Child abuse complaint filed vs Sagay police over massacre case

MANILA, Philippines – The mother of a child who witnessed the bloody October massacre in Sagay, Negros Occidental, has filed complaints of abuses against policemen for allegedly coercing her son to testify against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

This is a counter suit to an earlier kidnapping complaint filed by the Sagay police against lawyer Kathy Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) for allegedly holding the child-witness against his will.

The mother, whose identity is being kept secret in accordance with the law on violence against women and children, filed the complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday, December 4.

The mother is suing Police Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, chief of Sagay police; Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Jullie Ann Diaz and PO Christine Magpusaw under Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act. They are also being accused of violating Supreme Court rules on handling child witnesses.

Panguban told reporters on Tuesday that the police is working wth the mother’s estranged husband,  who had supposedly abandoned the child 10 years ago, to pressure the child to testify that the NPA was behind the Sagay massacre, where 9 sugar farmers were brutally killed.

The military had accused communists of firing "agitation shots" that led to more shootings, supposedly a ploy to instigate hate toward the government. The killings coincided with Red October, a plot that both the army and the police floated to have been allegedly planned by communists and other allies to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Panguban said the police, with the aid of the father, had questioned the child without proper representation, violating guidelines. Panguban added that the child had repeatedly said he cannot identify anyone from the crime scene because it was too dark.

Panguban is representing the mother. The mother had earlier denied that Panguban kidnapped her son.

“Kahit military nagsasabi na the child can pinpoint the NPA na gumawa nung massacre, 'yung nanay dahil gusto niyang manatiling normal at safe 'yung anak niya, inilayo niya from that possibility na magamit 'yung bata,” Panguban said.

(Even the military is saying the child can pinpoint the NPA as having been behind the massacre, but the mother wants her child to remain normal and safe, so she’s shielding him from the possibility of being used.)

The mother also filed a complaint against her estranged husband under Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act.

“Pinipilit niya 'yung nanay, 'yung mag-ina, na bumalik sa kanya at lumapit sa mga pulis, 'yun 'yung malinaw,” Panguban said.

(He is forcing the mother and her son to go back to him and go the police, that’s very clear.) – Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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