Farmer sues soldiers, officers over illegal arrest/detention

Cebu City—As Christendom immersed in the observance of Holy Week, a peasant activist in Sta.Catalina, Negros Oriental has have enough of persecution by the military and decided to haul them to justice over the weekend.

Tired of being hounded by threats, Cristopher Sollano, 18, a member of the local peasant association in Sitio Payao-payaowan, Brgy. Nagbinlod, Sta.Catalina and volunteer of the human rights monitoring team of the premier human rights umbrella KARAPATAN, charged Lt. Col. Ariel Felicidario of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, Lt. Col. Pio Diñoso III and 1Lt. Tagli of the 79th Infantry Battalion of illlegal Arrest and detention as well as violations of various statutes, such as Republic Act No. 7438 (An Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, or Under Custodial Investigation). Also included in the complaint filed on Holy Thursday were Cpl. Ysrael Yosores, Sgt. Corpus, and John Does.

The verified complaint arose from the mass arrest of residents and human rights volunteers, including Sollano, on 17 March 2011, while they were trying to bring to a hospital resident and farmer Marvin Villegas who was shot by soldiers of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion earlier in the day.

In his sworn statement, the victim stated that:

“At around 10:00 pm, we reached Sitio Danao, Brgy. Nagbinlod, Sta.Catalina, Negros Oriental, when members of the 79th Infantry Battalion led by Sgt. Delfin Jaime Corpuz, Cpl. Ysrael Anano Yosores under the command of 1Lt. Tagli and Lt. Col. Pio Diñoso III jumped out from their hiding and took us hostages.
“At gunpoint, Sgt. Delfin Corpuz, Cpl. Ysrael Yosores and other soldiers took turn in interrogating me without showing any legal basis.

“I heard our team leader, Mr. Manuel Bentillo, explain to the soldiers the necessity of giving immediate medical attention to civilian and victim Marvin Villegas, but the soldiers took no concern.

To recall, two separate complaints have been filed by Bentillo and a local deacon in Brgy. Payao-payawan against the soldiers before the Ombudsman-Visayas on 23 March, 2011. The said complaints have already been endorsed by the Ombudsman-Visayas to the Ombudsman for Military Affairs in Metro Manila.

KARAPATAN expects more complainants to come into the open in the succeeding weeks.

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