MANILA (UPDATE) – The police on Sunday arrested Davao City-based columnist Fidelina Margarita Valle at the Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro City, but she was released the same day after authorities realized she was not the person they were looking for.
Valle, a columnist for Davao Today, was arrested by cops and soldiers at the airport on Sunday as she was about to return to Davao City after attending a workshop in Cagayan de Oro.
Major General Oscar Amador Corpus, chief of the Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the joint police-military personnel arrested Valle based on a picture given to them by an informant.
Corpus said from Cagayan de Oro, Valle was brought to Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, only for the informant to confirm that the person in the photo is not Valle.
“Mali ang identity and nung kinonfirm ng informant nila na hindi pala siya because may dala silang picture in the airport, ni-release po ang subject,” Corpus said at a press briefing at the PNP headquarters in Quezon City.
Corpus said authorities were armed with an arrest warrant for a person wanted for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder.
He explained, the person who was in the photo looked like Valle.
He said he has asked the Zamboanga Peninsula regional police office to submit a report on Valle’s wrongful arrest.
Malacañang on Monday said police owe Valle an apology over the incident.
"Eh kung mistaken identity, the police would owe that journalist an apology," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has condemned Valle’s arrest, describing it as an abduction.
The NUJP said the law enforcement agencies were after a certain Elsa Renton, who goes by the aliases Tina Maglaya and Fidelina Margarita Valle.
“How else do authorities explain why Ms. Valle was held incommunicado for hours even as the police issued a statement saying she was facing multiple crimes from a decade ago, only to admit they had the wrong person?” the NUJP said in a statement.
“And the truth is that Ms. Valle's abduction could have had dire, even fatal, consequences. There is no lack of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to drive home this point.”
PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said if Valle feels she was violated by the arrest, “we will be very glad to assist her.”
“Kung may na-violate sa SOP namin we will not hesitate to file charges against our people,” Albayalde said.