DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Two officials from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Region 9 who are among the police and military officials facing charges in the wrongful arrest and detention of Davao Today columnist Margarita Valle asked the Office of Ombudsman for the 30-day extension to file their counter affidavits.
Both Police Colonel Tom Tuzon, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Regional Field Unit in Zamboanga City and Police Captain Mohammad Madzdie Aziz K. Mukaram were included in the charges of arbitrary detention, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, violation of the anti-torture act of 2009; as well as gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official.
The criminal and administrative charges were filed by Valle and her lawyers before the Ombudsman last July 4 over her unlawful arrest at Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental in June 9.
A two-page motion for extension was filed by the two police officials on September 10.
Tuzon and Mukaram said that they received the copy of the Ombudsman order with Valle’s complaint-affidavit on September 2, directing them to file their counter affidavits within 10 days or until September 12.
“In all honesty, we cannot comply in such a short period of time although we really want to,” Tuzon and Mukaram said.
They are requesting for an extension, saying that the charges against them are “very grave and complex”.
“We are humble enough to admit that we cannot prepare our Counter-Affidavit ourselves. We need the services of a counsel who will defend us in these cases considering that the complainant is being handled by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). As such, we need time to look for a competent and experienced counsel whom we can trust for our defense,” the two officials said.
They added that they also “need to prepare the necessary documentary and testimonial evidence for our Counter-Affidavit.”
Although not yet final, the two said they are “thinking of hiring the services of a law firm and we are just looking for a feasible schedule to travel to Luzon to personally discuss its fees for it to handle these cases.”
Tuzon and Mukaram added: “It must be noted that we are detailed here in Mindanao. We therefore plead for an extension of thirty days from September 12, 2019 or up to October 12, 2019 to file our counter-affidavit.”
Valle previously rejected Tuzon’s apology issued after saying that she was only “mistakenly” arrested as a certain “Elsa Renton”, a suspected communist member.
The 60-year old columnist was held incommunicado for about eight hours and was transported to CIDG office in Camp Abelon, Pagadian City.
Tuzon admitted that they should have validated the information coming from the military prior the arrest.
“As of this writing, we are investigating the recent police operation at Laguindingan Airport to identify lapses in our police operational procedures and in our personnel who were involved in the operation. Any misconduct related to your arrest will be dealt with accordingly,” Tuzon wrote in the apology.
But Valle insisted to hold accountable all the men in uniform involved in her arrest. “The refusal of my captors to answer my questions as to where and what they will do to me caused me stress and fear for my safety, for my life,” she said. (davaotoday.com)