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“Not one day more!” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, on the continued detention of Rolly Panesa, a security guard mistaken by the AFP to be a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Panesa has been in detention for 164 days since his arrest in October 2012.
“If the AFP won’t admit they were wrong in arresting, torturing and detaining Panesa, they will have to eat dust as we continue to prove that Panesa is not ‘Benjamin Mendoza’. Malinaw namang hindi siya si Mendoza. Pinaninindigan lang ng AFP ang pagkakamali nila. Panesa’s arresting unit and torturers will definitely answer for keeping him longer in jail and violating his rights,” Palabay added.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the AFP, asked the 5th Division of the Court of Appeals to subpoena the National Statistics Office, Social Security System, and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The said offices are asked to provide the court with official documents, from 2005 onwards, pertaining to the identity of Rolly Panesa.
“The AFP should have done this on Day 1 of Panesa’s arrest. This is obviously delaying tactics,” Palabay said. “The AFP could not even present in court Benjamin Mendoza’s dossier to prove that Mendoza and Panesa are one and the same person,” Palabay added.
During the hearing last March 15, Justice Rosmari Declaro Carandang asked the Sol Gen whether the requested documents from the said government agencies would finish the case, the OSG replied, “It depends, your honor.”
“This is outrageous,” said Palabay. “Panesa already submitted in court all his identification papers—SSS, 2010 NBI clearance, CAFGU certification, employment ID, and a lot more. The AFP is still asking for more documents which, to them, is not enough to convince them that he is NOT Mendoza. ”
Panesa was tortured by his military captors to pressure him to admit he is Mendoza. “We feel badly for the man, to say the least. But more important than what we feel for Rolly Panesa and his family is the injustice committed against him when he was arrested, tortured and detained.”
The said court scheduled the next hearing on a Holy Week, March 26, 2pm. “We should be doing this swiftly, because this man maybe wrongly arrested, and each day in jail is a violation,” Justice Carandang said at the end of the hearing.