AFTER escaping his abductors last year, survivor Raymond Manalo has sought justice from the Office of the Ombudsman, filing criminal and administrative cases against military officials yesterday.

Retired officers Lieutenant General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Major General Jovito Palparan Jr, and Major General Juanito Gomez, along with 17 other respondents, face charges of kidnapping, illegal detention, and other violations of the Revised Penal Code.

Manalo, in his complaint, said that the respondents unlawfully arrested him and his brother Reynaldo on February 14, 2006, and detained them at several camps in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija where they were subjected to “torture, physical injuries, threats, involuntary servitude” everyday for more than a year.

Read Raymond Manalo’s administrative and criminal complaint against his abductors.

Manalo had identified his abductors as members of the 7th Infantry Division which was then under the command of Palparan, who was known as “berdugo” (butcher) among activists for his alleged involvement in cases of human rights violations across the country.

The Manalo brothers were able to escape captivity in August 2007 and were granted the writ of amparo the same year.

Manalo said, “Sana kilalanin, bigyan ng hustisya ng Ombudsman ang karasahansang ginawa sa inosenteng magsasakang tulad ko, pati sa ibang pang mga biktima (I hope that the Ombudsman would acknowledge and give due justice to the violations committed against an innocent farmer like me, and the other victims too.)”

Early this year, Manalo had testified before the Court of Appeals, which had confirmed suspicions that the military also had custody of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

‘Unlawful arrest’

The complaint stated that the respondents violated Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code in detaining Manalo and his brother without legal grounds.

Also, the restraint of liberty inflicted on the complainant amounting to his arrest was not among the instances in Section 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court which defines situations when warrantless arrests are lawful.

“(T)he subsequent detention of the undersigned (Manalo) was unlawful and arbitrary from the beginning,” read the complaint.

Under the law, any public officer or employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person, shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment in varying periods.

Manalo also filed an administrative complaint against all the respondents for “gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, gross oppression and for acts unbecoming of a public officer.”

Atty. Rex Fernandez who assisted Manalo in filing the case, said “I am hopeful about this case, but whether or not the result would be favorable to us is another story.”

The lawyer said there are several cases of human rights violations, which up to now, had not been acted upon by the Ombudsman. Despite this, Fernandez said they would still like to remain positive.

As for Manalo, “Mayroong takot pero umaasa ako na mananaig ang hustisya (I have fears, but I do hope that justice will prevail).”

Media restraint

Prior to the filing of the case, the Ombudsman’s security staff restricted media personnel from accompanying Manalo and his counsel in submitting the complaint at the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) located at the third floor.

For “security reasons,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer photographer Raffy Lerma and two GMA-7 cameramen were only allowed at the lobby.

“The Office of the Ombudsman is a public place,” Fernandez told the security officers. “Restricting the press to do its job is a violation of media freedom.”

Disappointed, the lawyer said that the Ombudsman has been a “fortification of things the administration wants to hide.”

Meanwhile, families of the disappeared under the organization Desaparecidos staged a picket outside to express their support for Manalo.

“The Manalo brothers and all other victims of human rights violations deserve all possible support for combating impunity,” said Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

She added that Manalo’s case is another challenge for the justice system in the face of brazen and systematic human rights violations committed under the current regime.

“Now is the time for the judges to show that the rule of law will prevail and the violators will be punished,” Enriquez said.

A civil case was also filed against the same respondents later that day at the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City.

2 Responses to Survivor of ‘enforced disappearance’ seeks justice from Ombudsman


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September 13th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

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December 17th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I just wonder whether those protesters are true to their cause or just a bunch of people paid just to hold those placards.

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