“What they did made me like a criminal. They took my mugshot, my fingerprint…I could not just let it be,” — Margarita Valle
By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — Margarita “Gingging” Valle, a brave veteran journalist who has consistently called out the government for all its blunders, was still visibly shaken as she told colleagues her 12-hour detention in a press conference held this morning, June 12 at Kamuning, Quezon City.
Starting off lightly, Valle narrated that she was ordering for food early morning on June 9 when she was nabbed by the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group in Laguindingan Airport, Cagayan de Oro.
“But instead of food being served, what I was served with was a warrant of arrest,” said Valle and then jokingly added, “I told them (CIDG), I did not order for that!”
Seven or eight medium-built men in civilian clothing arrived, serving her the warrant of arrest issued against Elsa Renton alias Tina Maglaya and Fidelina Margarita Valle for arson and multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and damage to government property.
Valle said that she was more bewildered than scared at first, but when the men had gone to her and said that they were serving the warrant of arrest for her, that’s when the apprehension started kicking in. “The information did not register instantly in my head, all I could think of was ‘why a warrant of arrest? What crime did I commit?’”
When she asked the men to show her the warrant of arrest to read, they had refused but only showed the warrant fast enough for Valle to know that it was indeed a warrant, but not long enough for her to see the name written on the warrant.
“And then they told me that we needed to go to the police station for questioning,” Valle said. She then refused and said that she would not go with them because she did not know who they were and she did not have any lawyer with her at that moment.
But the men insisted to go to the station and told her she could wait for her counsel there and clear her name. Valle still refused and demanded to call for her lawyer which the men allowed on the condition that she does the call inside the airport’s security.
By 6 p.m., Valle managed to contact one of her friends, informing her that she is currently being arrested by unnamed CIDG officers. Immediately after the phone call, the officers insisted on for Valle to come with them.
“I wasn’t showing it but I was already so scared by then. I really did not want to go with them.”
The officers also told her to stop contacting and calling people, then proceeded to confiscate and disassemble her phones, leaving her with no way of communicating loved ones about her whereabouts.
Valle tried once again to get her phone back when their group stopped at a police station, but once more she was refused. The continuous refusal just fueled Valle’s growing fear that maybe they were not, in fact, taking her in so she can clear her name and she was being taken for another reason.
“I remember asking myself, ‘where would they take me?’ because in the first place, they (the CIDG) weren’t saying anything about it.”
They eventually took her to Iligan, in a police station, where they took her mugshot and fingerprints in order to file a report.
Valle also said that they had made her wear a shirt labeled ‘CIDG DETAINEE,’ while taking her mugshots.
“Can you imagine me, wearing that? What am I? A criminal?” said Valle, adding that it was that exact moment that almost made her burst our crying. “It’s like they were really pinning me down!”
It was also then that she noticed that the name written on the warrant was not hers, but for someone named Elsa Renton, “They hastily added a Valle at the end, so they could claim that it was me.”
She also said that she had asserted that she was part of the media multiple of times, and even showed one of her identification cards. “I can’t even manage to hurt a fly but I was being arrested for arson!”
While in Iligan, Valle also tried contacting her colleagues living in the city, and gave their names and numbers to the local police, “I found out later on that the police did not try to contact them.”
She then asked the local police officer to Google her name to prove her identity, but the police told her that the name on the warrant could just be one of her aliases.
Valle, mentally and physically exhausted by then, did not find it in her to reason out with the authorities anymore. After their brief stay in Iligan, the group told her that they were transferring her to their main station in Zamboanga.
“At that moment, I wondered if someone would be able to find my body in Zamboanga (if worse comes to worst) because no one still knows where I was being taken! All I told my friend was ‘I would be taken to a police station in Cagayan’ but I was already on my way to Zamboanga.”
After arriving at the CIDG station in Pagadian City, Valle’s fear had overtaken her mind and the weariness of the continuous travel had worn out her body as well.
In Pagadian, she was finally allowed to contact her family and inform them of her whereabouts, “That’s when I really broke down.”
Valle, who was asthmatic, had an attack due to the physical and emotional strain the ordeal put her though, she also said that her blood pressure had shot up to 400/100.
From six in the morning until her eventual release at 11:18 in the evening, Valle was held in custody of the CIDG for almost 12 hours, under detention and incommunicado for most of her detention.
“What they did made me like a criminal. They took my mugshot, my fingerprint…I could not just let it be,” Valle said.
Legal actions would be taken
The National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) assured that they would be taking legal actions against the officers of CIDG.
Katherine Panguban of NUPL said, “We condemn the numerous human rights violations Margarita Valle experienced, when she was arbitrary detained and deprived of her liberty for 12 hours.”