Is Papua New Guinea student still in Philippines?

Posted on September 13, 2012

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Mauling victim Benedict Peniai, shown here leaving the Palace of Justice the other day went home to Papua New Guinea, says his lawyer. (LITO TECSON)

DID student Benedict Peniai (not Penini as earlier reported), who faces charges for resisting arrest and disobedience to authority, leave the country for his native Papua New Guinea yesterday?

Peniai’s lawyer Fritz Lastimosa said his client left the country at past 5 a.m. yesterday to “unwind” and consider his future after he was mauled by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) officers in barangay Banilad, Cebu City last Sunday.

Peniani posted P2,000 bail the other day and filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights.

However, he has not yet decided yet about filing criminal charges against PO2 Bradford Lavandero and PO1 Philip James Tanzan.

The regional Bureau of Immigration (BI) said they had no records of Peniai’s departure.

BID-7 Regional Director Casimiro Madarang said their records showed that Peniai’s student visa is extended until Oct. 11 this year. He said the student arrived as a “temporary visitor” in Cebu last June 13.

Peniai applied for a student visa last July 31, 2012. Madarang said they have yet to check Peniai’s records for his pending student visa application.

Madarang said Peniai did right by filing a case against the police officers. “If Peniai didn’t overstay in the country, he is still protected with our laws,” Madarang said.

Regional Director Elias Balawag of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Central Visayas (DFA-7) said the Papua New Guinea Embassy will intervene on behalf of Peniai’s case.

Video footage from ABS-CBN showed police officers Tanzan and Lavandero along with taxi driver Giovanni Gatib kicking and striking Peniani, who was in a drunken range after being beaten up by fellow Papua New Guinea friends during a drinking spree.

The TV video of the violent arrest prompted the relief of the two SWAT members and the CHR 7’s initial comment against “inhuman” conduct of the policee.

Lastimosa said they were open to a settlement of the case.The CHR -7 is investigating the case. /Reporter Rhea Ruth V. Rosell and Correspondent Chito Aragon

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