NY Rights Group Condemns Wrongful Arrest, Illegal Detention and Torture of Innocent Civilian
New York, NY–The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) expresses deep concern over the wrongful arrest of Rolly Panesa for allegedly being a high-ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Panesa, a security guard for Megaforce Security, was abducted, tortured, and illegally arrested on October 5 by the combined forces of the Philippine National Police and the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
NYCHRP condemns the illegal detainment and torture of Panesa under the hands of the military and demands his immediate release. “We believe that Panesa is innocent, and that the military has the wrong person in custody,” said Yoko Liriano, NYCHRP’s Director of Public Programs.
Based on the report and findings of Karapatan, a human rights group in the Philippines, the military’s initial target was a certain Benjamin Mendoza, who is at least thirteen years older than Panesa. Mendoza was said to have been a native of La Union province, yet Panesa hailed from Cadiz City, Negros Occidental in the Visayan region of the Philippines.
“Acts like this by the Philippine Government reveals the true nature of the deceptive Oplan Bayanihan,” Liriano commented. She went on, “The wrongful arrest of Panesa clearly shows that injustice such as illegal arrest and detention of civilians under the Aquino regime continues.”
Liriano further stated such tactics are reminiscent of the former President Gloria Arroyo’s deadly Oplan Bantay Laya, which had been the root of the height of human rights violations since the Dictator Marcos’ era. The Anti-Torture Bill of the Philippines was passed in 2009 due to the 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings, 206 victims of enforced disappearances, 2,059 victims of illegal arrests and 1,099 victims of torture under the Arroyo regime. However, Oplan Bayanihan, the so-called ‘people-oriented, pro-human rights and pro-peace and development’ plan, has been the auspices under which 76 victims of extrajudicial killings, 9 victims of enforced disappearances and 70 cases of torture have been committed against the Filipino people, including the case of Panesa’s abduction, torture, and illegal arrest.
“The narrative of Rolly Panesa’s case should be proof enough as to the illegal method of his arrest.” According to Karapatan, as Rolly and his live-in partner, Marites walked along Aurora Boulevard, in front of a convenient store, at least four men in plainclothes seized them. Marites saw a man grab Rolly by the neck which forced him to the ground, while others grabbed Marites, her daughter and son-in-law, and forced them into a gray van while Rolly was forced into another vehicle.
During the press conference, Karapatan presented photos with clear signs of torture and abuse after an interview with Panesa. It was reported that the victim was handcuffed and blindfolded from the time of his arrest until October 8. Several external injuries, such as abrasions and multiple contusions, were found on his wrists, head, face and neck. A possible eye and ear injury were confirmed through the report of Senior Inspector Jo Collo of the Regional Crime Laboratory of the Calabarzon Police.
“We call for Panesa’s immediate release” Liriano pleaded. “All charges against him must be dropped and we demand for the Philippine Government to stop the illegal use of torture and scrap Oplan Bayanihan!” she ended. ###