Press Release
September 5, 2013


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President today said that the officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have a lot of explaining to do on why they handed a P5.6 million reward for the capture of a man whom the military had tagged as a communist rebel only to be cleared later on by the courts as an innocent victim of "mistaken identity."

Benjamin Mendoza was captured by the AFP last year as supposedly the chief in Southern Tagalog of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), but the Court of Appeals recently handed down a decision, saying that he was actually Rolly Mira Panesa, a security guard and not a high-ranking officer of the CPP-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said that those responsible for the operations that caused irreparable damage to the innocent victim in addition to a large amount of government money being given away to fake informants must be held accountable for their crime which human rights group Karapatan slammed as an "organized racket."

AFP and police officials bragged that the capture of the CPP-NPA alleged top cadre in the Southern Tagalog region has led to the neutralization of "wanted rebels and terrorists" in the area during a widely-publicized event were 10 informants allegedly responsible for the tip-offs received a windfall of P19.25 million.

Pimentel said it was a waste of government money as he questioned the policy being used by the AFP in its the rewards system, saying it is open to abuse that he asked top military officials to review and adopt new measures to prevent a repeat of the similar incidents in the future.

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