ILOILO CITY – Human rights group Panay Alliance-Karapatan on Thursday joined the call of Baltazar Saldo for the Police Regional Office 6 and the Philippine Army to make a public apology for wrongly arresting him.

Saldo, a driver from Brgy. Sto. Angel, Dumalag, Capiz, was mistaken for a New People’s Army commander from Negros and was arrested on June 23, 2019.

He said an army officer from the 61st Infantry Battalion stepped on his head after he was made to drop to the ground before he was handcuffed. He was shocked when presented with four warrants of arrest during a press conference.

“More than a public apology, Saldo and his family deserve justice for what he suffered in the hands of the Police Regional Office 6 Intelligence Division and the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army,” said Reylan Vergara, secretary general of Panay Alliance-Karapatan.

“Saldo should be indemnified of the physical and moral damage he sustained,” he added.

The human rights group expressed willingness to facilitate legal assistance for Saldo.

“With such conduct of the police and military, no one is safe from arbitrary deprivation of liberty,” Vergara lamented. “Higher authorities should take proper disciplinary action to those responsible.”

Vergara said outgoing Police Region 6 Commander Gen. John Bulalacao who proudly announced Saldo’s arrest as an accomplishment at the last moment of his active duty, should be the first to admit his and his men’s blunder and make the public apology.

“The case of Saldo may be likened to the arrest of Roberto Elamparo, Ruperto Enar and Ramon Enar, aged farmers in Igbaras last March and that of Remie Diaz, also a farmer from Calinog last April,” said Vergara.

“In their case, army soldiers staged fake encounters to justify their arrest. Worse, they continue to languish in jail until now because of trumped up criminal complaints charged against them.”

“The life and liberty of innocent civilians should not be put at stake just because the police and army want to show some accomplishment,” said Vergara./www.panaytoday.net

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