By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – In a supposed democracy, civilian authority is considered supreme over the military.
Such is not the case for detained rebel leader Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara who has been in solitary confinement and heavily guarded by soldiers since he was arrested in January last year for rebellion, murder and other charges despite a court order for his transfer.
Alcantara’s lawyer, Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), slammed what she called as the illegal military detention of her client. The PILC pressed anew for the immediate transfer of Alcantara to a civilian detention facility in a hearing, Sept. 4 at the Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The Intelligence Security Group of the Philippine Army has refused to comply with the May 19, 2012 order issued by the Gumaca RTC to transfer Alcantara from the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City to Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City, a civilian detention facility.
“It’s like martial law. The military can simply ignore any court order. We don’t see any reason for the delay of Alcantara’s transfer, yet the military refuses to follow civilian authority,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, said.
Recently, the PNP filed a motion for reconsideration saying it cannot detain Alcantara.
“This move of the police is obviously cooked up with the military to perpetually deny our client’s rights as a detainee,” Pastores said.
“Not only is it illegal for the military to keep the custody of our client, it has also continued to violate his rights since his arrest on January 4, 2011,” the woman lawyer said.
Pastores said the military deprives Alcantara of his rights under Republic Act 7438, which provides for the rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation.
“The military continues to impose unreasonable and unjustified restrictions on visits to him by his family and even by his lawyers. He is still blindfolded when he is brought out of his cell,” Pastores said.
Pastores said they were denied from getting a blood sample from Alcantara, but the military took a blood sample from him without his consent and while blindfold. “He is given food laced with chemicals, with pieces of broken glass or with fecal matter. These are just among the numerous violations of his rights while in military custody,” Pastores said.
The Gumaca RTC Resolution signed by Judge Maria Chona Pulgar-Navarro also cited that Alcantara “suffered inhuman treatment and unreasonable restrictions/impositions on his rights in the hands of his military custodians.” The Court also recognized that “there are serious threats to his health and security which can only intensify if his detention at the ISG detention facility in Fort Bonifacio continues.”
Navarro said Alcantara’s ‘transfer to a civilian detention facility is long overdue’.
Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the NDFP peace panel , attended the Sept. 4 court hearing and denounced the ill-treatment of Alcantara.
Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma, also a member of the NDFP panel, tried to visit Alcantara last Saturday but were denied.
In a forum organized by the Pilgrims for Peace, Sept. 2, Jalandoni said the arrest and detention of 14 NDFP consultants and staff, including Alcantara, violates the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).