26 February 2010
Hard-pressed to substantiate its claims and accusations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has renewed its pressure and torture tactics to produce so-called “witnesses”.
Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) demanded the immediate release if not the immediate transfer to Camp Crame of the illegally detained community health workers as it learned of torture inflicted upon specific detainees and harassments that have extended to the families and relatives of the detained.
“It seems that officers of the 202nd Infantry Brigade and 2nd Infantry Division consider themselves above the law and regard torture as part of their standard operating procedure,” said Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.
The health group learned that some of the detainees were being taken out of their cells at night, brought elsewhere, and returned only in the morning after undergoing hours of tactical interrogation.
One female detainee was taken out around 1 am and returned only around 4 am. She was alone when taken. Another female detainee was threatened with rape. While being forced to admit membership to the New People’s Army, she was also made to choose between herself and her family (“pamilya mo o sarili mo ang masasaktan”) as threats of harm escalated.
One male detainee who was taken out twice already described the ordeal as “pinipiga at tinatakot” (“being squeezed and intimdated”).
“Is this how they produce their so-called witnesses?” asked Dr. Rivera.
HEAD also deplored the harassments, disguised as stringent measures, on those who wish to visit the detained.
“The AFP arbitrarily denies entry to relatives,” added Dr. Rivera. “Those they allow to enter are asked to fill up a bond paper with certain data requirements. However, the relatives are afraid that the information they provide will wind up being used in the psychological torture of their loved ones.
The young wife of one of the detainees was asked to describe her house, her route home, and her address every time she visited her husband. She felt like she was being stalked.
“Who protects the people against excesses of the military? What can the people do against such criminal behavior of state security forces?”
“By its arrogance, the AFP belittles the public outrage against its abuses, as well as the safeguards meant to protect citizens from State-sanctioned abuse. Thus, the AFP continues with its wanton disregard for human rights. This must stop immediately!”
Dr. Darby S. Santiago, Chair, HEAD
Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos, Vice-Chair, HEAD
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, Secretary-General, HEAD