Pimentel Urges Release of ‘Sagada 11’

BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat.com

The 11 punks accused of being members of the clandestine New People’s Army (NPA) and raiding a military detachment in Cabiten, Mankayan, Benguet have found an ally in Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who has urged law enforcement authorities to investigate their arrest and detention.

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The 11 punks accused of being members of the clandestine New People’s Army (NPA) and raiding a military detachment in Cabiten, Mankayan, this province have found an ally in Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who has urged law enforcement authorities to investigate their arrest and detention. He said that if the 11 punks arrested in Sagada, Mt. Province Feb. 14 and now known as the Sagada 11 are found to be fall guys, the authorities should “rectify their errors” by immediately releasing them.

The 11 punks filed a case March 31 at the Benguet Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against six members of the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Benguet for allegedly violating their rights their rights under Sec.2 of Republic Act No. 7438, which states that a person under custodial investigation should be informed of his rights and must be provided with competent and independent counsel. The punks said they were interrogated without counsel and tortured into admitting the crimes they were accused of.

The 11 punks are still detained at the provincial jail based on the case of robbery with homicide and arson filed against them by the PNP. The motion to quash filed by the punks’ lawyers is presently being processed at Branch 62 of the Benguet Regional Trial Court.

The six PNP officers charged with violating RA 7438 are: PSupt. Brent M. Madjaco; PSI Joseph Paulo Bayongasan; SPO1 Alyson Kalang-ad; P02 Jonathan Pucya; P02 Wendell B. Baglao’ and P02 James M. Ayan Jr.

As Sen. Pimentel was convinced the 11 were tortured, he requested PNP Director-General Arturo Lomibao to demand explanation from the provincial and regional PNP commands “on the incident and verify reports that the arrest was a mistake.” He further said that the torture and violations of their rights are not legally justified, and these show the PNP’s low regard on human rights.

Pimentel, as informed by Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Lawyer Manja Bayang, cited the torture that the punks were allegedly made to endure. “They were punched and kicked on different parts of their body, including their genitals; gravely threatened to be killed; ordered to kneel on the hot ground; drowned in water; suffocated in plastic bags; thrown in deep dug-outs; made to stand nude at nighttime while cold water was poured on them,” Pimentel elaborated.

A recent CHRA statement cited the 11 punks as hoping that through this (case) and their other efforts of gaining justice for brutality they suffered under the PNP, it would serve as a lesson for the PNP and other erring public officers to uphold and respect people’s rights.” Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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