CHR dismisses one complaint, archives another for failure to present witness

April 23, 2009 11:04 am 

DUMAGUETE CITY, April 22 -– Special Investigator Jess Cañete of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday dismissed an alleged abduction complaint filed against the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army due to lack of merit.

At the same time, Cañete also had to archive a related complaint filed by the militant human rights group, KARAPATAN-Central Visayas, for failure of the latter to present a witness to substantiate claims that two farmers were allegedly killed by soldiers of the 79th IB.

Both complaints, which were initially filed before the CHR Region 7 office but forwarded to Cañete, are in relation to the deaths of Ronel Raging and Julito Quirante, both residents of Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

The bodies of Raging and Quirante were exhumed last month from a shallow grave in the mountains of Sta. Catalina.

Cañete said he had to dismiss a complaint filed by Alejandra Quirante, wife of Julito Quirante, that 79th IB soldiers allegedly picked up her son-in-law last month, due to inconsistencies that he found in the course of his investigation.

“I cannot proceed with investigating such complaint that is based merely on hearsay”, he said.

Alejandra had alleged that her son-in-law, Noli Bendersin, was arrested by soldiers last March 26 at his home in Sitio Lukdo, Barangay San Francisco in Sta. Catalina and was later released after he was made to sign some documents that cleared the military of involvement in the death of Julito Quirante.

But, according to Cañete, he found inconsistencies in the date of the execution of Bendersin’s affidavit on March 20, and the date during which he was purportedly picked up by the soldiers on March 26.

He also lamented that if the complainants could travel to Cebu to file their complaint before the regional office of the CHR, then there is no reason that they could not appear before his office in Dumaguete.

On the other hand, Cañete also had to archive the complaint filed by the KARAPATAN-Central Visayas against members of the 79th IB after the group failed to appear before his office on Tuesday to present their witness.

The KARAPATAN-Central Visayas had earlier sought an investigation on the deaths of Raging and Quirante, whom they said were victims of summary execution allegedly by the 79th IB.

Cañete said that Vimarie Arcilla, KARAPATAN-Central Visayas spokesperson, had told him they had a witness by the name of Zosimo Pantolyano, who would testify that the respondents had killed both farmers.

However, on Tuesday, neither Arcilla nor Pantolyano or any KARAPATAN representative had appeared at the CHR office in Dumaguete as scheduled.

Cañete said that he would only reopen the complaint once the complainants can present to him a witness or witnesses.

He expressed surprise that Arcilla “could not locate” Pantolyano when both are believed to be acquainted with each other.

The CHR investigator said that last March 3, 2009, both of them were with a group that went to Barangay Milagrosa in Sta. Catalina town, and had even written down their names in a visitors’ logbook. (PNA)

DCT/JFP

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