on the watch during the assault on Camp Bagong Diwa, March 15
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
BACK TO TOP ■
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2004 Bulatlat
■ Alipato Publications
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.