By: Jennifer P. Rendon
THE Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division vowed to run after individuals using its name for illegal purposes.
Captain Cenon Pancito III, 3rd ID spokesperson, said they will file criminal charges for violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (Usurpation of Authority or Official Functions) against persons who will misrepresent themselves as Armed Forces personnel.
Pancito’s statement came in the heels of allegations by a progressive group leader that they were harassed by state operatives.
Wilfredo Panuela, 65, leader of Kaisog ukon Katilingban sang mga Imol sa Syudad (KAISOG), claimed two men tried to abduct him at his home in Barangay Bitoon, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Panuela was allegedly preparing lunch on July 7, 2019 when two motorcycle-riding men in civilian clothes were seen outside his house.
Panuela said he went out and talked to the two who initially refused to identify themselves.
Later, residents circled the men and brought them at the village hall, who then identified themselves as Art Diaz, a National Bureau of Investigation agent, and Rey Gomez of the Philippine Army.
But after documentation at the police station, Diaz and Gomez were released.
Pancito said that when he heard about the report, he immediately checked with the roster of troops of the Philippine Army.
“But we haven’t found any Rey Gomez on our list. We have also sent a query to lower units but also got negative result,” he said.
Pancito said that he personally checked with the 3rd ID headquarters for any operational plan but no order was released for such purpose. In fact, no other order was issued on that day.
“It also further confuses us since never in the 3rd ID history that we operated together with the NBI. We usually do joint operation with the PNP,” he said.
But still, Pancito said they tried to extend help to complainants in identifying this “Rey Gomez.”
“We also took into consideration the faces of those who allegedly harassed them and sent the information to lower units,” he said.
However, no one was able to identify Rey Gomez.
“We have tried extending our hand with the complainants but they refused our offer,” he said.
Pancito said they are alarmed that someone would use the name of the Phil. Army for such purposes.
“That’s why, we also wanted to know who these men are. We’ve been building our name for so long and we don’t want to be tarnished because of such allegations,” he said.
Pancito said that when he heard the news, the first thing that came to his mind was the query on whom the complainant was.
“Una kong tinanong kung sino siya. Kahit mga lower unit commanders were asking kung sino ‘yan,” he admitted.
Unlike other groups, Pancito said they’re not familiar with KAISOG.
“That’s why he’s not an interest to us. As a progressive group leader, we don’t really know of him until now,” he said.
Pancito also stressed they don’t operate against progressive group members since they don’t take arms.
Still, Pancito said they are open to working with Panuela and KAISOG to identify the “Rey Gomez” they are accusing of harassment.