Ex-rebel testifies in 'mistaken identity' case
Dennis Carcamo (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2013 - 1:17pm

MANILA, Philippines - A former communist rebel on Thursday testified in court that the security guard arrested by the military last year is a high-ranking member of the New People's Army named Benjamin Mendoza.

Luis Rayos, 40, identified Mendoza during the writ of habeas corpus hearing at the Court of Appeals.

Rights group Karapatan is claiming that the person arrested by the military was a security guard identifiedas Ronaldo Panesa and that he was just a victim of mistaken identity.

During the cross examination, Rayos claimed to have worked with Mendoza for three years, from 2003 to 2005. He said that during those three years, he was meeting with Mendoza once a month to get his NPA unit's monthly budget.

During the same years, Panesa was working as a security guard at the Megaforce Security Co.

Panesa, through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, earlier presented in court the documentary evidence such as Social Security System contributions and employment pay slips to support his claim that he is not “Benjamin Mendoza.”

Rayos, at one point in the cross examination, said yes it was Mendoza who is in the picture but after several questions, he retracted and said that the Mendoza he saw did not have a swollen and bruised face.

"Galos lang ang nasa mukha niya," Rayos was quoted as saying during the court proceedings.

For its part, members of Karapatan who attended the hearing said Rayos should be charged with perjury for lying under oath.

"His statements were inconsistent and did nothing to prove that security guard Panesa is “Mendoza”. All he did was to point his finger to Panesa, the lone person in the court who was wearing a BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) prison shirt," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay added.

The Office of the Solicitor General, through Atty. Sarah Jane Fernandez, was unable to present its second and third witness.

"It is ridiculous that after 10 hearings the identity of the AFP’s third witness is unknown even to the OSG and the CA Justices. The AFP comes up with every excuse and lie to delay the proceedings," Palabay said.

Karapatan said Panesa was taken together with his wife and step daughter on Oct. 7, 2012 in Quezon City under the arrest warrant for Benjamin Mendoza.

Panesa was tortured and made to confess that he is Mendoza, the group said.

Panesa is now detained in Special Intensive Care Area of the Bicutan Jail.

BENJAMIN MENDOZA BUREAU OF JAIL MANAGEMENT AND PENOLOGY COURT OF APPEALS CRISTINA PALABAY KARAPATAN LUIS RAYOS MEGAFORCE SECURITY CO MENDOZA NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLES PANESA RAYOS
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