SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
On October 6th security guard Rolly M. Panesa, his wife Maritez Chioco, their son Conierey, and daughter-in-law were arrested by and imprisoned by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a case of mistaken identity. It was originally being reported by the AFP and NDFP that the man arrested was NDFP consultant Benjamin Mendoza but it was quickly learned by human rights organizers on the ground (and soon confirmed by the NDFP) that the man arrested was not Mendoza but an innocent civilian in no way connected to the NDFP or NPA as claimed by the AFP.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that Panesa is indeed not Mendoza the AFP has refused to release him (they have released his family) and was even implicit in outright torture against him. Karapatan came out with this report:
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.”
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.
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.
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.