By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) was asked on Monday (September 23) to issue a writ of habeas corpus and order the release of a student activist who was allegedly arrested and detained by the military since September 14 on suspicion of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a petition filed by her father Arnulfo R. Pacalda, the SC was told that his daughter Alexandrea P. Pacalda was “illegally arrested and tortured, and that the respondents illegally restrained her liberty and causing her continued detention without any legal cause for which she is entitled to the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus….”
Named respondents in the petition were Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr., commander of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philppine Army; Col. Arnold Gasalatan, commanding officer of the 85th Infantry Battalion; Col. George Joel Lalaquil, officer-in-charge of the 201st Brigade; Capt. Benedict Alfonso, civil-military officer of the 201stBrigade; and Lt. Randy Bobis, intelligence officer of the 85th Infantry Battalion.
A Writ of Habeas Corpus is an order “directing a person detaining another and commanding the former to produce the body of the latter at a designated time and place” It “extends to all cases of illegal or arbitrary detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled thereto.”
The father told the SC that her daughter was the former managing editor of “The Luzonian,” the official student publication of the Manuel Enverga University in Lucena City and is a volunteer of the Pinag-isang Lakas ng Magsasaka sa Quezon (PIGLAS-Quezon), a local peasant organization in the province.
He said Alexandrea was arrested without a warrant at about 6 p.m. on September 14 in Barangay Magsaysay, Gen. Luna, Quezon province by six armed men in civilian clothing, who were later identified to be members of the 85th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
He said her daughter was taken to the headquarters of the 85th Infantry Battalion where she was interrogated without the assistance of a lawyer of her choice.
Later, he said, her daughter was forced to sign an affidavit that she surrendered voluntarily and on assurance that she would be released from detention.
Instead of being released, he said her daughter was taken to the headquarters of the 201st Brigade in Camp General Alfredo Santos in Caluag, Quezon.
He pointed out in his petition that her daughter has been deprived of food and sleep, and has been subjected to psywar and mental torture.
He pleaded the SC to compel the military to present her daughter, in person, to the High Court.
It was not known immediately if Pacalda’s petition will be taken up in Tuesday’s (September 24) full court session of the SC.