By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA– Davao-based journalist Margarita Valle appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse and set aside the order of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing the motion for reconsideration she submitted after the office junked her criminal complaint against police and military officers.
“It is my fervent prayer and wish that the highest court of this land will give due cognizance of my inviolable right as a Filipino and hold to account all those who have caused me untold trauma up to this day,” Valle said in a statement.
Valle’s colleagues at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines filed her petition for certiorari via registered mail today, Oct. 1. Officers of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) serve as her legal counsels.
Valle included the Office of the Ombudsman in her petition for certiorari, saying that it acted “with grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction” when it ruled that there was no probable cause to indict police and military officers who arbitrarily arrested her and detained her for almost 12 hours on June 9, 2019.
“I am also holding the Ombudsman accountable for not enforcing the laws against my accusers for so-called technical reasons that the office adamantly pursued,” said Valle.
She also added that the office failed to protect her interest as a citizen from the abuse of power of those who are supposed to “serve and protect” the people.
Through its Special Panel of Investigators, the Office of the Ombudsman found that there was no probable cause to indict the police and military officers, and dismissed the administrative and criminal charges filed by Valle. Only two perpetrators were held liable for simple neglect of duty and were ordered suspended for three months without pay.
Following that decision, Valle’s lawyers filed for a motion of reconsideration in October 2020, which was also dismissed by the Ombudsman in June 2021, citing that Valle failed to provide new evidence or present proof of errors committed by the Ombudsman that would warrant a reversal of their previous decision.
Colleagues expressed support for Valle’s quest for justice.
The International Association of Women and Radio and Television Philippines (IAWRT Philippines) said it hopes that the Supreme Court will be able to help the veteran journalist in her continuous search for justice.
“We hope that this time, the Supreme Court will be enlightened about what truly transpired on that unfortunate day – when those who were mandated to serve and protect attempted to snuff out the light of press freedom.”
The NUJP also hopes that the Supreme Court will see that holding a journalist– or any citizen– incommunicado over a case of “mistaken identity” is more than just a matter of carelessness and indifference.
[Statement] Can police simply 'neglect' a person's rights? pic.twitter.com/pmrBAKLOci
— NUJP (@nujp) October 1, 2021
“More than an apology and a slap on the wrist, we call for accountability and justice for the arrest of Margarita Valle and hope that hers is the last case of “mistaken identity” even when the presumption of regularity is often used to shield even the most irregular acts from scrutiny.” (RVO)