Victim of mistaken identity Rolly Panesa fights back through a criminal case of torture against abductors, torturers

"Hindi pwedeng tanggapin ko lang kung anong nangyari sa akin. Kailangang lumaban ako para makuha ang hustisya para sa akin at para sa ibang nakulong at natorture nang walang kasalanan katulad ko, (I will not just accept what has happened to me. I am fighting back to get justice for me and for others who were tortured and jailed innocent like me)," security guard Rolly Panesa said, as he filed criminal cases at the Department of Justice against several soldiers and police involved in his torture, arbitrary arrest and detention . 

Together with his counsels from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) and Karapatan, Panesa filed complaints of Violation of Anti-Torture Act of 2009, Unlawful Arrest, Incriminatory Machination and Perjury. 
 
Respondents to Panesa's complaint on the violation of Anti-Torture Law, and unlawful arrest are Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, former Commanding Officer (CO) of Southern Luzon Command of AFP, Maj. Gen. Eduardo Del Rosario, CO of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, P/Csupt. James Andres B. Melad, former Regional Director of the Philippine National Police Regional Office IV, P/SSUPT. Manuel M. Abu, Chief of Regional Intelligence Office of PNP Regional Office IV, P/CINSP. Reynaldo Mendoza of the Regional Intelligence Office of PNP Regional Office IV, P/Ins. Bonifacio L. Guevarra, SPO1 Cristopher E. Flores, PO2 Ariel dela Cruz, PO2 Joseph M. Fernandez, POI Ellior de Lima. 
 
Charged with Perjury are Col. Generoso Bolina, spokesperson of Southern Luzon Command, Luis Grajo Rayos and Micheal Rojo Alvarado and Erwin Rosales all rebel returnees.

Panesa was arrested on October 5, 2012, tortured and detained for 11 months because he was wrongfully tagged as Benjamin Mendoza, an alleged high ranking regional officer of the New People's Army.  Last month, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista gave the P5.6 million reward to the informant who “identified” Panesa as “Benjamin Mendoza.” On August 29, the Court of Appeals (CA) ruled positively on Panesa’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, citing his case as a case of mistaken identity, and ordered the jail warden of Camp Bagong Diwa to release him from prison. 

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said that the CA has effectively questioned all the testimonies of the “confidential witnesses” presented by the military, citing also the inconsistencies in the statements of military officials who spoke on the arrest of Benjamin Mendoza. 
 
"Nakilala ko sa kulungan ang maraming katulad ko na nakulong na wala namang kasalanan, katulad ng mga simpleng mag-uuling na napagkamalang NPA at hanggang ngayon ay nakakulong pa rin (During detention, I met several people who like me are jailed but innocent of crimes charged to them - like that of charcoal makers suspected to be NPAs who are still languishing in jail)," Panesa said. He was detained in Camp Bagong Diwa for almost 11 months where he met other political detainees facing trumped up charges. "Walang perang ipangbabayad kaming mga mahihirap para makuha ang katarungan. Ito lang ang magagawa namin - ang lumaban (Poor people like us do not have money to buy our way to justice. This is our only option, to fight)," he added. 
 
"While Janet Napoles has a food taster assigned for her, Panesa and other detainees had to make do with food rations that are almost inedible," Palabay said, underscoring the double standard used by the Aquino government in treating Napoles compared to the conditions of political prisoners, like Panesa, and common offenders.  
 
"There really are crooks in the government who think they are above the law, like Atty. Alex Alberto Popanes of the Philippine Army Judge Advocate General's Office (PA-JAGO), who, even with the Court of Appeals' (CA) decision to release Panesa, tried to delay latter's release by arrogantly pressuring the jail warden and officials of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). “Popanes is clearly mocking the CA," Palabay said further. Atty. Alex Alberto Popanes is being charged of incriminatory machination. 
 
Karapatan called on the Department of Justice to immediately act on Panesa’s complaint.