‘No case of mistaken identity in communist leader’s arrest’
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The military maintains that the arrest of Benjamin Mendoza, who it claimed to be a communist rebel, in October last year was not a case of mistaken identity.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said Mendoza and Rolly Panesa, who introduced himself as a security guard, are the same person.

The military claims that Mendoza is the secretary of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee and that Rolly Panesa was just his alias.

“We are very firm that Rolly Panesa and Benjamin Mendoza are one and the same person based on facts and witnesses,” Zagala said.

Zagala was reacting to a Court of Appeals ruling that granted Mendoza’s petition for writ of habeas corpus and ordered his release from jail.

The government is planning to appeal the court’s decision, which has triggered anti-military sentiments from activists who claim to be human rights advocates.

“Our solicitor-general, who is handling the case for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), is already making appropriate motions following the Court of Appeals decision to release Benjamin Mendoza,” Zagala said.

Mendoza and three others were arrested on Oct. 6 last year by government security forces along Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City.

Military officials claimed that Mendoza was behind several violent attacks in Southern Luzon. Militant groups, however, said he is just a security guard and that his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

The AFP even gave a P5.6-million reward to the tipster who provided information that led to Mendoza’s arrest.

Karapatan, a group that claims to advocate human rights, scored the military for offering a bounty for Mendoza.

“The AFP twisted this case for a P5.6-million racket, packaged as reward, at the expense of Panesa’s rights,” Karapatan said in a statement, adding that he should immediately be released from Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City where he is detained.

The group said the CA ruling is proof that the military “practices illegal arrest, filing of trumped-up charges, torture and illegal detention against activists and ordinary individuals.”

Zagala, however, said, “The basis for the capture of Benjamin Mendoza came from legitimate intelligence information that warranted the release of the P5.6-million reward money.”

 

ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES AURORA BOULEVARD BENJAMIN MENDOZA CAMP BAGONG DIWA COURT OF APPEALS KARAPATAN MENDOZA MENDOZA AND ROLLY PANESA ZAGALA
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