GENEVA, Switzerland – Victims of torture under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration traveled all the way here to tell their stories of torture during the 42nd Session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT).
The UN human rights body is reviewing the Philippine government’s compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment.
Farmer Raymond Manalo and Pastor Berlin Guerrero of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) recounted their ordeals before the Committee at Palais Wilson.
Raymond and his brother Reynaldo were abducted on Feb. 14, 2006 in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, and were detained in three military camps and two safe houses. Raymond said they were subjected to various forms of torture during their 18-months of captivity.
Guerrero was abducted on May 27, 2007 in Biñan, Laguna allegedly by elements of the Naval Intelligence Security Forces. In an affidavit, the pastor said he was tortured in a safehouse before he was brought to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Camp Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite.
L-R Pastor Berlin Guerrero, Raymond Manalo and lawyer Edre Olalia arrive at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland to testify before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. (Photo courtesy of Karapatan)
Manalo and Guerrero joined other human rights organizations in a briefing to the ten-member Committee.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan secretary general presented Karapatan’s Joint Report with the Geneva-based World Organization against Torture (OMCT). She said many people “believe that torture has now become a covert national policy, together with extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other grievous rights violations resorted to by the State to quell the protests and dissent of the people.”
Karapatan documented 1,016 cases of torture from 2001 to March 2009.
The joint report also noted that attacks against human right defenders, church people and other social sectors are on the rise, with 20 cases of extra-judicial killings recorded beginning January this year.
Edre Olalia, Karapatan special legal consultant for UN mechanisms; and Trisha Garvida, Karapatan volunteer, were also part of the delegation of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch
The delegation appealed to the Committee to call the attention of the government to make real its commitments to uphold human rights; to stop torturing its citizens; and, to make the perpetrators accountable.(Bulatlat.com)