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Journalist to sue police for wrongful detention

MANILA (UCAN): “I will sue them,” Margarita Valle, said after she was arrested on June 9 having been supposedly “mistaken” for a wanted person in Mindanao, the southern Philippines, 
 
The columnist with the Davao Today newspaper, will sue the police for illegal detention, recounted that police officers ignored her appeals to call friends to verify her identity and held her incommunicado for 12 hours. She said that they also failed to read her her rights and refused a request to examine the warrant for her arrest.
 
“I presented my identification card when they accosted me but they ignored it,” Valle added.
 
“We need to fight back,” the veteran journalist said, adding, “Assertion is the key. Without assertion, they will run over us all.” 
 
“If they can do this to me, what can they do to others who are not journalists?” she asked. 
 
“I woke up today with the knowledge that I was so near death,” she said without elaborating.
 
Valle, who has reported for faith-based groups in Mindanao and been involved in their educational programmes for tribal youth, said that her experience was not an isolated incident because religious workers in Mindanao have become vulnerable to attacks due of their stand against human rights violations.
 
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines called the incident involving Valle was an “abduction attempt.”
 
“It’s not isolated,” agreed Dabet Panelo, secretary-general of the union. “Journalists in Mindanao have come under fire these last few years,” she said.
 
“We are not going to take all this in silence. We are now consulting lawyers on the proper legal steps,” she said.
 
The 61-year-old Valle was stopped and arrested by police and soldiers at the airport in Cagayan de Oro, in Misamis Oriental province, on suspicion of committing arson and multiple murder.
 
The warrant, however, was later found to be for another person.
 
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the city of Pagadian, where Valle was held, later admitted the mistake.

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