ll not hesitate to file charges against our people.”

READ: CIDG apologizes to columnist over wrongful arrest

The Commission on Human Rights has dispatched a quick response team to investigate and monitor the case.

Lawyer Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, also said: “Carrying out arrests must be done with utmost due diligence. The slightest mistake impacts the fundamental rights of the arrested person.” — Kristine Joy Patag

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