Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, urging the government to ensure just resolution on the “mistaken” arrest of journalist Margarita Valle

Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, urging the government to ensure just resolution on the “mistaken” arrest of journalist Margarita Valle

Margarita Valle was arrested and detained for 12 hours last 9 June 2019 by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police in Region 9 (PNP-CIDG-9) at the Laguindingan Airport. The police later apologized and downplayed it as a case of mistaken identity.

The Commission expresses dismay and concern that no action was done by the PNP to rectify its supposed mistake and to assure justice for Valle’s ordeal. This raises doubts on the justification of the “mistaken” arrest considering the current climate of impunity and the unceasing complaints of harassment and red-tagging. Given her background as a development worker and a journalist who is strongly vocal on the cause of the Indigenous Peoples, Valle’s case merit deeper investigation and proactive actions.

The Commission firmly believes that such grave blunder that impacts the fundamental rights of a person must not be taken lightly. The internal psychological and mental impact of the arrest continue to haunt Valle. It cannot be overemphasized that utmost due diligence is required in carrying out arrests. Hence, infractions must be dealt with accordingly by those who have the authority to reprimand or sanction to uphold the standards and integrity required of the institution that is expected to protect the people.

On the part of the Commission, we shall closely monitor the just resolution of the case she filed in Ombudsman. It is also included in the CHR’s national inquiry on the situation of human rights defenders. We hope that check and balance is fully demonstrated in resolving this case as well as similar cases to prevent any further “mistakes” that violate human rights.