Camp Crame probes student mauling

Posted on September 14, 2012

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EVEN though Benedict Peniai returned to Papua New Guinea, the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas will continue its investigation of his violent arrest by members of the Cebu City Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

Regional Director Casimiro Madarang III of the Bureau of Immigration confirmed that Peniai, who faces charges for resisting arrest and disobedience to authority, flew to Papua New Guinea at 3:47 a.m. last Wednesday.

The headquarters of the Philippine National Police ordered its own inquiry of the conduct of the SWAT members.

Director of Internal Affairs Servive (IAS), Director Gen. Alexander Roland said Camp Crame ordered the investigation of PO1 Philip James Tanza and PO2 Bradford Lavandero.

This can proceed even without a complainant, explained Senior Insp. Felix Bihay, of the PNP’s Regional IAS.

Madarang said the record of Peniai’s departure was not updated immediately on their system.

Peniai posted P2,000 bail in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) on a charge of case of resistance and disobedience to authority last Tuesday.

“The case filed (filed by Peniai) will still continue. We can proceed motu proprio for documentation, to comply with the State’s obligation to monitor all forms of human rights violation,” said CHR-7 chief investigator Primo Cadampog .

Cadampog said even without a “complaining party” CHR-7 will conduct its inquiry on its own initiative.

No hold departure

Madarang said they could not prevent Peniai from leaving the country because he held a valid passport and student visa. There was also no hold departure order against him.

Madarang said he believes that Peniai will eventually return to Cebu to continue his studies.

BI records show that Peniai has a 22-year-old sister also studying in the University of Southern Philippines.

At least 29 Papua New Guinea students are studying in the university.

Madarang said the students have valid visas which they just approved this month.

Adonis Wagas, director of the Students Affairs Office (SAO) of USP, said he hasn’t received any reports about foreign students leaving school after the incident.

Peniai has not filed criminal charges against the SWAT members.

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

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

Peniai’s lawyer Fritz Lastimoso said they were open to a settlement of the case. /Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Reporter with report from Chito O. Aragon

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