PAHRA Chairperson, Max M. de Mesa, challenged the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its Human Rights Office (HRO) to make prove their sincerity in their avowed policy “to uphold human rights in all military operations”.
“In fact, they have challenged themselves,” the Chairperson said, “when the AFP represented by its HRO head, Col. Domingo Tutaan, took a stand on absolute prohibition of torture.
This public declaration was done last June 22 in Imperial Suites, Quezon City, with Government, other Security Sector representatives and from the diplomatic community in attendance along with human rights groups from civil society. The event was convened through the partnership of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) and a human rights NGO, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA). It is also linked with the global campaign of The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). The UN resident coordinator, Ms. Jacqueline Badcock, sent a keynote message read by Ms. Tess Debuque.
PHRC Severo Catura signed the Government’s commitment for absolute prohibition of torture. This was to re-emphasize the Aquino administration’s determination to implement the Philippines obligation as State Party to the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), our domestic law RA 9745 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
“Chief of Staff Gen. Oban should be commended,” continued Mr. de Mesa, “for ordering Col. Tutaan ‘to revisit and review the investigation’ regarding UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and farmer, Manuel Merino.” The PAHRA Chairperson further said, “The obligations of the State on specific human rights violations do not end with the term of each administration. The obligations of the State demand accountability from each administration even of past violations and ensure the victims and their families justice, redress, reparation and rehabilitation.” He ended by saying: “It is the straight road to combat impunity.”
PAHRA has also submitted the case of the PICOP 6 to the AFP HRO since February this year. It is a 10-year old case of enforced disappearance of six contract workers of the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) in Agusan del Sur. The six were deprived of their liberty when Corporal Rodrigo Billones from the 62nd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, upon allegations that the workers were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). A soldier-witness testified that indeed the six were herded into the camp but were also beaten to death with iron pipes, later burned and buried.
Cases like this should not await decisions of the Supreme Court. The AFP HRO have to do a pro-active investigation with due diligence respectful of due process and presumption of innocence. “Substantive actions on the ground should follow and supersede rhetorics at the top,” de Mesa added.
26 June 2011
Ms. Rose Trajano
Acting Secretary General
Cellphone no. 0906-5531792
Ms. Candy Diez
Cellphone no. 0927-4012416
- [Isyung HR] Torture me not! (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Statement] Position paper on the national Monitoring Mechanism (NMM) – PAHRA (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Last week’s featured site] A society where Human Rights are fully enjoyed and respected by all – www.tfdp.net (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Event] “Nothing can justify Torture under any circumstances” – PAHRA (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Statement] Torture and the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – HRD-Pilipinas (hronlineph.wordpress.com)