“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict,” the UN convention states. “Torture cannot be justified as a means to protect public safety or prevent emergencies. Neither can it be justified by orders from superior officers or public officials. The prohibition on torture applies to all territories under a party’s effective jurisdiction, and protects all people under its effective control, regardless of citizenship or how that control is exercised.”
Another UN treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) upholds the right of individuals to physical integrity (against acts such as execution, torture, and arbitrary arrest) and to procedural fairness in law (rule of law, rights upon arrest, trial, basic conditions must be met when imprisoned, rights to a lawyer, impartial process in trial). The Philippines is also a signatory to the covenant.
The Philippine government also signed, along with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the umbrella organization of revolutionary groups in the Philippines including the CPP-NPA, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
This binds both the NDF and the government to abide by and comply with international instruments and conventions such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Geneva Conventions and its Protocols. Signed in March 1998, the CARHRIHL is considered as the first comprehensive agreement in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations between the government and the Communists.
“As a party to various international human rights instruments, the Philippine government is liable for acts of torture,” Enriquez of Karapatan told Bulatlat. Karapatan has documented 1,016 cases of torture perpetrated by state agents from 2001 to March 2009.
Enriquez also pointed out that the Philippine government has made public statements to the effect that it was serious in protecting human rights, citing the speech of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita before the United Nations Human Rights Council. In a speech last year, Ermita boasted that the Philippine government will soon ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).
OPCAT aims to establish a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
And yet Ermita, through the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) which he chairs, was the first to accuse Roxas of being in league with the communists to discredit the Arroyo regime. Ermita’s committee said Roxas’s abduction and torture may have been fabricated and stage-managed by the communists. (Bulatlat.com)