Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 7      March 20 - 26, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











Web Bulatlat


(We encourage readers to dialogue with us. Email us your letters complaints, corrections, clarifications, etc.)

Join Bulatlat's mailing list



(Email us your letters statements, press releases,  manifestos, etc.)



For turning the screws on hot issues, Bulatlat has been awarded the Golden Tornillo Award.

Iskandalo Cafe


Copyright 2004 Bulatlat



Aftermath of ‘Bicutan massacre’
Police Accused of Torture

Darwisa Masud waited anxiously with her four-year old son to check on her husband, Sahid Masud, a suspected Abu Sayyaf detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan which the police assaulted March 15 to stop an alleged jail break attempt. When she finally saw him, she and her son could only cry while hugging him. His left eye was swollen from the punches inflicted on his face and his hands were blistered from hot water poured on them by the police.


Police on the watch during the assault on Camp Bagong Diwa, March 15

Photo by Aubrey Makilan

Relatives of slain suspected Abu Sayyaf members and wounded detainees, and non-government organizations have called for an independent investigation of the alleged “massacre” at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan.

In a press conference on March 19, Cosain Naga Jr., secretary general of Suara Bangsamoro Partylist, said that the medical mission conducted on March 18 by their group and human rights group Karapatan for the wounded inmates in Camp Bagong Diwa “led to our having substantial proof that the assault team wielded excessive use of violence against the detainees.”

Naga relayed that the detainees saw what was almost like a “massacre” against all of them. He added that according to the detainees, Special Action Force (SAF) operatives indiscriminately fired at inmates even when they were already faced down to the ground, replying “pare-parehas kayong mga Muslim!” (All of you Muslims are just the same!). A Japanese reporter who covered the incident, on the other hand, commented “it was a genocide.”

In a separate press conference in Sulu Hotel March 19, however, new Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Arturo Lomibao denied there had been overkill or excessive use of force by the assault team. He added that the assault was a consensus of the Crisis Management Team, headed by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Angelo Reyes, formed to solve the incident. On the other hand, Naga heard Reyes in the crisis center shouting, “Sige, banatan n’yo na yan!” (Go, hit them!).

Lomibao also said that the assault team only inflicted minimal casualty from a target of more than 50 persons to the actual 27 deaths among the detainees – 23 Muslims and four Christians.

Naga, however, argued that with more than 400 inmates detained at the CBD, “only 129 were suspected Abu Sayyaf elements, 73 of whom were illegally arrested and could be military fall guys following the military crackdown in Basilan last 2001 as ordered by President Gloria Arroyo.”

Jigs Clamor, spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), said the demands of the alleged ASG members – speedy trial, investigation of human rights violations, assurance that they will not bodily harmed, media coverage and food – were reasonable. He also questioned the alleged deliberate attempt of the government to close down the negotiation.

Pura Calleja, counsel of most of the suspected ASG detainees, earlier confirmed that there had been no negotiation after the supposed 5 p.m. press conference for the jail breakers until the assault at 9:15 a.m. of March 15.


Muslim leaders have denied planning any kind of retaliation on their side. As Imam (priest) Amil Andan said, their religion Islam means peace. But the police, quoting as source alleged Abu Sayyaf member “Boy Negro,” said the ASG is planning to seek revenge for their dead comrades.

Naga said the detainees told him that after the assault, “they received many blows, kicks and harsh remarks from SAF (Special Action Forces) while parading them almost naked, wearing only briefs, and leaving them under the scorching heat of the sun for almost two hours.”

With the condition of the remaining detainees at CBD now, Clamor said that the only revenge being waged is on the part of the police.

The isolation, physical assault, and other similar acts, Clamor told Bulatlat, is a violation of the detainees’ rights as arrested and detained persons, based on Republic Act 7438. 

Physical assault

Darwisa Masud waited anxiously with her four-year old son to check on her husband, Sahid Masud, a suspected Abu Sayyaf detained at CBD. When she finally saw him, she and her son could only cry while hugging him. Sahid’s hands had blisters because of the hot water allegedly poured on them by the police, while his left eye was swollen from receiving face blows.

Darwisa told Bulatlat that her husband was one of the six alleged suspected jailbreak plotters who shot the BJMP guards of the SICA Bldg. A trustee detainee reportedly identified her husband.

Darwina said that another detainee’s wife warned her to take “extra care.” Police elements have reportedly been asking for her whereabouts. But instead of fearing for their lives, Darwina said, “mabuti pa ngang patayin na nila kaming mag-anak para matapos na ang paghihirap naming” (It is better if kill our family now so our suffering will end).

Aside from Sahid, other detainees are allegedly being held in bartolina or isolation: Rajmar Jul, Munid Aza, Omar Abubakar, Alzia Jandul, and Ismael Bas. This was reported by Karapatan’s Aya Reyes, who was with the medical mission on March 18 with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) doctors and other health and human rights workers.

Reyes said that the detainees bore bruises on their bodies. She said Jul himself confirmed the torture they suffered during interrogation. She said Jul even demonstrated how a police officer would move his hand across his neck which signifies death if the detainees would not admit belonging to the plotters. Reyes described Jul as having wounds on his chin and bruises on the face from being hit with armalite rifle.

Meanwhile, the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) said there are more than a hundred wounded inmates needing medical attention.

One of them is Bimbas Abubakar who was hit in the head with a bullet that caused hematoma (rapid blood clotting in the brain). He also has bruises and an almost five-centimeter cut on his foot.

Clamor also said that the detainees were fed only lunchtime of March 16. At present, he said, about 30-35 detainees are sharing a two-by-three square meter cell. Bulatlat



© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.