By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA CRUZ, Laguna – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Batangas Spokesperson Erlindo “Lino” Baez was tortured “physically and mentally” by state agents shortly after he was arrested on an illegal possession of firearms and explosives charge, according to rights group Tanggol Batangan.
According to the group, Baez’s family was able to locate Baez at the Tanauan Municipal Police Station, October 8, two days after his arrest. Baez recounted what was done to him, which included “beatings, pressing the barrel of a gun to his chest, and applying a chemical to his blindfold which made him nauseous.” Baez was also frequently interrogated by state forces, insisting that he was a top-ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Republic Act 9745, or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, prohibits acts of physical and mental torture, including blindfolding, systematic beating, “threatening a person(s) … with bodily harm”, “the use of psychoactive drugs to change the perception, memory, alertness, of will of a person”, “deliberately prohibiting the victim to communicate with any member of his/her family”, among others.
“This is counter to what the police said in Camp Soledad Dolor [in Candelaria, Quezon province] that Baez and Capareño were unharmed,” Tanggol Batangan said in a statement.
Baez and Capareño’s families began their search in Quezon, which led them to the headquarters of the First Quezon Provincial Mobile Force Company.
The visit, however, proved to be fruitless, when they were informed that Baez and Capareño were not in the camp despite police initially claiming that they were there. The families and members of the paralegal team were also red-tagged while they were trying to get inside the camp.
The team eventually managed to visit Anakpawis Batangas Coordinator Wilfredo Capareño despite continuous delays by the police. Following their visist to Camp Solded Dolor, Capareño’s family was told to go to the police station in Sariaya, Quezon on October 8.
Sariaya police confirmed that Capareño was being held in custody and that he underwent inquest proceedings. Capareño was arrested without a warrant but is being tagged as “co-accused” of Baez. A police report claims that Capareño was in possession of a hand grenade at the time.
The police reversed its statement the next day and insisted that Capareño was not in the Sariaya police station. Police gave the family and rights advocates unclear answers on Capareño’s whereabouts or condition, ranging from “a need to follow health protocols” to “return the next day.”
According to Tanggol Batangan, the Sariaya police have “uttered every lie in an attempt to deny Capareño his legal rights to due process.” Tanggol Batangan also stated that Capareño’s family and the paralegals assisting them faced intimidation from police officers surrounding them during negotiations.
Capareño’s family was able to visit Capareño on October 10, or four days after his arrest.
Tanggol Batangan is condemning the police for the situation of the two activist leaders. “We continue to call for the immediate dismissal of the trumped-up charges and release of Lino Baez and Willy Capareño,” they said in a statement.