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PHILIPPINES – Rights group challenges new president to run after torturers

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Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and relatives of political prisoners/detainees join the other members of UATC or the United Against Torture Coalition Philippines and the freedom from torture advocates worldwide in commemorating the International Day in Support of Torture Victims by challenging P-Noy (President-elect Benigno S. Aquino III) to release all political prisoners/detainees who are most often also victims of torture and to prosecute their torturers.

“We celebrate the¬†criminalization of¬†a gross human rights violation such as torture through the Republic Act¬†9745 or¬†the “Anti-Torture Act” after decades of lobby and campaigns, but we also¬†grieve¬†that despite its passage torture still remains a practice among the¬†Armed¬†Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” Emmanuel¬†Amistad,¬†Executive Director of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines stated.

“In¬†fact TFDP documented the¬†torture of¬†4 Dumagats in Dingalan, Aurora just a few weeks after PGMA signed RA9745¬†in¬†November 10, 2009.¬† Worse is that the¬†incident happened during the Human Rights Week 2009 celebration when the¬†military illegally arrested and tortured the four victims, forcing them¬†to admit¬†involvement with the rebel group New Peoples’ Army (NPA),” Amistad¬†added.

“Then the most recent case¬†was the¬†Illegal arrest and torture of Hilo Idlao Aytag, 38 years old, of¬†Panaytayan,¬†Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro, a member of the Mangyan tribe. He was¬†tortured by¬†members of the 4th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army¬†to¬†force him to disclose his alleged membership to the rebel group New¬†Peoples’¬†Army (NPA). The incident took place on March 12, 2010.”

“Agents¬†of the state¬†continue in¬†using torture with impunity to extract confessions and punish political¬†offenders,¬†human rights defenders, suspected rebels and even ordinary civilians¬†despite¬†the law under PGMA’s claimed legacy of defeating insurgents,” he¬†continued.

TFDP records show that there¬†are 585¬†documented victims of torture under President Arroyo’s term.¬† There¬†are 3,275 victims of illegal arrests¬†and detention and a total of 271 political prisoners and political¬†detainees¬†languishing in jails nationwide as of June 15, 2010.

“Now, under¬†the incoming¬†P-Noy¬†administration, we cannot help but reiterate our ardent call for justice¬†for¬†all victims of torture.¬† With immediate¬†implementation of RA 9745, P-Noy must prosecute torturers and all human¬†rights¬†violators.¬† We expect P-Noy to be¬†different from PGMA by breaking impunity in human rights violations.¬†We¬†demand that P-Noy release all political¬†prisoners and run after their torturers,” He said.

Lastly Amistad challenge P-Noy to sincerely declare zero tolerance for torture and torturers under his leadership and that no one shall be subjected to torture in his administration and that violators of human rights will be jailed accordingly.

TFDP¬†commemorates the¬†torture victims’¬†day with fellow advocates through the UATC’s annual “Basta! Run Against¬†Torture¬†or BRAT IV”. The run starts from CHR at 7:00 am and ends at Bantayogngmga¬†Bayani in Quezon Avenue¬†on June 25, 2010.

(Source: Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, 25 June 2010)