Lester has repeatedly said he could not identify the perpetrators since it was very dark when the incident took place. The police kept on hounding the child, to force upon him the “distorted narrative of the PNP [Philippine National Police] and the military.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The mother of a 14-year-old survivor in the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay, Negros Occidental filed criminal charges against the local police and her ex-partner with the Department of Justice, Dec. 4.
Lorna (real name withheld due to confidentiality under the law) filed charges of child abuse under Republic Act 7610 or Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act against Sagay City police chief Robert Mansueto and city police officers Julie Ann Diaz and Christine Magpusaw.
The mother’s lawyer Katherine Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said the Sagay police also violated the Supreme Court’s rule on examination of child witnesses. Panguban said the Sagay police took the child’s testimony without the presence of a person the child trusts.
In her complaint-affidavit, Lorna accused her former partner Vic Pedaso of violating Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act.
Panguban said Pedaso has been forcing his son Lester (real name withheld due to confidentiality under the law) to go back to the police and point to the New People’s Army (NPA) as the culprit behind the October 20 massacre.
Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, earlier claimed that “the child can identify the NPA guerrillas who are perpetrators of the crime.”
Panguban said Lester has repeatedly said he could not identify the perpetrators since it was very dark when the incident took place. Panguban said the police kept on hounding the child, to force upon him the “distorted narrative of the PNP [Philippine National Police] and the military.”
Earlier, Pedaso filed charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against Panguban and Karapatan-Negros.
Lorna herself had earlier debunked Pedaso’s claims. The custody of the child was turned over to the mother with the assistance of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Karapatan on October 25 by the Sagay City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), in the presence of the child’s father himself.
Panguban said Pedaso has not seen his son for ten years. Panguban said that under the law, when the father and mother of a child are not married, the mother takes custody of the child.
Josa Deinla, also of the NUPL, said the charges against Panguban are merely fabricated and meant to pressure lawyers and human rights defenders helping Lorna and Lester. Deinla welcomed the inhibition of the Sagay prosecutor’s office from the case.