Torture is (still)
alive and well in the Philippines
Even as the Asian Human Rights Commission
condemned in a statement the continued use of torture on prisoners in the
a suspected guerrilla leader in Bicol was reported to have been tortured
by his military captors.
Forty-five year old
New People’s Army (NPA) leader Elmer Osila reportedly uses the names Ka
Israel, Ka Rolly and Ka Ador and heads the NPA Guerrilla Front Committee
79 operating the Bicol region. At 3 p.m. of June 19, soldiers arrested him
at a checkpoint in the boundary of Camalig and Guinobatan towns in Albay
province, about 530 kms south of Manila.
Osila has four
outstanding warrants of arrest for murder and kidnapping charges in
Sorsogon, another province in the region. A former rebel positively
identified him at the checkpoint and Osila did not resist arrest. Members
of the Army’s 901st Brigade under the 9th Infantry
Division took custody of the prisoner. He was taken to the 65th Infantry
Battalion headquarters in Barangay Tula-Tula, Ligao City.
Later, he was turned
over to the Philippine National Police provincial command.
But while he was
under military custody, Osila said he was subjected to various forms of
physical torture. He also said he was arrested on June 18, not June 19 as
claimed by the military.
Investigators of the
Commission on Human Rights – Bicol confirmed Osila’s complaints after they
personally checked on his condition June 21.
CHR-Bicol chief investigator, and Rey Matosiaos, CHR investigator, said
Osila bore several torture marks. Garcia was quoted in media reports
saying, "He had a large green-and-violet-colored hematoma on the right
portion of his back; there were also visible depressions in the spaces
between the fingers of his right hand, and there were black spots on the
back of his left hand, due to electrocution."
Maj. Jose Broso,
commander of the military’s 2nd Civil Relations Division denied
the charges. "The Philippine Army does not practice torture,” he said.
Lt. Col. Edmundo
Malabanjot is the commanding officer of the 65th IB.
International Day in support of victims of torture
Meanwhile, a Hong
Kong based non-government organization monitoring human rights issues in
Asia said in a statement that torture is “practiced with impunity and
without fear of prosecution” in the Philippines.
The Asian Human
Rights Commission (AHRC) said on June 23 that in the Philippines, “torture
[is] practiced with impunity and without fear of prosecution” despite the
prohibition of its use stipulated in the country’s 1987 constitution and
the country’s participation to the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
government’s failure to criminalize the practice of torture has virtually
shielded the police, military and other public officials from prosecution
for ordering or torturing others, thus creating an environment of
impunity,” the statement said. “Although the government’s law enforcement
agencies have denied the practice of torture by their ranks, reality in
the country suggests otherwise.”
The statement also
said that “in most cases, allegations of torture are not investigated.”
And even if the victims intends to seek legal remedies, the statement
added, there is no law against torture in the country yet.
It further said that
“forced confessions obtained from suspects through the use of torture,
instead of investigations with the aid of scientific methods of gathering
evidence, remain the usual practice by law enforcers.”
AHRC called on the
Philippine government to criminalize the practice of
torture without delay.
AHRC issued the
statement in the observance of the United Nation International Day in
Support of the Victims of Torture which falls on June 26.
Similar reports have
been issued by the Amnesty International, an international rights watchdog
based in London. Bulatlat
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2004 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.