Davao journalist mistakenly arrested for murder sues police, military officers

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Davao journalist Margarita Valle was arrested on June 9 at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental, and was released after an over 12-hour detention after a witness said she just resembled the suspect.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 4) — Davao-based journalist Margarita Valle, who was mistakenly arrested for murder in Laguindingan airport on June 9, filed charges Thursday against the police and the military for her detention.

Valle sued before the Office of the Ombudsman officials of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army for kidnapping, serious illegal detention, violations of the Anti-Torture Act, among others.

The 13 charged include PNP Chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde, PNP Spokesperson PCol. Bernard Banac, and BGen. Jacinto Bareng of the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

In her 20-page complaint, Valle said she was not allowed to see her arrest warrant until she was released, and was prevented from contacting her legal counsel regarding her detention.

"None of the respondents apprised me of the charges I am facing the time they arrested me. I even asked for a copy of the said warrants of arrest that they have against me. However, they did not give me time to read it," she said in her complaint.

"Hence, I hold these respondents accountable for blatantly denying me of my rights as a person under arrest," Valle added.

The warrant used to arrest Valle was named after Elsa Renton, whom their witness said Valle had a "huge semblance" with. Renton was to be nabbed for quadruple frustrated murder charges as well as charges for damage to government property based on a warrant issued by a Misamis Oriental regional court in December 2011.

The police had earlier apologized for the case of mistaken identity.

President Rodrigo Duterte's administration has faced a backlash for its perceived attacks on press freedom. A report by the International Federation of Journalists in 2018 revealed there have been 12 journalists and media personnel killed during Duterte’s term.

Malacañang had maintained that the killings and arrests of journalists were not work-related.