Noriel Rodriguez, a member of Anakbayan, was tortured for 10 days by people he claimed to be soldiers. The soldiers, he said, threatened to harm his family and mutilate his genitals. He was released only after he was forced to sign papers stating that he was a rebel returnee.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — A youth activist who claimed to have been abducted and tortured by the military has sought the protection of the Supreme Court.
Noriel Rodriguez, through the help of his legal counsel Rex Fernandez, filed a petition for writ of amparo on December 7. Named respondents are President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Victor S. Ibrado, Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa, Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit and several military officials of the 5th Infantry Division and 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
By filing the petition, Rodriguez is asking the court to afford him protection. He has also asked the high court to grant him and his family Protection Orders, an Order of Inspection of Place, and Production of Documents and Writ of Habeas Data.
In this exclusive interview with Bulatlat, Noriel Rodriguez recounts his ordeal in the hands of the military.
Fernandez said the probability that the Supreme Court would grant a writ of amparo for the youth activist is good. “The military admitted that they held Noriel in custody.” Moreover, Fernandez said, “How could they claim that Noriel voluntarily surrendered when he had clear signs of torture?”
On Sept. 6, while riding a tricycle, Rodriguez, a member of Anakbayan, was forcibly taken by five armed men in civilian clothes in Gonzaga town, Cagayan province. His hands were tied with a nylon rope and he was brought to a vehicle without a license plate parked nearby, he told Bulatlat. Two of the men sat on him, forcing him to lie down. He was asked questions and when he refused to respond, a gun was pointed to his head.
Rodriguez said he was taken to a camp of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. He said he saw soldiers in uniform with the name of the military unit. Several hours later, he was brought to a van, was blindfolded and transferred somewhere else.
“They were accusing me of being a member of the NPA [New People’s Army],” Rodriguez said. “They said I am a rebel returnee. Why did they have to abduct me if I voluntarily surrendered to the military?”
“I thought they would kill me. I thought I could no longer see my family,” Rodriguez told Bulatlat in an interview.
After 10 days of torture and forcing him to sign papers stating that he was a rebel returnee, he was released by the military.
“Up to now, I feel threatened. I know they continue to monitor my activities,” Rodriguez said. He said he can identify the soldiers who forced him to join the military operations.
“Every day, they beat me up,” Noriel said. “They told me they would kill me and my family. I was forced to sign papers thinking they would stop hurting me.” The papers, he said, indicate that he is a member of the NPA and that the military did not torture him. It also identified him as a military asset.
“They even showed me a picture of my mother,” Noriel said. “I knew it was a stolen shot because the picture is blurred.” His torturers also threatened to mutilate his genitals.