Rolly Panesa’s kin file petition for habeas corpus before SC

Marites Chioco, common-law wife of tortured and detained security guard Rolly Panesa, and sister Jiose Panesa today filed before the Supreme Court a petition for habeas corpus directing the respondents to produce the body of Rolly Mira Panesa before the Supreme Court and to seek other remedies thereof, including his immediate release. Panesa’s kin are accompanied by counsel Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and Cristina Palabay of Karapatan. 

Rolly Panesa is detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail for rebellion and frustrated murder. Panesa was illegally 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. He was tortured because the military mistook him for a certain “Benjamin Mendoza,” supposedly the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Southern Luzon, with a reward of PhP 5.6 million. 

“Panesa’s illegal arrest, torture and continued illegal detention on the basis of trumped-up charges showcases the military’s arbitrariness in the conduct of its counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, and the government’s obsession to meet its self-imposed deadline to end the so-called insurgency,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.     

Chioco and Panesa, through their legal counsel, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) named the following as respondents to the petition: Inspector Bernardino Edgar T. Camus, jail warden of the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail; Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Commanding General of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM); Maj. Gen. Eduardo D. del Rosario, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; P/CSupt. James Andres B. Melad, Regional Director, Philippine National Police Regional Office IV; and, P/SSupt. Manuel M. Abu, Chief of the Regional Intelligence Office of the PNP Regional Office IV.

The petition said that those who “arrested/abducted Panesa flagrantly violated his constitutional rights by their failure to explain to him the reason for his arrest, their failure to inform him of his constitutional rights and for their refusal to allow lawyers to confer with him on October 6, 2012. He was also severely tortured.” Karapatan calls for the immediate release of Panesa as he cannot be detained on the basis of a Warrant of Arrest and a Commitment Order issued against “Benjamin Mendoza.” 

Chioco, one of the petitioners, was also abducted and interrogated for several hours and was also forced to admit that she was “Ka Luisa”, the wife of “Benjamin Mendoza.” She was released after interrogation, when she repeatedly asserted her identity.

“Let’s see what the Aquino government will do with this petition. This is another case where the relatives of a victim of human rights violation initiated the filing of a case in court to seek justice because the government failed, or refuses, to correct its own mistake. We would not want to hear the president again say that this is ‘mere propaganda’,” said Palabay.

Earlier press release on Rolly Panesa case and his photos may be viewed here.