DOJ junks kidnapping suit vs human rights lawyer in Sagay massacre case

Lian Buan
DOJ junks kidnapping suit vs human rights lawyer in Sagay massacre case

LeAnne Jazul

The complainant, the father of a boy who survived the Sagay massacre, is a no-show at the hearings

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has junked the kidnapping complaint filed against human rights lawyer Kathy Panguban over the custody of a child survivor in the massacre in Sagay, Negros Occidental, last year.

Panguban, who is from the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), acted as lawyer to the mother of the child survivor. Later, the child’s estranged father Vic Pedaso filed a kidnapping complaint against Panguban, a move the NUPL had described as harrassment enabled by the police. 

“It was Flordeliza (the mother) who sought the help and assistance of Atty Kathy Panguban. There is a lack of deprivation of liberty as (the child) freely chose to be with Flordeliza, his biological mother,” the DOJ said in a resolution signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Ferdinand Fernandez on June 17.

Panguban had accused Sagay police of working with Pedaso to supposedly pressure the child to testify that the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) was behind the massacre of  9 sugar farmers. The child was at the crime scene but was spared.

Flordeliza had filed a counter suit of child abuse against Sagay police chief Major Robert Mansueto, Master Sergeant Jullie Ann Diaz and Patrolwoman Christine Magpusaw.

The DOJ said that Panguban was able to prove that Flordeliza voluntarily submitted herself and her son to the custody of the lawyer.

“There is no kidnapping or serious illegal detention to speak of, as the minor victim was taken from the custody of his biological father Vic Pedaso, and given to his mother,” said the DOJ. 

Pedaso first got custody of the child as he was the first to get to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Police had turned over the child to the DSWD after the incident.

Panguban eventually accompanied Flordeliza to the authorities. Flordeliza claimed Pedaso had long ago abandoned them. The child chose to go with his mother after. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.