Marine captain faces punitive action for beating polio victim PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 December 2011 17:19

It’s been a week since a drunken captain in the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 here and his men beat up a helpless 33 year-old polio victim, fired at house and a lamppost but the victim and indignant local Muslim and Christian communities are still awaiting their unit’s punitive action against them.

The commanding officer of MBLT 7, Lt. Col. Dorotheo Jose Jalandoni, said over the weekend they are now initiating          investigation on the misbehavior of his subordinate-officer, Captain Rey Torres and assured he would be punished.

However, local sectors want the process done expeditiously to prevent any possibly adverse effect of the indiscretion of Torres and his companions to the government’s confidence-building measures with Muslim sectors to complement the cordiality of the government’s separate peace overtures with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.

“Don’t worry, on top of the punishment, mare-relieve din si Rey,” was what Jalandoni said in text message yesterday.

The chairman of the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center, lawyer Anwar Malang, has offered free legal assistance to Christopher Ballezas, 33, the paraplegic Torres mauled past 10:00 p.m. on Nov. 28 in Bagua area, not far from a roadside Marine security post guarded by a team from the MBLT-7.

“If he wants to pursue a criminal case against them, we can help him do so,” Malang said.

Members of various press clubs in Central Mindanao, the local chapters of the National Union of Journalists and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas are to meet on Wednesday to discuss the case of Torres and his men who got implicated in the atrocity.

A long-time Muslim journalist, Ali Macabalang, director of the Bureau of Public Information in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and his subordinate-information officers have condemned the incident, branding it as extremely devastating for the Armed Forces’ confidence-building measures with local Moro communities.

“We don’t need such kind of officer in an area where the Philippine government has a peace process with local inhabitants. He should be sent to Iraq or Afganistan,” Macabalang said in an interview with Catholic station dxMS here the other day.

In inter-active email-groups, officials of various peace advocacy groups, some of them assisted by international humanitarian organizations, have urged the commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps, Major Gen. Rustico Guerrero, to immediately intervene.

The incident involving Torres and his men, according to witnesses, was related to a shooting incident near an auto shop where Ballezas works as painter.

Torres and his men arrived at the scene to respond and vented their ire on Ballezas and his uncle, shop owner  Hector Crecencio, just for asserting they knew nothing about the incident and for their not being able to identify the gunman.

Torres strangled Ballezas before he pinned him down on the ground after punching him in his right and left cheeks and on his chest.

As witnesses approached, Torres ordered his men to fire their guns on the shop and at a lamppost to obscure the scene. — Felix Ostrea