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Davao City, Philippines

NUJP condemns ‘mistaken identity’ arrest of journalist

June 10, 2019 - Monday 11:06 AM by Jon Joaquin, MindaNews

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DAVAO CITY -- The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Monday condemned the arrest of journalist and development worker Fidelina Margarita “Gingging” Avellanosa-Valle in Cagayan de Oro City on Sunday, saying it was "not a lawful operation but a criminal abduction of a journalist."

Valle was arrested by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 9 at 10:30 a.m. Sunday while waiting for her flight home to Davao City.

Her arrest was based on a December 29, 2011 warrant of arrest against "Elsa Renton@ Tina Maglaya / Fidelina Margarita Valle y Avellanosa” for alleged “multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and damage to government property” issued in Misamis Occidental by Judge Bernadette Paredes-Encinarea “with no bail recommended” and arson issued by Judge Aniceto Galon Jr. in Pagadian City judge on September 4, 2006 with bail recommended at P24,000.

Online news agency MindaNews said it sent Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Colonel Bernad Banac a text message at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday asking for details of the charges.

MindaNews also asked who Elsa Renton is and if Valle’s arrest were a case of mistaken identity.

At 8:17 p.m. Banac sent a message saying Valle is “now for release.”

“After the coordination was made at AVSEC (Aviation Security) 10, Laguindingan Airport and Laguindingan MPS (municipal police station), Valle was “brought to CIDG 9 office (in Pagadian City) for verification and identification.”

Laguindingan Airport to Pagadian is about 200 kilometers away.

“However, upon arrival of the witness who physically identified the subject, witness further averred that the suspect has major resemblance but is not the actual suspect who is the subject of the warrant.”

The report did not say if the witness was for the murder or arson case.

“Furthermore, upon the revelation of the witness, suspect identified as Fidelina Margarita Valle y Avellanosa was subjected for release after the conduct of medical examination and proper documentation,” Banac said.

The NUJP “strongly condemned” Valle’s “abduction and the CIDG's violation of her basic rights."

"How else do authorities explain why Ms. Valle was held incommunicado for hours even as the police issued a statement saying she was facing multiple crimes from a decade ago, only to admit they had the wrong person?” the NUJP said in a statement.

"This is the equivalent of 'shoot now, ask questions later,’” it added.

The NUJP demanded that the police and military personnel involved in the arrest as well as their superiors "be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law." With a report from Carol Arguillas/MindaNews