[Urgent Appeal] updated information regarding the situation of Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid -TFDP

UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL

Abdul Khan Balinting Ajid photo by Bantay Ceasefire

Dear Friends,

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), writes to inform you about the updated information regarding the situation of Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, a native of a Yakan tribe who was arrested and was severely tortured in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province, island of Mindanao. He was arrested on July 23, 2011 at about 5:30 in the morning. The alleged perpetrators were members of Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) belonging to 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario.

VICTIM Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, 41 years old, married
DATE OF INCIDENT July 23, 2011 at about 5:30 a.m.
PLACE OF INCIDENT Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province

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UPDATED INFORMATION:

In a joint resolution issued by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO), dated 16 January 2013 the dispositive portion of the Joint Resolution reads:

“WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that respondents SGT. GEORGE AWING, SSGT. ELMER R. MAGDARAOG, AND CAPTAIN SHERWIN WILLIAM S. GUIDANGEN AND JOHN DOES be INDICTED with violation of Sections 4 and 5 of Republic Act 9745 (Anti-Torture Act of 2009) and Art. 235 of the Revised Penal Code (Maltreatment of Prisoners). It is further recommended that CAPT. SHERWIN WILLIAM S. GUIDANGEN be INDICTED with the crime of delay in the delivery of Detained Persons (Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code).

For lack of participation, the criminal complaint against respondents Col. Alexander L. Macario and Sgt. Edgardo B. Santos is hereby DISMISSED.

The administrative charges against all respondents are DISMISSED, without prejudice to the earlier Decision of the AFP including ongoing disciplinary proceedings being conducted by the Western Mindanao Command involving the same incident.

On July 17,2014, the case against the accused was filed at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), branch 2 of Isabela City, Province of Basilan, Mindanao. Criminal Case no. 6334 for Violation of RA 9745 against SGT. GEORGE AWING, SSGT. ELMER R. MAGDARAOG, AND CAPTAIN SHERWIN WILLIAM S. GUIDANGEN and Criminal Case no. 6635 for Maltreatment of Prisoners (involving the same accused) and Criminal Case no. 1443 for Delay in Delivery of Detained Persons against CAPT. SHERWIN WILLIAM S. GUIDANGEN.

It must be recalled that the complaint was filed on February 8,2012 and one year after the Resolution was handed. It is questionable why the Resolution was mailed to both parties only on January 16,2014.

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), made a follow-up on June 16,2014 to the office of the Ombudsman to get copy of the Resolution. The staff was informed to return the next day because they are still looking for the copy of the Resolution.

The following day, TFDP already acquired a copy of the Resolution and the staff questioned the in charge in releasing the document why is it that they did not file the case against the respondents military. The Ombudsman staff answered that they just waited for the submission of the Motion for Reconsideration of both parties.

During the 1st week of July, TFDP was informed by Haniba Mussadaman, the sister of the victim and complainant in this case that the Ombudsman forwarded the case documents to the Prosecution’s office and they were only given ten (10) days to file the case in court.

The administrative aspect of the complaint was dismissed by Ombudsman, because based on their records that the Command Post of the Western Mindanao Command of the AFP had already conducted its prior administrative investigation involving the same incident, which resulted in the discharge from the military service of respondents SSgt. Elmer Magdaraog and SSgt. George C. Awing, and charging Capt. Sherwin William C. Guidangen before the Efficiency Separation Board for Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentlemen.

If proven that the two (2) accused were already dismissed from military service, then we can no longer compel the military to surrender the accused if ever warrant will be issued against them for they have no jurisdiction over these accused.
____________________________________________________________________
CASE BACKGROUND: (DETAILED ACCOUNT OF TORTURE AS NARRATED BY THE VICTIM)

Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, a native of a Yakan tribe, a baker for eight (8) years and also a farmer was forcibly taken inside their house on July 23, 2011 at about 5:30 in the morning, in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province, and later tortured by his captors. The alleged perpetrators were members of Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B), belonging to 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario.

On July 23, 2011 at about 3:00 o’clock in the morning, Ajid heard their neighbors’ dogs barking. After a while, he also heard their dog barking. He peeped through the window and saw some armed men wearing camouflage uniform encircle their house (he was able to see because of the light coming from the post). He was at the upper part of their house. He went down and prayed with his family. Their bakery is located at the extension of their house.

At about 5:00 o’clock in the morning, they finished praying and stayed inside their house. At about 5:30, somebody kicked their door twice and the lock was destroyed. There were some persons who peeped at the door armed with armalite and M14 rifles. They aimed their rifles inside the house.

Minutes later, they already got inside the house. Ajid meanwhile went upstairs. He was told in Tagalog to go down. Ajid asked what it was about but he was told again to go down. The rifles were aimed at him. When he went downstairs, he was told to lay down. Ajid asked why but he was told to lay facing down. Three (3) persons stamped on his nape and back. He was poked with a rifle. His hands were tied behind his back and he was brought outside the house. He saw several soldiers and asked them why he was being arrested. He was told that he will just be asked some things and he should explain. He was ordered to kneel down and his pictures were taken. He looked at the person near him to see who it was but there was no nameplate on his uniform.
They walked about 50 meters from their house then he saw a 6 x 6 truck. He was pushed inside the truck. His wife Noraisa and daughter Johaipa were also about to board the truck but they were prevented from doing so. Her daughter’s cellular phone was confiscated. Ajid looked at the men but was told not to do so. He was blindfolded with a t-shirt.

He was punched several times on the head and was pushed. (He was able to recognize the place because he saw it while his head was being shoved down.) When they reached a certain place called Mangal landing area, the soldiers got down at the checkpoint. He was also asked to go down, but no one assisted him so he fell. His blindfold was removed and he was brought inside. He stayed there for about 15 minutes just sitting on the bench outside the detachment.

He was lifted to the truck and was again blindfolded. He was brought to Tipo-tipo, Basilan and throughout their travel he just bowed his head and he was able to see the road where they travelled. He heard some passersby who observed that in Tipo-tipo, there are many soldiers. Throughout the trip, he was punched. His ears were struck with cupped hands (“pompyang”). He was brought to the military brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan. He only learned of his whereabouts three days after his stay at the brigade.

He was commanded to go down and was instructed to walk. When he bumped onto a ladder, the soldiers only laughed at him. He was told to go inside where he was given coffee and food. He was then handcuffed to a post. The one who fed him only spoke in Tausug. Later, he went to sleep but the soldiers woke him. He was blindfolded throughout the interrogation. Three persons interrogated him about his involvement with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a kidnap for ransom group in Mindanao.

The soldiers told him that they did not believe him since his wife and Mayor Hataman went there and certified that he is an Abu Sayyaf member. Ajid was not able to talk anymore. They continued to interrogate him. When he did not answer, he was either punched or hit on different parts of his body. This lasted for two hours. His right handcuff was removed and he was told to sleep. He was not able to rest that night. He just lay down at the bench.

On July 24, 2011, he was fed with breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the evening, around 9:00 o’clock, he was already sleeping when he was asked to get up. He heard the same voices as the ones who interrogated him the previous night.

He was asked where his gun was and it was hidden in his house but his brother took it. He was punched and hit all over his body for several times. His pants were lowered down and a long neck bottle was inserted in his anus for four (4) times. For each insertion, there was a question. They bent his body forward and held his head and right arm. That was when he saw the bottle that was used on him.
Then, his blindfold was lifted and his eyes were pierced with a pointed instrument (one at a time) for several times, which lasted for about two (2) seconds before they stopped. His kneecaps were pulled while somebody was holding both his thighs and feet. The back portion of his kneecaps was pressed on too hard for several times. He was paddled with a wood and was hit at his back and thighs for several times.

His head was wrapped with a plastic bag and he was strangled (this time his blindfold was removed), then he fainted. He was punched then he regained consciousness. Thereafter, his neck was pressed very hard. His pants were lowered and then his testicles were flicked. He then fainted again (he only remembered it was done to him for four (4) times).

He was brought to an adjacent area where his blindfold was removed again. He was submerged into water. After that, he was asked if he will already admit being an Abu Sayyaf member. After three (3) times that he was submerged into water he lost his consciousness. Every time he fainted, he would be punched in order for him to regain his consciousness. He recalled having been submerged into water and fainted for several times. After that, the bottom of his left biggest toe was twice burnt with cigarette.

Afterwards, he admitted all the accusations so that they will end his torture. He was brought to the waiting shed area. He was asked if he is Kanneh Malikil and he said yes. He was also asked if he participated during the kidnapping incident in Lamitan, Basilan and he also admitted. When he was asked about his firearm, he answered none. They were irked so he was punched for several times. Then, they stopped the interrogation and he was told to sleep. He was handcuffed again and connected to the post of the waiting shed.

In the morning of July 25, 2011, he was served with coffee and was told to change his clothes. At about 9:00 o’clock, he heard three (3) persons arrive. He was told not to be afraid because they were just there to get a statement from him. He was told that all they want is the truth and they do not want Ajid to lie to them. He was asked about his identity.

He was told not to be afraid, they are from MICO (an intelligence from military). They said that somebody told them that he is Kanneh Malikil. He said that he is not Kanneh Malikil and that he is Abdul-Khan Ajid. He was punched several times at the different parts of his body. He was asked about the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). He was asked if he participated in the kidnapping in Lamitan, he answered, “no, sir.” He was punched again for several times. He was struck using a wood hitting his abdomen for several times. He was asked again if he participated in the harassment in Baiwas (one of the barangays in Lamitan), then he answered, “no, sir.”

A gun was pointed at his nape and he was told that he will be killed if he did not admit the accusation. He said no and he was again punched. The men then left him. After that, somebody arrived and he was told that his blindfold will be removed. His pictures were taken and a cartoon was placed at the lower part of his body.

At about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, somebody arrived to get a statement from him. The man said that he wanted the truth and he did not want a liar. Ajid agreed. He was asked about his identity which he also answered that he is Abdulkhan Ajid.

The man identified himself as Lt. Benedict Lim from the NBI. He told Ajid not to be afraid and that he would come the next day and Ajid was to wait for him. After that, Ajid was given food for dinner. He was able to rest and sleep.

In the morning of July 26, 2011, he was told to take a bath. His blindfold and handcuffs were removed. There were three (3) persons guarding him. Thereafter, he was made to ride in a 4 x 4 vehicle. A bonnet was used to blindfold him and he was made to wear sunglasses. A piece of paper was then used to cover his eyes. He estimated that they traveled for about 500 meters when he heard the sound of water. They went down from the vehicle, then his sunglasses and the paper covering both eyes were removed. He was able to see the wharf of Zamboanga. They road on a speedboat (he was still handcuffed behind his back and the sunglasses and paper were put on again). They rode again in a 4 x 4 gray vehicle and he was brought to a place.

He was told by the driver that they will go to the hospital. His blindfold was not removed, then somebody performed an x-ray on him. He was asked about his name and he answered that he is Abdul-Khan Ajid. His blood pressure was checked, including his blood and urine. He was again made to ride in a 4 x 4 vehicle. He was told that they were already at the court. His blindfold and handcuffs were removed. When they were already at the office, he saw a person wearing eyeglasses. He told Ajid that he was going to ask some questions and he wanted good answers, not lies. He was asked about several questions and about his involvement with the Abu Sayaff Group.

He was asked if he was being punched and he answered yes. They went outside of the office, his blindfold and handcuffs were placed again. He was kicked by the person who interrupted them at the office; he was hit at the right side of his body, and was told that he will be killed. They again rode in 4 x 4 vehicle and they travelled for about 45 minutes. They took their lunch and then they went back to the court. After two (2) hours he was asked, “Do you want to know this place?” He answered yes and his blindfold was removed. He saw that they were in the Prosecution office.

Somebody arrived who told Ajid that he was nothing and that he will be killed since he did not answer yes to the questions of the Fiscal. At about 4:00 p.m., his two companions went outside the office. They again rode a 4 x 4 vehicle. They went to the port and after 15 minutes, they boarded a speedboat and his blindfold was removed.

A few minutes after, his blindfold and sunglasses were put again. He was again brought to the brigade at the waiting shed where he was given food for dinner.

A man went near him and Ajid smelled liquor on him. Ajid heard that they were having a drinking spree. While he was interrogated by the same three (3) persons, they were drinking. He was asked why he did not admit that he is Kanneh Malikil. They said that he admitted that he was Malikil the night before. He was punched on different parts of the body for several times. He was still blindfolded and handcuffed.

He was asked why he does not take out his gun, an M14 armalite. Ajid said he did not own a gun. He was punched after each question. He was asked if he was a former member of the ASG, and he said no. His kneecap was pulled and he heard somebody shout, “Sige, boy tupak.” (go on boy tupak).

He heard somebody arrived who was greeted by the persons with “good evening, sir” to which the man also replied “good evening.” Ajid was repeatedly asked the same questions. He was wrapped with cellophane. He was asked again if he possessed a gun. A wood was pushed against his neck while his head was being held. He then fainted. This was repeatedly done to him and Ajid could no longer recall how many times he lost consciousness. A rope was then tied to his neck and both ends of the rope were pulled. A bottle was again inserted to his anus for four times while his thighs were held. He was also threatened that his fingernails would be pulled out. He heard somebody ask if there were pliers. He was then told that he will be killed and thrown into the river.

He was then brought to the comfort room. He was carried upside down and submerged into the water until he lost consciousness. He cannot recall how many times he was submerged into the water.

He was slumped inside the comfort room. When he regained consciousness, his neck was tied while being pulled out and he was placed in the ground. (he was still wearing pants with no t-shirt), he was very weak. He was kicked and hit at the left side of his shoulder. He then threw up all the water that he drank while he was being drowned. He overheard somebody utter, “Kumuha ka ng gasoline, isang litro.” Gasoline was poured into his left ear. The pain prompted him to stand but he was handcuffed.

Gasoline was then poured on his head. He heard somebody say, “Huwag mong ubusin, meron pa.” Gasoline was also poured on his pants. The edge of his pants caught fire. This did not take long when the fire was put out. The left side of his body already caught fire, as well as the left side of his back. He also sustained burns on the forehead. About three fourths of his eyebrow was also burn.

He heard the men laughing. They said “parang may kapangyarihan ang taong ito” (as if this man has a magic). Afterwards, he was punched on the chest. Because of the impact, he was thrown to the cemented portion and he fell down. His neck was again tied and he was pulled to the waiting shed. He was handcuffed to the waiting shed post. He estimated that it was 3:00 a.m. when his ordeal ended. Before his torturer left him, he was told, “hanggang dyan ka nalang mamamatay ka na” (your life will end here). He was no longer blindfolded but he had no shirt on. He was not able to sleep.

In the morning of July 27, 2011, he was told to change his clothes. He was blindfolded. He was offered with coffee and was told to take a rest. His right handcuff was removed.

At 8:30 a.m., somebody arrived (he recalled from the voice that it was the same person who interrogated him). Ajid’s blindfold was removed. The man looked at him and said, “grabe iyong ginawa nila sa iyo kagabi,” (what they have done to you is too much) after which, he left. He overheard the man talking to his guard, then his guard went near him. He told Ajid to take a rest inside the room because there were passersby outside.

Ajid was then given lunch and then he was able to sleep. He was awakened by the guard and informed him that according to a certain “sir”, he will be accompanied to the hospital. He was made to ride in a 4 x 4 vehicle. When they reached their destination, his blindfold was removed and he was able to see that he was in court. Inside, he saw his sister Haniba and his wife Noraisa. Haniba told him, “nandito na kami kuya, huwag kang mawalan ng pag-asa.” (we are already here kuya, don’t lost hope).

In the evening, the victim was brought to Basilan Community Hospital, Inc. for treatment. An initial medical finding issued by Jheimar B. Francisco, M.D., attending physician on July 30, 2011, stated that the victim suffered partial and superficial thickness flame burns on the face, neck, lower abdomen, thighs and right shoulder.

On July 31, 2011, Atty. Raissa Jajurie filed a motion for transfer of confinement to the hospital in Zamboanga City. This was immediately granted by the court. The victim was later transferred to Zamboanga Medical Center for further medication.
On August 2, 2011, the victim started talking and recalling his ordeal at the hands of his captors and on August 20,2011 a detailed accounts of his torture was narrated by the victim.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

KINDLY WRITE LETTERS TO THE FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND INDIVIDUALS CALLING FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES:

1. To the Department of Justice (DOJ) to include this case to be monitored and supervise under the Administrative Order no. 35, to ensure the effective monitoring and prosecution. AO 35 is an inter-agency Committee on Extra-legal killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.
Thank you.

RITA M. MELECIO
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Contact # +63 437 8054

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear_______,

Greetings of peace!

I am writing to express my concern regarding the arrest and alleged torture of Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, 39 years old, a baker and a native of the Yakan tribe in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province in the island of Mindanao on July 23, 2011 at 5:30 in the morning. The perpetrators were said to be members of Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) belonging to 39th Scout Rangers.

I was informed that the case against the accused military namely; Sgt. George Awing, SSgt. Elmer Magdaraog, and Captain Sherwin William S. Guidangen was already filed in court on July 17,2014 at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 2 for Violation of Anti-Torture Law (RA 9745), Maltreatment of Prisoners and with the crime of Delay in the Delivery of Detained Persons. This was happened one (1) year after the Military Ombudsman resolved the complaint and approved the filing of case against them.

Therefore, with the recent development I am urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately include this case to be monitored and supervise under Administrative Order no. 35, to ensure the effective monitoring and prosecution.

I am also urging for a speedy and effective and speedy prosecution of this case.
I trust that you will act favorably. Thank you and God bless.

Sincerely,

Please send letters to:
1. Honorable Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Hon. Loretta Ann Rosales
Chairperson Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Atty. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura, 1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

4. General Emmanuel T. Bautista Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) AFP-GHQ office, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City, Philippines Fax : + 632 9116436

5. Col. Rhoderick Parayno
Head, Human Rights Affairs Office Armed Forces of the Philippines Tel: + 632 9116001 to 50

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