Mistaken identity, illegal arrest, torture and illegal detention
Rolly Panesa's case typifies Aquino govt's human rights violations
Rolly Panesa, a security guard of the Megaforce Security, was arrested on October 5 by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police. Panesa was mistaken for “Benjamin Mendoza”, whom the military alleged as a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with a bounty of P5.6M.
Panesa recalled that he was interrogated, tortured and forced to admit that he was “Benjamin Mendoza.” Every time he stood by his real identity, he would get a beating. According to his interrogators, a mole on Panesa’s nape proves that he is “Benjamin Mendoza.”
“Panesa’s case illustrates the Aquino government’s blatant and continuing violation of the Anti-Torture Act and Republic Act 7438 on the rights of arrested or detained persons, among other rights violations. He was wrongfully accused and heaped with fabricated charges based on a mistaken identity. Panesa was subjected to repeated interrogation and beatings, and denied of his right to counsel and immediate and appropriate medical treatment, for the hefty sum of P5.6M, and in pursuance of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Based on news reports, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) heralded the capture of the 48 year-old Rolly Panesa whom the military claim as the “61 year-old Benjamin Mendoza, secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Southern Luzon.”
Rolly Panesa was with his live-in partner Maritess Chioco, Maritess’ daughter Connie Rey and her husband Peter Que when they were accosted and forced into a vehicle. Panesa’s companions were released, while Panesa is now detained at the SICA (Special Intensive Care Area)-Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. He is charged with rebellion, with National Democratic Front consultants Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara and Allan Jazmines. He is also accused of frustrated murder.
Panesa said that the beatings started when he was in the car; and went on in the places where he was brought. He eventually knew that he was brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna, where he was subjected to further beatings. Panesa also remembered that he was injected with a drug on both arms, supposedly for asthma. Panesa however, said he has no asthma.
“Torture, illegal arrests and detention are nothing new in the conduct of Oplan Bayanihan, the military’s counterinsurgency program, under the Noynoy Aquino government. From July 2010 to September 30, 2012, Karapatan has documented 70 victims of torture and 447 victims of illegal arrests. The arbitrariness of all these acts shows how the military plays with people’s rights and lives and its desperation to quash the revolutionary movement,” added Palabay.
Palabay said that, “the military is like a dog gone mad, biting anyone that comes its way.” Palabay cited some of the military’s booboos that border on the ridiculous, in Panesa’s case:
- The military said “Benjamin Mendoza” is a “native of La Union Province” while Rolly Panesa was born and raised in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
- While the military claims that “Benjamin Mendoza” was already a leader of the Samahan ng mga Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK) in 1975, Panesa was only 11 years old, studying at the Macabal-ong (now Martina Quiachon) Elementary School in Cadiz City.
- While “Benjamin Mendoza” studied “Commando Operation, Heavy Weapon Operation, bomb making and sniping” in Libya in 1981-1982; Panesa was in Cadiz City and was, on and off, enrolled in Faron Institute as a high school student, while helping his parents do farm work.
Panesa left Cadiz City in 1987 to look for work in Metro Manila and was employed since 1988 up to the present in various security service agencies.
Karapatan calls for the immediate release of Panesa and the withdrawal of all trumped up charges against him, as they also condemned the spurious charges against Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara and all his co-accused in the rebellion and frustrated murder cases.
“Justice should be rendered to Panesa and his family, for all the grave violations on their rights. In fact, regardless of identities of persons, including “Benjamin Mendoza”, no one should be subjected to such deplorable and gross violations of human rights,” Palabay concluded. Presscon photo by Lito Ocampo