Court of Appeals rejects plea to have activist released after being arrested without warrant

The Court of Appeals (CA) has rejected an appeal by Arnulfo Pacalda to have his daughter, 23-year-old activist Alexandrea Pacalda, released from the Philippine Military’s custody, despite her having been arrested without a warrant in September.

In a decision yesterday, the CA’s Third Division said Alexandrea cannot be released because she is facing criminal charges that were filed by the authorities in Catanuan town, Quezon province. A member of the feminist group Gabriela Youth, she was charged with violating Republic Act 9516, or the illegal possession, manufacture, and sale of firearms.

Read: Savage Bern: PH accuses Bernie Sanders of ‘grandstanding’ over scathing remarks on rights record

“Once the person detained is duly charged in court, he may no longer question his detention by a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus,” the court said. “In fine, the petition praying for the release of Alexandrea from detention loses legal mooring and is rendered moot and academic by the subsequent information [or criminal charges] filed against her before the regional trial court Branch 96 of Catanuan, Quezon…. It thus becomes unnecessary to pass upon the other issues raised in the petition.”

The concept of habeas corpus is meant to ensure that those detained have a right to appear before a judge to determine whether they are being lawfully detained.

Read: PH police chief accuses activist groups of ‘abusing’ ’89 accord that keeps cops off campus

Alexandrea, a former student journalist at the Manuel Enverga University in  Lucena City, was arrested without a warrant in September from the town of General Luna in Quezon by six armed men wearing civilian clothing. The men were later identified to be members of the Army, ABS-CBN reported.

Arnulfo alleged that his daughter was tortured by his abductors, while the military claims she was a member of the rebel group New People’s Army who had chosen to surrender. However, in a video that Alexandrea sent to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, she said she was deprived of food and sleep for up to 30 hours by the military, and that the soldiers allegedly forced her to sign a false affidavit in which she confessed to being an NPA rebel.

According to Arnulfo, his daughter remains in detention at the headquarters of the 201st Brigade in Calauag, Quezon.

 

This article, Court of Appeals rejects plea to have activist released after being arrested without warrant, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!