MANILA, Philippines – The police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) apologized to Davao-based columnist Margarita Valle for having arrested her by mistake over the weekend.
In a statement released on Monday evening, June 10, CIDG Region 9 chief Colonel Tom Tuzon extended his "sincerest apologies" to Valle.
"Due to uncertainties and less than 100% assurance of your identity from our informant, we have brought you to the CIDG office, Pagadian City, that caused you unnecessary anxiety. We do realize that we should have heeded your call regarding your identity from the start and have released you at the airport," Tuzon said.
Valle was arrested by the CIDG with local cops and soldiers at the Laguindingan Airport at around 9:30 am on Sunday, June 9, then brought her 200 kilometers away to Pagadian City only to have their informant say that she was misidentified. She was released at 9:30 pm on the same day.
Tuzon and his men mistook 61-year-old Valle for a murder and arson suspect.
The CIDG explained that the information that Valle was the suspect came from a "reliable source" of the military, but they admitted that they "should have conducted validation prior to the arrest." (READ: CHR: Mistaken arrest of Davao columnist 'puts into question' PNP guidelines)
"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 said.
READ: PNP CIDG apologizes to Davao Today columnist Margarita Valle after arresting her on mistaken identity at the Laguindingan Airport on Sunday. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/ywoaihSbFE — Rambo Talabong (@ramboreports) June 10, 2019
In a press conference on Monday morning, police chief General Oscar Albayalde downplayed the mistakes of his men, admitting that "it (mistaken arrests) happens." Then he passed the blame on their anonymous informants and the complainants.
It appears Valle and her family will not accept the police's apology.
Rius Valle, Margarita's son, said on Monday the police did not commit a mistake, but a botched enforced disappearance.
"Rest assured we wil stay vigilant, we will hold them (CIDG) accountable. If they can do this to a journalist, what will prevent them from doing this to an ordinary citizen?" Rius Valle said. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.