Security guard Rolly Panesa asks to defer arraignment–Karapatan

ROLLY Panesa, the security guard whom the AFP mistook as a top-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is set to be arraigned today at the Taguig RTC Branch 266 for charges of rebellion, murder and frustrated murder.

“Panesa will face the court oblivious of the charges against him because the case is meant for a certain Benjamin Mendoza, whom the military insists up to now as the same person as Panesa. This tragicomedy on the life of Panesa should immediately end. We demand that he Panesa be released now,” said Cristina Palabay, general secretary of Karapatan.

Panesa’s legal counsel from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers will seek the deferment of his arraignment citing the Writ of Habeas Corpus issued by the Supreme Court on November 4 in favor of Panesa. The Supreme Court decision directed the respondents “to personally appear and produce the person of Rolly Panesa before the assigned Justice of the Court of Appeals.”

Meanwhile, counsels for political prisoners and NDFP peace consultants Tirso Alcantara and Alan Jasminez will also move for the deferment of the arraignment to consolidate a number of crimes charged against them to rebellion.

SELDA secretary general, Angie Ipong, also called on the AFP to “stop its delaying tactics and immediately implement the order of the Gumaca RTC to transfer Alcantara from the AFP barracks in Fort Bonifacio to a civilian detention facility at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame,” adding that it has been six months since the Court issued the order on May 9.

“The AFP should stop the torture and ill-treatment of Alcantara. He has been in solitary confinement for almost two years now. The court had acknowledged that Alcantara’s security and health are threatened inside the military detention facility,“ said Ipong.  The Gumaca RTC said that Alcantara “suffered inhuman treatment and unreasonable restrictions/impositions on his rights in the hands of his military custodians.”

Alcantara and Jazmines are covered by the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), a signed agreement between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines as part of the peace negotiations. SELDA reiterated its call for a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty for all political prisoners, saying it is the most speedy way of releasing the political prisoners, “if only the president has the will to do it.”

Palabay for her part said that while Karapatan welcomes the recent SC decision on Panesa, “nothing could be more judicious and just than releasing Panesa.” Panesa’s case she said is “a testimony of the AFP’s desperate act to battle insurgency, which, in fact, victimizes ordinary citizens.”

Named respondents to the petition for a writ of habeas corpus on Panesa are: 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.

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