Police Questioned on Failure to Arrest Rights Worker’s Killers

The brother of Christopher L. Batan, a human rights worker slain in Mountain Province 15 years ago, has asked the Regional Trial Court to order Mountain Province police officials to explain their failure to issue a warrant of arrest against two of his killers.

BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Northern Dispatch
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – The brother of Christopher L. Batan, a human rights worker slain in Mountain Province 15 years ago, has asked the Regional Trial Court to order Mountain Province police officials to explain their failure to issue a warrant of arrest against two of his killers.

Cirilo Batan filed a manifestation last week asking the Baguio City RTC Branch 59 to order S/Insp. Gilbert Pablo Cawiding and S/Insp. Pedro Laganse Ganir to personally appear and explain in court why they could not issue the warrant of arrest for his brother’s killers.

Cawiding heads the municipal police in Sadanga, Mountain Province, where one of Batan’s alleged killers, Mateo Fanao a.k.a. Mathew Fanao, is a resident. Ganir is the Mountain Province police director.

Fanao is the present barangay (village) captain of Betwagan, Sadanga, Mountain Province. Records from both the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show that Fanao was elected as president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) of Sadanga and as vice-president of the ABC in the province. One of his co-accused, Kengeb Fayno, is also allegedly roaming around freely in the area.

Background of the case

In February 1993, Batan, then a human rights worker, was walking with colleague Mila Fanaang and Anglican Priest Eduardo Solang on their way to Betwagan to document human rights violations committed during the martial law years.

After they crossed the Chico River and were walking towards Betwagan, five members of the paramilitary Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) opened fire at the trio. Batan was instantly killed.

The case was first tried by a court in the Mountain Province but was transferred to this city, due to threats to the Batan family and their fellow tribesmen in Barlig, Mountain Province.

The five CAFGU members were identified in court as Agustin Agpawan, Bonifacio Chumacog, Fanao, Kengeb Fayno, Jr., and Panyong Rongan.

The Baguio RTC Branch 59 convicted Agpawan in 1995, and Chumacog after 10 years. Rongan surrendered last year and is now detained at the Baguio City Jail while undergoing trial. Fanao and Fayno remain at large.

No arrest

The older Batan said it is incredible that the police could not effect the arrest of Fanao when he is a barangay captain, now president of Sadanga’s ABC, and at the same time vice-president of the provincial ABC.

“He attends sessions and meetings in Mountain Province and it is impossible for police authorities not to effect the arrest,” he added in his manifestation as he said they had been working for the full realization of justice on his brother’s case.

The PNP has claimed that it failed to arrest Fanao as he was not in the address given as his residence, and that he was planning to surrender.

In an earlier interview, Police Regional Office in the Cordillera (PRO-COR) Director Eugene Martin said “Wanted” posters bearing Fanao’s picture are now posted in police stations throughout the Cordillera Region. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat.com

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