Palace tells PNP to apologize to columnist they arrested by mistake
Malacanang on Monday told the Philippine National Police to apologize after they mistakenly arrested a columnist in an airport in Cagayan de Oro last Sunday.
“If it’s a mistaken identity, the police would owe that journalist an apology,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing.
On Sunday, a columnist identified as Fidelina Margarita Valle, 60, was arrested by police at Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental for multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and damage to property.
But later, it was revealed that the informant who pointed to her mistakenly identified Valle. Valle was released around 9:30 pm after she was brought to Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur.
For their part, PNP chief, Police General Oscar Albayalde directed the director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group ( CIDG) to investigate the incident.
“If that person feels that she was violated, we will very be glad to assist her if her arrest or the manner of her arrest violated her (rights),” Albayalde said in a press briefing.
“We will not hesitate to file charges against our people,” he added. “We will still see what are the lapses of our people there. If they have done something in bad faith then we will not hesitate to file administrative cases or even criminal cases.”
Albayalde said mistaken identity is a rare and isolated case.
“Included in the investigation (is) on how deep is their case buildup. Remember our law enforcers were not familiar with the subject. It is the complainant who knows the subject usually and they based their actions on the informant,” he said.
He said the operation against the subject of warrant was referred to them by the military.
“Since they don’t have police power, they have to go to the PNP,” said Albayalde.
The PNP chief said the arresting officers believed the informant probably because their counterparts were “sure” the person they are arresting is the suspect.
“We still don’t know what happened on the ground, what compelled them to do it. It's because probably their counterparts were also so sure that this person is one and the same person that’s why they arrested her,” he said.
“If we don’t (arrest her), she might escape and she may be the real person then the complainant will complain the action of the police,” he added.
The informant was not with the arresting team when the incident happened, and they only have the suspect's picture which allegedly really look like Valle.
So far, no officers were relieved due to the incident as the CIDG is still investigating.
“I already directed the regional field unit chief in Region 9 (Zamboanga) to submit a complete report on how the operation started because it was a project that was referred by our counterparts and we only give police assistance from all police units including the CIDG in the area,” CIDG director Major General Amador Corpus said. Ella Dionisio/DMS