Father of youth activist files petition for detained daughter's release

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) — The father of Alexandrea Pacalda, the 23-year-old activist allegedly abducted and illegally detained by military operatives, filed a habeas corpus petition at the Supreme Court Monday.

He asked the court to order Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. of the 2nd Infantry Division, Col. Arnold Gasalatan of the 85th Infantry Battalion (IB), Col. George Joel Lalaquil of the 201st Brigade, and 1st Lt. Randy Bobis, intelligence officer of the 85th IB to immediately release Pacalda to her family.

Arnulfo Pacalda said he is worried about his daughter's well-being as she has been detained at the 201st Brigade camp in Calauan, Quezon for nine days now.

"Nag-aalala po ako dahil sa sobrang tagal na po ng anak ko sa brigade. Hindi ko po alam ano ang pwedeng gawin sa kaniya. Sana po mapalaya po siya agad-agad. Nakakaawa ang kalagayan ng anak ko. Siya ay nagsisilbi sa mga magsasaka, iyun po ba ay kasalanan? Palayain na po nila ang aking anak," he pleaded.

[Translation: I am worried about her because she has been in the brigade for so long. I don't know what they'd do to her. She has been helping farmers, where's the crime in that? I hope they release my daughter soon.]

The military allegedly abducted Pacalda on September 14 and was initially brought to the 85th IB camp. Rights group Karapatan said she was later taken to the police station in General Luna and coerced to sign a certification that she voluntarily surrendered. She was then brought to the 201st Brigade where she remains under custody.

The militant group said Pacalda was also coerced to sign an affidavit of voluntary surrender on September 17. Karapatan lawyer Ma. Sol Taule said Pacalda was threatened with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives on September 21 as reprisal for speaking out that she was being held under custody without charges and that she was coerced to sign and present herself as a surrenderee.

The 201st IB denied the allegations. Capt. Benedick Alfonso G. Cagatin, the brigade's civil-military operations, told state news agency PNA that Pacalda was neither detained nor charged with any crime as she gave herself up voluntarily.