End the Policy of Torture and Human Rights Violations; Stop Oplan Bantay Laya!

The human rights organization, Karapatan, together with the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), Hustisya! and the families of the Desaparecidos, today observes the International Day In Solidarity with Victims of Torture with a protest action in front of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). NICA IS one of the government agencies that plans the notorious Oplan Bantay Laya, a counter-insurgency program that victimizes Filipinos.

Only recently, on June 21, 2009, Obito Marquez, an activist, was abducted by the police in Taguig, and on June 25, Police Supt. Roberto L. Rosales announced that the Police bagged Obito as top rebel with a bounty on his head. But up to now, Obito has not been shown to his family.

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We condemn the continuing policy of torture, extrajudicial executions and disappearances by state security forces in this so-called counter-insurgency program. The government cannot belie the testimonies of survivors Raymond Manalo, Melissa Roxas and Berlin Guerrero, and so many others that gave details how the military is involved in their torture and the torture of other individuals. The government should also be held accountable for the psychological torture of political detainees, among them Elizabeth Principe and Eduardo Serrano and the torture and the sexual abuse of political prisoner Angelina Bisuña Ipong.

Today, June 26, 2009 also marks the third year of the abduction and disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, farmer Manuel Merino and NDFP consultant and staff Prudencio Calubid, Celina Palma, Gloria Soco and Ariel Beloy.

Manalo testified that he witnessed members of the military tie Sherlyn Cadapan to a ceiling post, beat her up and force her to admit that she was an NPA member while being sexually molested, too.

Despite the fact that the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Covenant Against Torture, the regime failed miserably in its compliance to the said Covenant, as evidenced by the recent concluding observations of the 42nd session of the Committee against Torture that reviewed the Philippine human rights record in April 2009. The Committee had a scathing conclusions on the government for its failure to implement the provisions prescribed by the covenant and end the atrocities and impunity.

The Alliance expresses its strongest condemnation of the recent promotion granted to the human rights violators who figured in the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos, namely, Lt. Col. Noel Clement, Lt. Col. Mequiades Feliciano and Lt. Col. Edison Caga to colonels. Clement was former commander of Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion based in Bulacan while Caga headed the 69th Infantry Battalion. By this action, Gloria Arroyo proves once again that she’s a stalwart for human rights violators and torturers.

We lament that, instead of probing deeper the participation of armed personnel in the abductions, they are given promotions, showing that the regime is not sincere in doing what it can to give justice to the victims of human rights violations.

We reiterate that the government should act to end the practice of torture, enforced disappearances, and other forms of human rights violations. We challenge the government to uphold its compliance to the treaties it signed; to immediately punish all perpetrators of these violations, render justice to victims and provide them protection. We, likewise, call on the government to finally implement the Anti-Torture law.###

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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. It was established in 1995.

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