SC issues writ of habeas corpus in case of abducted activist forced to ‘admit’ ties to NPA

The Supreme Court (SC) has issued the writ of habeas corpus in the case of youth activist Alexandrea Pacalda, who was allegedly abducted by the military and forced to sign a confession that she was a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel.

In a recent 4-page resolution, the SC 2nd Division ordered the respondents from the military to make a “return” of the writ and explain why Pacalda was detained since September 14, when she was arrested without a warrant.

In directing the submission of a “return,” the respondents were required to state the detainee’s whereabouts and the cause of detention.

The SC also referred the case to the Court of Appeals to conduct hearings and decide within 10 days if Pacalda is entitled to the full privileges of the writ and should be ordered released.

The petition for the writ of habeas corpus was filed by Pacalda’s father Arnulfo, who claimed the military forced her, him, and his son Jessar to sign documents claiming she had voluntarily surrendered.

The petition stated that Alexandrea signed the affidavits after being deprived of food and sleep, and being subjected to mental torture.

Named as respondents were BGen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., commander of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army; Col. Arnold Gasalatan, commanding officer of the 85th Infantry Battalion; Col. George Joel Lalaquil, officer-in-charge of the 201st Brigade; Capt. Benedict Alfonso Cagatin, civil-military officer of the 201st Brigade; and 1st Lt. Randy Bobis, intelligence officer of the 85th Infantry Battalion.

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