DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday (Nov 20) expressed dismay that the Philippine National Police has done no action to rectify its supposed mistake over the arrest of veteran journalist Margarita Valle.
It has been more than five months since Valle was arrested by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-9) at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental on June 9.
She was arrested supposedly based on arrest warrants for charges of “multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder”, destruction of government property, and arson.
The police later released Valle from detention and issued an apology, saying she was only “mistaken” to be a suspected communist rebel, who’s the subject of the warrant.
“This raises doubts on the justification of the ‘mistaken’ arrest considering the current climate of impunity and the unceasing complaints of harassment and red-tagging. Given her background as a development worker and a journalist who is strongly vocal on the cause of the Indigenous Peoples, Valle’s case merit deeper investigation and proactive actions,” CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.
The CHR said that such grave blunder on the part of the authority “must not be taken lightly.”
“The internal psychological and mental impact of the arrest continue to haunt Valle. It cannot be overemphasized that utmost due diligence is required in carrying out arrests,” de Guia said. “Hence, infractions must be dealt with accordingly by those who have the authority to reprimand or sanction to uphold the standards and integrity required of the institution that is expected to protect the people.”
Valle and her legal counsel from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) have already filed criminal and administrative charges against police and military officers before the Office of the Ombudsman on July 4.
The CHR said they will monitor for a just resolution to the case Valle filed before the Ombudsman.
They also included Valle’s ordeal in its national inquiry on the situation of human rights defenders in the Philippines.(davaotoday.com)