Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nr1107:Heads in PNP must roll over mistaken identity snafu

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. BeltranNews Release November 7, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602

931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff

Email: rep_crispin_beltran@yahoo.com.ph, anakpawis_partylist@yahoo.com

Celphone number 09213907362 Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Heads in the PNP must roll over case of mistaken identity; Gara extremely lucky reporter Arlyn de la Cruz knows the real Radulan Sahiron

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration major blunder in accusing and arresting a civilian on the charges of being an Abu Sayyaf commander and terrorist was not surprising but is still, however, a cause for alarm. He said that even without the anti-terrorism bill to give the armed authorities the legal basis to make arrests, the civil and democratic – as well as human- rights of countless civilians have already been undermined.

“Since the Macapagal-Arroyo administration began its so-called campaign against terrorism in obedience to the US government’s directives, countless civilians in Mindanao have been arrested and illegally detained in the various jails. The civil and democratic rights of civilians have been thrown out the window as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) go their rabid way implementing the anti-terrorism directives of the Arroyo government. None of the unjust arrested civilians have been given a fair trial, much less allowed to defend themselves in a public legal venue,” he pointed out.

“For the most part, the evidence the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other authorities can provide against the suspects are highly circumstantial. It’s not also an outrage that police authorities have also taken to making all Filipino Muslims targets of suspicion -- our Muslim brothers and sisters libeled and labeled terrorist supporters or even actual terrorists on the mere grounds that they’re Muslims.”

Beltran demanded that PNP Director Arturo Lomibao and the officers of the arresting unit that took charge of the case of mistaken identity should be sacked. The PNP arrested a civilian, 43-year old Arturo Gara after having mistaken him for being Abu Sayyaf chief of staff Radulan Sahiron. Beltran said that the PNP and the Macapagal-Arroyo should pay indemnification to Gara and his family for psychological trauma. “They arrested a civilian and kept him in custody for two days. A simple public apology will not suffice.”    

“They have been other documented instances wherein the PNP arrested civilians after wrongly tagging them as ASG members. Of the over 200 accused terrorists now languishing in jail, majority are Muslim civilians who come for the poor and working sectors. They have not been accorded legal assistance or allowed to post bail. It was sheer luck on the part of Gara that reported Arlyn de la Cruz was able to distinguish him from Sahiron. Otherwise, Gara most likely would’ve been thrown in jail without trial,” he said. Beltran said that a comprehensive review of the records of arrests the PNP has made connected to the anti-terror campaign should be immediately conduct. “Most likely, a review will reveal that majority if not all of the Filipinos and Muslims the PNP has arrested particularly in Mindanao are innocent.”

Go after the real terrorist-rapists

The activist lawmaker said that even as the PNP and the AFP go after civilians suspected of being terrorist, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has been walking around eggs when it comes to the issue of the six Marines accused of raping a 22-year old Filipina last week.

“Where are Macapagal-Arroyo’s strong words now? She and her government have been pussy-footing around this rape case in the last few days, and the family of the victim has been given neither legal assistance nor moral support. If there’s anyone the PNP and the AFP should hasten to arrest, it’s these six Marines. "This act of brutality against a Filipina is really reflective of US-RP relations -- a relationship of abuse, exploitation and injustice. If nothing comes out of the criminal case the victim filed, there will be hell to pay. If this doesn't strain US-RP relations to the breaking point, then it's hard to see what else will. Six Marines raped a Filipina - the very sentence is enough to fuel mass protests against US military presence and interference in the Philippines," he said.

He said that there were more than enough grounds to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and other military agreements with the US that allow US military presence in the Philippines. "The Balikatan exercises must be put to an end immediately," he said. "The six Marines must be surfaced and turned over to local police and military authorities. Philippine criminal laws must be upheld in this case, and the Marines should be investigated, tried and punished according to Philippine laws, and not those of the US," he said.#

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