DOJ clears AFP, PNP execs in torture case
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has cleared four high-ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the alleged illegal arrest and torture of Rolly Panesa, a security guard mistakenly identified as communist leader Benjamin Mendoza by authorities in 2012.

In a resolution, investigating prosecutors dismissed the criminal charges filed by Panesa in September 2013 against former AFP Southern Luzon commanding officer Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Army 2nd Infantry Division commanding officer Maj. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario, former PNP Region 4 director Chief Superintendent James Andres Melad and PNP Region 4 intelligence office chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Abu.

The DOJ concluded after preliminary investigation that there is no probable cause in the complaint for violations of Republic Act 9745 (Anti-Torture Act) and RA 7438 (a law that defines the rights of arrested persons) and unlawful arrest, incriminatory machination and perjury. 

It stressed that Panesa failed to prove the officials’ specific, respective participations in the alleged offenses.

The DOJ has also absolved lawyer Alex Alberto Popanes of the Judge Advocate General Office in the separate charge of incriminatory machination as well as Col. Generoso Bolina and military “witnesses” Luis Grajo Rayos, Michael Rojo Alvarado and Erwin Rosales for perjury.

4 cops indicted

The fiscals, however, approved the indictment of Inspector Bonifacio Guevarra, Senior Police Officer 1 Christopher Flores, Police Officers 2 Ariel dela Cruz and Joseph Fernandez for less serious physical injuries, violations of Section 4b (mental and psychological torture) of RA 9745 and RA 7438 and grave coercion.

The DOJ, however, dismissed the allegations of physical torture against all respondents.

The DOJ stressed that while there is violation of the anti-torture law by the authorities, there was no physical torture as defined under the law. The injuries sustained by Panesa were merely “superficial much less not severe,” according to the resolution. 

Probers also said they were “not persuaded that there is mental torture at the time of arrest because complainant could not accurately recount what happened after his arrest” in Quezon City on Oct. 5, 2012. 

Panesa appealed the DOJ resolution and filed a petition for partial review, insisting on his allegations against the AFP and PNP officials. 

Panesa filed the complaint after the ruling of the Court of Appeals ordering the AFP and PNP to release him from detention. 

The AFP even awarded P5.6 million in reward money to an informant for the capture of Panesa. Despite the CA findings that it was a case of mistaken identity, the military stood by its claim that Panesa and Mendoza are the same person.

Last January, the CA granted the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Panesa and ruled that he is not “Benjamin Mendoza.” The AFP, however, appealed the ruling.

 

ALAN LUGA ALEX ALBERTO POPANES OF THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OFFICE ANTI-TORTURE ACT ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BENJAMIN MENDOZA CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT JAMES ANDRES MELAD CHRISTOPHER FLORES COURT OF APPEALS CRUZ AND JOSEPH FERNANDEZ PANESA
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with