February 26, 2010
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today slammed Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia for allowing the continuous interrogation, harassment and psychological torture of the 43 health workers detained in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.
The statement stemmed from fresh reports from family members that some detainees have been subjected to prolonged questioning over the past few days. Two of the detainees were being forced to get new lawyers appointed by the military. They were also forced to execute new affidavits claiming that they were members of the New People’s Army.
Valentin Paulino and Ramon dela Cruz were among those being forced to admit their membership in the NPA. Reports from other detainees indicate that they were taken out of their detention cells the previous day and were subjected to several hours of grueling interrogation.
“We hold Gen. Jorge Segovia and Col. Aurelio Baladad responsible for the continuing torture of these health workers. The AFP is desperately trying to secure confessions from the detainees amid snowballing outrage over the arrest and detention of the 43 health workers. The AFP thinks that by securing these extrajudicial confession, it can justify the illegal arrest and detention of the 43,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The AFP’s total disregard for the rights of the detainees, including the non-derrogable right against torture, shows that the military establishment’s utter contempt for the rule of law. The AFP thinks it is above the law. We will make sure that those officials responsible will face the legal consequences of their actions,” Reyes said.
Adoracion Paulino , mother of Valentin, recalled her son saying to her during a visit to Camp Capinpin that he was being tortured physically and psychologically. This revelation came during a dialogue with Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Leila de Lima on Feb. 25.
“They are torturing me. They are torturing even my mind,” Adoracion recalled her son saying.
Lawyers led by Atty. Romeo Capulong of the Public Interest Law Center and the National Union of Peoples Lawyers yesterday filed a complaint before the CHR, seeking the commission’s help in probing the gross human rights abuses committed against Paulino and 42 others.
On February 11, military and police officials presented Paulino to the media as a “communist rebel” appealing to his comrades to return to the fold of the law. The AFP was considering him as their “state witness”.
Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said that Paulino has since retracted his claims during the February 11 AFP press conference. He has executed an affidavit to this effect, according to Olalia, who personally spoke with Paulino and witnessed his execution of the affidavit.
“They have violated everything they could violate. Our clients are being harassed everyday because the AFP thinks they can get away with these gross violations of the Constitution. These illegal acts are being condoned or sanctioned by the highest officials of the land, from the Commander-in-Chief and the AFP Chief of Staff,” said Olalia, who is currently the acting secretary-general of NUPL.
The lawyers of the 43 said that they are prepared to take legal action against the camp commander and the custodians of the 43 for their continuing violations of the rights of the detainees.
Lawyers believe that the 43 should be removed from the military camp and transferred to a civilian facility, if only to end their continuing torture at the hands of their captors.