Duterte perpetuates the policy and practice of torture - Karapatan

As the human rights organization commemorated the International Day Against Torture, Karapatan deplored the continuing policy and practice of torture used by State forces under Duterte.

“Duterte’s disregard for the most basic rights and freedoms and his promotion of the culture of impunity in the country have made it possible for the perpetuation of torture and other cruel and degrading treatment in the Philippines,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor.

“Many peasants have suffered inhuman forms of torture in the hands of the police and military. Persons who were illegally or arbitrarily detained were likewise subjected to physical and psychological torture,” he added, citing Karapatan’s documentation of at least 91 victims of torture and 1,265 victims of illegal arrests under Duterte.

Karapatan is currently handling the case of Janry Mensis, 22, and “Jerry” (not his real name), 17, both farmers in Compostela Valley and part-time small scale miners in Tagum City, Davao del Norte who were abducted, illegally detained, and brutally tortured by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from November 28 to December 6, 2017. Soldiers tried to burn them alive, leaving them for dead, but they escaped.

“The existence of an anti-torture law has not deterred State forces in violating rights of persons. If those in power endorse killings and other rights violations and do not punish the perpetrators, any law protecting human rights will be rendered inutile,” said Clamor.   

Karapatan cited the recent acquittal of police officers involved in the torture and illegal detention of security guard Rolly Panesa, as “a classic case of the failure of the government in making torturers in uniform accountable.” The organization also cited the continuing lack of court judgement on the case against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan by the mothers of disappeared activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, who were abducted on June 26, 2006 and brutally tortured by Palparan and his men.  

The organization joined relatives of detained peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and kin of political prisoners at the office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) today, in a protest action demanding the immediate release of Baylosis.  

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“Duterte has legitimized illegal arrests and the filing of trumped up criminal charges against peace advocates, human rights defenders, and political dissenters. Despite their innocence on the charges lodged against them, they were threatened to be killed, while in the custody of their captors and interrogators in uniform. They are subjected to worse conditions in jail,” Clamor stated. Currently, there are 503 political prisoners in the Philippines.   

“Rafael Baylosis and all political prisoners who suffered torture remain in jail, while those who violated their rights are scot-free. We demand the immediate release of Baylosis, considering there are court orders for his release already, and of all political prisoners. We demand the end to the policy and practice of torture,” Clamor concluded.  

For reference: Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, 0999-7721233

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580