ABUSE, THREAT

Raps filed vs Sa­gay mi­nor-sur­vivor’s pa, cops

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY GLAZYL Y. MASCULINO

THE fa­ther of the mi­nor who wit­nessed the bloody mas­sacre in Sa­gay City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal, and three po­lice­men from Sa­gay City Po­lice Sta­tion are fac­ing charges be­fore the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) on Tues­day, De­cem­ber 4, for al­legedly forc­ing the mi­nor to tes­tify on the “Sa­gay 9” in­ci­dent which hap­pened on Oc­to­ber 20.

Lawyer Kather­ine Pan­guban of the Na­tional Union of Peo­ples’ Lawyers (NUPL), in a phone in­ter­view with Sun­star Ba­colod yes­ter­day, said the mother of the mi­nor filed a com­plaint for vi­o­la­tion of Repub­lic Act 9262 or the An­tiv­i­o­lence Against Women and Chil­dren Act against Vic Pedaso, her es­tranged hus­band.

Pan­guban said the crim­i­nal com­plaint came af­ter the mother, whose name was with­held, has been re­port­edly re­ceiv­ing con­stant threats from Pedaso through text mes­sages and phone calls to lo­cate her where­abouts.

She said Pedaso is forc­ing his es­tranged wife to re­turn their son to him, de­spite their hes­i­ta­tion.

Pan­guban also said the mi­nor does not even know his fa­ther, who aban­doned him for 10 years.

“It is al­ready a psy­cho­log­i­cal vi­o­lence. It made the mother wor­ried and afraid for her son,” the lawyer

added.

Pan­guban said the mother and son took sanc­tu­ary in Manila, through the as­sis­tance of Kara­p­atan­negros and NUPL, af­ter they feared for their safety fol­low­ing the is­sue on the cus­tody of the child-wit­ness.

The mi­nor was first un­der the cus­tody of Sa­gay City Po­lice Sta­tion for safe­keep­ing but they turned him over to Sa­gay City So­cial Wel­fare and Devel­op­ment Of­fice (CSWDO) for de­brief­ing af­ter his trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence.

On Oc­to­ber 25, the CSWDO turned over the mi­nor, whom po­lice con­sid­ered as a pri­mary wit­ness on the in­ci­dent, to his mother in the pres­ence of his fa­ther.

But Pedaso filed kid­nap­ping charges against Pan­guban for al­legedly tak­ing cus­tody of his child by us­ing his es­tranged wife.

He be­lieved that his es­tranged wife was only be­ing used by pro­gres­sive groups to get the cus­tody of his child, a state­ment which the NUPL had ear­lier dis­missed, claim­ing they are only pro­tect­ing the child.

The kid­nap­ping charge was al­ready for­warded to the Re­gional State Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice in Iloilo City and was sent to DOJ in Manila for ap­pro­pri­ate dis­po­si­tion. How­ever, NUPL has yet to re­ceive a copy of the com­plaint.

As this de­vel­oped, the mi­nor, rep­re­sented by his mother, also filed charges for vi­o­la­tion of Repub­lic Act 7610 or the Spe­cial Pro­tec­tion of chil­dren against abuse, ex­ploita­tion, and dis­crim­i­na­tion act against Chief In­spec­tor Robert Man­sueto, chief of Sa­gay City Po­lice Sta­tion, and two per­son­nel of Women and Chil­dren’s Pro­tec­tion Desk (WCPD) for al­legedly al­low­ing the mi­nor to be in­ter­viewed with­out the con­sent of his par­ents or guardians.

Pan­guban said the po­lice vi­o­lated the han­dling of a child-wit­ness. He was alone all the time, she added.

For his part, Man­sueto said he wel­comed the charges filed against him, but he con­sid­ered their claims and ba­sis of the com­plaint as “fab­ri­cated.”

Man­sueto said he has ev­i­dence that can prove that the mi­nor was not forced when he was asked to tes­tify on the in­ci­dent through an af­fi­davit.

“Wala man na diri ang nanay sang natabo na di. Amu na bisan ano ila iham­bal sa nanay, ma­p­ati na lang sa ila (The mother was not present here when it hap­pened. She will just be­lieve what­ever they say to her),” Man­sueto said.

It is just their way to ha­rass the po­lice be­cause they can’t think of other ways, he added.

There was no in­tim­i­da­tion that hap­pened, he re­it­er­ated.

The CSWDO ear­lier said there was an agree­ment be­tween the mother and the of­fice that if the mi­nor is needed for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he will be trans­ported to Sa­gay City but the said of­fice has no com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them since they went to Manila.

The Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) in a me­dia in­ter­view said they re­spect the mother’s de­ci­sion but they stressed that it is also the duty of the po­lice to file charges against per­sons whom they think are hin­der­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

On Oc­to­ber 20, nine farm­ers were killed by uniden­ti­fied armed men while they were rest­ing in a makeshift tent at Ha­cienda Nene in Bu­lanon vil­lage.

Barely a week af­ter the in­ci­dent, the Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal Po­lice Pro­vin­cial Of­fice (Nocppo) filed mul­ti­ple mur­der charges against Rene Man­lan­git and Rogelio Arquillo, and seven John Does.

Po­lice have been ques­tion­ing the al­leged “ma­li­cious dis­ap­pear­ance” of Man­lan­git and Arquillo, the al­leged re­cruiters of the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Su­gar Work­ers (NFWS), who in­vited the nine vic­tims to the said ha­cienda when it hap­pened.

Both sur­vived when they went to a nearby hut to charge their cel­lu­lar phones when the shoot­ing hap­pened but they de­nied the al­le­ga­tions against them, claim­ing they have no in­volve­ment in it.

Au­thor­i­ties have been blam­ing the NFSW, whom they con­sid­ered the le­gal front of New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA), as be­hind the killings by us­ing the slain farm­ers as “sac­ri­fi­cial lambs” to pur­sue their “wicked mo­tive” to de­stroy the gov­ern­ment.

The NFSW and other pro­gres­sive groups de­nied the claims of the po­lice and mil­i­tary and even con­demned the PNP for fil­ing the charges against two of its mem­bers while the killers of the mas­sacre go scot-free.

On Novem­ber 28, fam­i­lies and mem­bers of hu­man rights ad­vo­cate and pro­gres­sive groups led the ec­u­meni­cal ser­vice in Es­calante City to mark the 40th day of the slain farm work­ers.

They of­fered a mass and trib­ute to mar­tyrs held at the Mt. Carmel Church fol­lowed by a can­dle light­ing cer­e­mony.

The same ser­vices were also held in Ba­colod City and Quiapo, Manila, the fol­low­ing day, to ex­press their sol­i­dar­ity in the peo­ple’s call for jus­tice for the vic­tims of the Sa­gay mas­sacre.*

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