Charge and jail AFP Chief of Staff, military officials for illegal arrest and torture of security guard Panesa

Karapatan said the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be made accountable for the rights violations against security guard Rolly Panesa, with the recent Court of Appeals decision granting his petition for writ of habeas corpus and ordering his release from jail after 10 months and 24 days in detention.

“AFP Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista, Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga and all military and police officials involved in the illegal arrest, torture and detention of Panesa should be charged with violations of the Anti-Torture Law and Republic Act 7438 or the Rights of the Arrested or Detained Persons,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

In October 5, 2012, Panesa, together with his common-law wife and two other companions, were arrested by elements of the AFP and PNP in Quezon City and taken to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna where he was tortured and accused by the AFP as “Benjamin Mendoza,” a ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army. Military spokespersons and Bautista issued statements justifying the arrest and detention of Panesa.

In October 28, 2012, a petition for the writ of habeas corpus was filed at the Supreme Court. Karapatan has been providing paralegal assistance for Panesa and his family. 

Palabay welcomed the said decision saying that “the CA ruling affirmed our position that Panesa’s illegal arrest is a case of mistaken identity; a proof that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) practices illegal arrest, filing of trumped-up charges, torture and illegal detention against activists and ordinary individuals; and that the AFP twisted this case for a P5.6million racket, packaged as reward, at the expense of Panesa’s rights.”

Karapatan said Panesa should immediately be released from the Security Intensive Care Area of the Metro Manila District Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, where he is still detained. 

In November 2012, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of National Defense (DND) released a joint memorandum #2012-14 with a list of 235 so-called wanted communists, allocating P466.88 million for monetary rewards. According to the DILG and the DND, the list included a certain “Benjamin Mendoza.”  Two weeks ago, AFP Chief of Staff Bautista handed over the P5.6M reward to the “informant” who was responsible for the “neutralization” of “Mendoza”.

“The said list, which is kept confidential by the DND and the DILG, is nothing but a hitlist of persons who may suffer the same fate as Panesa, or they may end up killed or disappeared. The reward is also a moneymaking scheme by the AFP because the funds are arbitrarily handed over to so-called military assets,” Palabay said.€