Davao death squad probe: Inmate files raps vs Nograles, De Lima
() - July 16, 2009 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines  – An inmate of the Panabo City jail has filed charges against Speaker Prospero Nograles, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chief Leila de Lima and six ranking police officials for allegedly taking him out of his detention cell without the necessary court order.

In an affidavit filed before the city prosecutor’s office in Panabo City, a certain Jonathan Balo said Panabo City police chief Serrano and policeman Rodney Mediqueso took him out of his cell even without a court order.

Balo, who is charged for two murders, including last year’s killing of a policeman in the Island Garden City of Samal, said he was hesitant to go with the police officers for fear that he might be summarily executed.

But Serrano reportedly assured him he would be brought to the Panabo police station to identify a suspect.

But upon reaching the police station, Balo said he was transferred to another vehicle and brought to another destination, which turned out to be the Laud quarry site in Barangay Ma-a here.

There, he said he was allegedly forced to admit that he was “Danny Balo,” which he denied.

Interrogation

Balo alleged that a certain Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo and Col. Liwag interrogated him at the quarry site, which was also a firing range, and was made to admit he was member of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Balo said he was quizzed about the quarry site’s owner, a certain Ben Laud, known as Tatay Ben, a former policeman.

Balo was brought to the Laud quarry site at a time when a CHR-led team was searching the area for the supposed remains of victims of the DDS, a vigilante group.

Nograles figured in the case, as Balo alleged that the driver of the vehicle that brought them to Davao City told him that the Speaker would take care of his pending case.

He alleged that a fellow inmate also convinced him to cooperate as Nograles would take care of them.

But Nograles vehemently denied the allegations, saying he had “no knowledge or any participation in that action.”

“The human rights commission is an independent constitutional body with enough power to pursue (its) objective. Accusing and including me is to say the least very stupid. We will get to the bottom of this as soon as possible. (It) looks like black propaganda because I have been out of the country all this time,” he said in a text message to The STAR.

‘Prepared script’

Nograles said Balo, in his affidavit, was more of a political spokesman reading a “prepared script” against him.

“He seems to speak like a member of a political party. He was reading a prepared script but a very bad one at that. But the bottom line is that those who financed the DDS and who protect them actually do not need a scriptwriter of a ‘spokesprisoner’ but they need good lawyers who can defend them from the evidence of human remains found in the Ma-a firing range with alleged government plate numbers in the mass grave,” he said.

“They must prove that alleged extra-judicial killings in Davao are not through the initiative of the government or sponsored by the government as alleged by an international human rights watch,” he added.

Aside from De Lima and Nograles, Balo also included as respondents SJO1 Mediqueso, Superintendents Serrano and Quinsay, Fajardo, Col. Liwag, three unidentified policemen and a civilian.

A press release sent from the e-mail address justice4adonis@yahoo.com to local journalists also recounted Balo’s alleged ordeal.

Balo recalled that while they were approaching Davao City, their vehicle was stopped thrice by elements of the Regional Mobile Group and each time, the police officers at the checkpoints would radio a certain Col. Quinsay about their arrival.

When they reached the quarry site, Balo said a slim man with moustache, who was wearing a hat and a red T-shirt, asked him if he was Danny Balo.

“I told him my name is Jonathan Balo and I do not know any Danny Balo,” he said in his affidavit.

Balo said his interrogator, whom he later identified as Fajardo, kept on insisting that he was Danny Balo and told him that the CHR had linked him to “salvagings (summary executions).”

He alleged that Fajardo told him that those helping him had abandoned him and that he was made a fall guy.

Saying he was in handcuffs throughout his ordeal, Balo further alleged that a fat man, who he later identified as Col. Liwag, ordered him to cooperate and pointed to the site where the “salvaging” victims were supposedly buried.

Liwag, according to Balo, made him sit in another chair and he was again interrogated by a thin man who introduced himself as coming from Camp Crame.

Balo said he was asked if he was familiar with the firing range, about his being an alleged member of the DDS and whether he knew a certain Tatay.

No knowledge

Balo recalled saying that he had no knowledge whatsoever of the DDS or any Tatay.

He, however, said he admitted that when he was working with a glass supply firm, a customer brought him once to the quarry site.

The interrogator from Camp Crame identified Tatay as Bienvenido Laud, owner of the firing range and quarry site.

During the interrogation, Balo said he was told that one Sonny Buenaventura, an alleged member of the DDS, is detained at Camp Crame.

He said he told his interrogators that the only time he met Buenaventura was in the sale of a parcel of land in Samal that he had brokered.

In his affidavit, Balo said his interrogators conferred with each other in his presence and that he heard them saying that they could not get any information from him.

Balo said he was finally returned to the Panabo City jail at around noon of July 6.   – With Edu Punay

ALLEGED BALO CAMP CRAME CITY DANNY BALO DAVAO CITY LIWAG PANABO CITY TATAY
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