Father of student activist asks SC to compel Army to release daughter

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2019 08:08 PM

Alexandrea Pacalda. Screen grab from Karapatan video

MANILA – The father of a student activist who was allegedly abducted by the military has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Philippine Army to release his child.

Arnulfo Pacalda on Monday filed a petition for the issuance of a writ habeas corpus to force the military to produce her daughter, Alexandrea Pacalda, in court and release her after notice and hearing.

Pacalda claimed Alexandrea, a college student, was arrested in Gen. Luna, Quezon on the evening of September 14 without a warrant by 6 armed men in civilian clothing and has been detained without any charge for 9 days.

The armed men were later identified to be members of the 85th Infantry Battalion (IB). 
 
She was then taken on board a blue van to a military camp and later to a police station where she was allegedly questioned without a lawyer, according to the petition.

Pacalda said he only saw his daughter on September 15 at the General Luna Police Station “weak, starved and deprived of sleep.” He said he, Alexandrea, and his son Jessar, were forced to sign a document claiming Alexandrea voluntarily surrendered.

The petition also said Alexandrea told one of her lawyers that the soldiers forced her to sign 3 affidavits, one of which turned out to be an affidavit of voluntary surrender.

“According to her, she signed the affidavits because she was not in full possession of her mental faculties due to sleep and food deprivation, psywar and mental torture. She was forced to sign the documents without giving her enough time to read and understand their contents,” read the petition.

Pacalda, assisted by laywers Kathy Panguban and Maria Sol Taule, submitted a handwritten note from Alexandrea claiming she was tortured, forced to sign several documents and appear before a notary public.

Despite demands from the Commission on Human Rights, Pacalda said the military refused to release his daughter.
 
“Alexandrea is being illegally abducted and held without charges by the 85th Infantry Battalion under the command of respondent Col. Arnold Gasalatan,” the petition alleged.
 
“It is clear that Alexandrea was illegally arrested and tortured, and that the respondents illegally restrained her liberty and are causing her continued detention without any legal cause for which she is entitled to the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus under Rule 120 of the Rules of Court,” it said.

Aside from Gasalatan, named as respondents in the petition are Philippine Army Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division; Capt. Benedict Alfonso Cagatin, Civil-Military Officer of the 201st Brigade; and, 1Lt. Randy Bobis, Intelligence Officer of the 85th Infantry Battalion.

The military had denied abducting Alexandrea. It earlier claimed the missing activist-turned-NPA rebel had surrendered.