DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Family members of 61-year-old veteran community journalist Margarita “Gingging” Valle said their mother was the “clear target” of the state forces, refusing to believe authorities’ claim that it was a case of mistaken identity.
Valle’s family issued a statement on Tuesday, June 11 following her release from the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Pagadian City after she was arrested from Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental last Sunday, and held incommunicado for hours.
“Gingging’s case is not one of mistaken identity at all. She was a clear state target. Mistaken identity is but a ludicrous propaganda of the PNP in the advent of the public outrage and pressure to surface and release our Nanay Gingging,” the family said
The family of Valle said that the ordeal of their mother was a clear example of attack of state forces against journalists, dissenters and human rights defenders.
They further slammed the authorities’ “wanton disregard” to the rule of law, said to be justified by the Martial Law in Mindanao.
“In violation of her fundamental rights, Gingging Valle was arrested and remained incommunicado for about eight (8) hours. She was not allowed to be assisted by counsel, to be appraised of the charges against her and to examine the purported warrant/s that was made the basis of her arrest,” the family said.
They said there was no “due regard and consideration” to the health condition of their 61-year-old mother, who suffered such “physical, emotional and psychological anguish.”
Meanwhile, they thanked all those who help them throughout the ordeal.
“No stones should be left unturned and the police officers involved should be held accountable for this heinous incident. We are carefully studying all possible remedies against those responsible for this incident,” the family said.
The CIDG on Monday had apologized to Valle after she was arrested during a joint PNP-AFP operation over the weekend.
Valle’s arrest was based on an alleged report that she was the same person as certain Elsa Renton, a suspected communist member wanted for multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder, damage to government property, and arson.
“Due to uncertainties and less than 100% assurance of your identity from our informant, we have brought you to CIDG Office, Pagadian City that caused you unnecessary anxiety. We do realize that we should have headed your call regarding your identity from the start and have released you at the airport,” CIDG Region 9 chief Colonel Tom Tuzon explained in a statement.
The official said that they are now investigating the possible lapses in the police operational procedures and of their personnel involved in the operation.
“The information came from a reliable source from our military counterparts but as investigators, we should have conducted validation prior to the arrest. With this mistaken identity, we are going to take steps to ensure that this situation does not repeat itself,” Tuzon said.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJP) has condemned what it called as Valle’s “abduction” the CIDG’s “violation of her basic rights.”
“How else do authorities explain why Ms. Valle was held incommunicado for hours even as the police issued a statement saying she was facing multiple crimes from a decade ago, only to admit they had the wrong person? This is the equivalent of ‘shoot now, ask questions later,’” the NUJP national directorate said in a statement released Monday.
The truth is, the NUJP said, Valle’s arrest could have had dire, even fatal, consequences.
“There is no lack of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to drive home this point,” the group said. — with reports from Jigger Jerusalem/davaotoday.com