THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Two of the nine punks long for home as they have been detained for eight months now at the Benguet Provincial Jail. (Junjun Guillermo/NORDIS Photo)
BAGUIO CITY (Oct.5) — The nine punks illegally arrested by the Benguet police welcomed the appointment of a new prosecutor to investigate them, reiterating that as innocent victims detained for eight months now the investigation should have been done earlier.
Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales last week assigned Baguio Assistant Prosecutor Octavio Banta to conduct a reinvestigation of the nine punks still languishing at the Benguet Provincial Jail for almost eight months after they were “illegally” arrested by members of the province Philippine National Police (PNP). Banta’s reinvestigation may recommend filing or not of a case based on the existence of a probable cause.
The youth punks detained, originally called “Sagada 11” to their peers, gained media attention after crying foul for police brutality and hideous torture experiences through their name “Punks 11” with their tattoos, fitted pants, black boots and nonchalant hairstyle(usually dreadlocks and mohawks), after being implicated in an NPA raid on a military detachment in Mankayan on February 14 this year.
Originally 11, down to 9 after two minors Frencess Ann Bernal and Aldoz Manosa from Manila were ordered released by Judge Agapito Laogan as a result of the law on Juvenile Justice Law that protects minors from criminal persecution.
Left behind bars are the following Jefferson de la Rosa, 22, single from Santolan, Pasig City;Neil Russel Balajadia, 25, also from Santolan, Pasig City; Ron Pandino, 19, single from Campung, Laguna; Arvie Nunez, 21, single from Silang Mayaw, Lucena City; Jethro Villagracia, 22, single from Malagos, Calinan Davao City; Anderson T. Alonzo, 18 single also from Malagos, Calinan Davao City; Rundren Lao, 24, also from Davao City.
CHRA (Cordillera Human Rights Alliance) Vice-chair Beverly Longid lamented that the recent developments proved to be an advantage after Judge Agapito Laoagan, Jr. asked Gonzales to assign prosecutors “with no preconception” about the case and hoping Fiscal Banta would immediately start the reinvestigation. She also added the punks case had caught the attention of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who sympathized for the early release of the nine more punks left specifically the three members who hail from Davao.
Reportedly Laoagan was ready to release the “Punks” in May after he ruled out that arresting officers violated their constitutional right. Later granted Benguet prosecutors ample time to re-file the case pushing civil rights lawyer to request for reinvestigation.
Chief Supt. Raul Gonzales , Cordillera police director, said the Benguet police had evidence to support the claim that the youths had participated in the raid conducted by the New People’s Army in Cabiten, Mankayan.
According to Lao and De la Rosa when interviewed by Nordis, obviously in frenzy, “Magandang development ito sana tuloy-tuloy na. Salamat pala sa mga punks sa Davao sa pangungulit sa opisina ni Mayor Duterte. Salamat sa mga sumusuporta sa amin,” (This is a good development and we hope it is sustained. Thanks to the Davao Punks for interceding in our behalf in front of Duterte. Thanks for the support) added de la Rosa. # Nestor Guillermo for NORDIS
Help the Sagada 9 punks gain their freedom! Sign the online petition Free the Benguet 9 Punks!