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July 9, 2018
(PHILIPPINES) Torture of Indigenous People
ISSUES: Assertion of right to life; freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the torture of four indigenous people in Upi, Maguindanao.
If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP, kindly send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +632 4378054.
Title: Cornelio, et al TOR
Victims: Jeffrey Dodoy Cornelio, 26 years old
Rizaldo Gante Usman, 20 years old
Rogelio Dodoy Usman, 35 years old
Rodne Timway Labe, 40 years old
Date of Incident: May 5, 2018; 6:00 A.M.
Place of Incident: Sitio Lenilitan, Barangay Borongotan, Upi, Maguindanao
Alleged Perpetrators: Members of Upi Municipal Police, identified as Police Officers Ramon Endrina, Joel Baring, Vincent Gamino, and a certain Castro
Motive: Suspected Cattle Rustlers; suspected members of BIFF
Rights Violated: Freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Right to Life
Account of the incident:
On May 5, 2018 around 6:00 a.m., in Sitio Lenilitan, Barangay Borongotan, Upi, Maguindanao, four men belonging to the Teduray tribe were allegedly arrested and tortured by members of the Upi Municipal Police. The victims were identified as Jeffrey Dodoy Cornelio, aka Longkoy, 26 years old; Rizaldo Gante Usman, aka Ijeng, 20 years old; Rogelio Dodoy Usman, aka Michael, 35 years old; and Rodney Timway Labe, aka Yad, 40 years old.
Cornelio narrated that he was on his way to his farm when he met Police Officer Ramon Endrina. Endrina allegedly pointed his long firearm at Cornelio and ordered him to throw away his machete. He was told to call all the men in their neighborhood and to gather at the basketball court. There were about 15 males who responded to the call.
Police Officer Joel Bareng was talking with someone on his cellular phone when he asked Cornelio if he knew someone named Longkoy. Cornelio replied that it was his nickname. Bareng then told him not to leave. He was also asked if he knew Michael Usman. Cornelio pointed to Rogelio Dodoy Usman, aka Michael, who at that time was in his house having coffee. Cornelio said that there were about ten police officers who surrounded them. All of them had long firearms. Bareng then asked Cornelio again if he knew a certain Yad Usman. Cornelio said that he knew someone named Yad, but his surname was Labe, not Usman.
Rodney Labe, also known as Yad in their community, was at his house meters away from the basketball court. He was about to go to the rice field when he met along the way around 12 police officers, including Endrina and Baring. Cornelio was forced to walk with them going to the basketball court. He did not want to go with them, but Endrina struck his back four times with the butt of the rifle.
Michael said that when the police saw him having coffee, they scolded him and called him a thief. After having coffee, he went to the basketball court and waited for Labe to arrive.
Cornelio saw an unidentified man who was pulled out by the police officers from their mobile vehicle. The man was wearing a face mask and baseball cap. One of the police officers placed his arm around the man’s shoulders and commanded him to point to Cornelio, Labe, and Michael. The three were surprised when the man pointed at them. They were ordered to stand up. Then they were called thieves and “luko-luko”. They denied the allegation and insisted that they are innocent farmers.
As they were going to the vehicle, Labe tried to resist. A police officer punched his stomach twice.
While inside the police vehicle, Endrina confiscated Michael’s voter’s and indigenous peoples’ identification cards. Michael also saw Endrina and Baring punch Ijeng’s side as he was dragged to the police vehicle.
Ijeng recounted that he was at his yard, having coffee while feeding their chickens, when he saw Baring and Endrina running towards their house. When the two arrived, they asked Ijeng if he knew Jing-jing Usman. He replied that his nickname is Ijeng and not Jing-jing. Quickly, Endrina grabbed his shoulder and told him not to move. Baring hurriedly went inside the house and ordered the men in the household to get out and bring with them their firearms if they had any.
Ijeng’s mother was about to go out when he met Baring at the door. He pushed her to the other side of the door and threw the glass she was holding. Ijeng’s younger brother, who was still sleeping inside the mosquito net was awakened. Baring lifted the mosquito net with the tip of his rifle and pointed to Ijeng’s younger brother. Ijeng’s mother and younger brother were shocked.
Ijeng’s father pleaded with the police not to harm Ijeng. The police assured his father that Ijeng would only be investigated at the police station and that the will return home in the afternoon.
Ijeng was then brought to the road crossing where he saw Cornelio, Labe, and Michael inside the police vehicle. As Ijeng was about to board the vehicle, Endrina told him that he was a liar and punched his side.
As they were on their way to the municipal police station, they passed Borongotan School. The police told them that they may have been the ones who placed the improvised explosive device (IED) in the school. They vehemently denied the allegation and told the police that they do not have the capacity to do it.
At around 10:00 a.m., they arrived at the municipal police station in Nuro, Upi. As they alighted the vehicle, each of them was told to close his eyes. Each of them was punched on the stomach. It took them a while to recover from the blow.
They were padlocked in the municipal police station. Michael said that 15 minutes after they arrived, they saw the police buy bottles of Red Horse beer. The police had a drinking session inside the police station.
At around 11:00 a.m., Police Officers Baring, Endrina, and Vincent Gamino went inside the jail. Labe said that he was punched around nine times on his body. Cornelio, Ijeng, and Michael were also beaten. They were called horse thieves. The officers said that they were the ones whom they were after in the early morning. The four denied the accusation and said that they were sleeping at that time.
They were instructed to lay face down. Their feet were beaten using a round 2×2 wooden stick. They shouted in pain. The officers told them not to make noise or else, more harm would be inflicted on them. Minutes after, they were instructed to stand up and form a line. They were told to show their hands and hold their fingers together. When they did so, their hands and fingers were struck with a round wooden stick and bullet magazine of .45 caliber pistol. They were forced to admit to the crime, but they denied the accusation.
The police went out of the detention cell and continued their drinking session. At around 2:00 p.m., the police were already drunk and went inside again. The four were punched multiple times on their bodies. Their hands and feet were again beaten with a round wooden stick. They were again forced to admit that they were thieves, but they denied the accusation.
The police also gave them Red Horse beer to drink but they refused to accept it because they feared that something may have been placed in the drink to drug them.
According to Michael, the beating continued during midnight. Water was thrown at them to wake them up. They were asked if there was someone who can help them with their case. They answered that they did not know anyone.
The beating resumed in the evening of May 6. They were also forced to admit to being members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). They told the police that they are all innocent of the crime being accused of them. They reasoned that they are ordinary farmers and members of the Teduray tribe.
Edison Dodoy Edas, also a Teduray detainee and Cornelio’s second cousin, defended them by telling the police that they indeed are true Tedurays and not BIFF members.
Edas confessed to them that he was the one who mentioned their names to the police which was why they were arrested. Edas apologized to them. He further explained that he was forced by the police to mention the names of his cousin and relatives. He was also beaten by the police and Leo Baybayan, the owner of the two horses. Edas feared for his life, which was why he mentioned their names. He admitted that he regretted his action. He did not think that his relatives would be accused as horse thieves.
They said that among the other detainees in the municipal jail, the Tedurays were the only ones being beaten by the police. They felt discriminated against because they were Tedurays. The police did not hurt the non-indigenous peoples and Moro.
On May 15 around 12:00 noon, they were told to form a line. Police Officer Castro went inside the detention cell and asked how many were detained. They replied that they were eight in all. Castro said that the four will be taken out soon. They felt terrified and thought that they would be salvaged.
At around 1:00 p.m., Police Officer Gamino went inside the detention cell and instructed them to show their respect by saluting him. They followed the order, but Gamino got angry and told them to lay face down for they did not salute correctly. They were again beaten with a wooden stick.
On the same date, the municipal police of Upi had their operation against BIFF members in Sitio Kapalit, Barangay Blensong. When the police returned to their station, they told the four that their BIFF companions fired shots at them. Endrina, Baring, and Castro went inside the jail, threw water at them, and pointed their guns at them. Endrina threatened them that if someone would take a picture of video of him and expose what he was doing, they will be made to answer to him. The four were again beaten with the round wooden stick as they were forced to admit to being horse thieves.
When the police officers grew tired of beating the four, they instructed a detainee known as Bad Boy to beat the four. Bad Boy is a not a Teduray.
Later, the four learned that two horses have gone missing in Sitio Kapalit. At the time of their arrest, while they were on their way to the municipal police station, one of the horses was returned to the police station by an unidentified man.
On June 8, they posted a cash bond worth 78,000 pesos for the case of Cattle Rustling at RTC Branch 27 in Cotabato City.
They said that what happened to them was harassment and intimidation to the tribe members. They reiterated that they did not commit the crime accused of them. They said that they are victims of injustice and maltreatment done by the members of Upi municipal police.
Please write a letter to the authorities, calling on them to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on the torture done by Police Officers Ramon Endrina, Joel Baring, Vincent Gamino, and a certain Castro, and all members of the Upi Municipal Police in Upi, Maguindanao. Please urge concerned agencies to immediately resolve the case and give justice to the victims.
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
I am writing to draw your attention to the case of torture committed against four indigenous people in Upi, Maguindanao.
I have learned that on May 5, 2018 around 6:00 a.m., in Sitio Lenilitan, Barangay Borongotan, Upi, Maguindanao, four men belonging to the Teduray tribe were arrested and allegedly tortured by the members of the Upi Municipal Police.
The victims were identified as Jeffrey Dodoy Cornelio, aka Longkoy, 26 years old; Rizaldo Gante Usman, aka Ijeng, 20; Rogelio Dodoy Usman, aka Michael, 35; and Rodney Timway Labe, aka Yad, 40.
I was informed that during the arrest of Ijeng and Labe, they were punched on their bodies as they resisted in going with the police.
I learned that the four were padlocked in the municipal police station and 15 minutes after they were brought there, they saw that the police bought bottles of Red Horse beer. The police had a drinking session in the police station. The police also gave them beer to drink but they refused to accept for fear that something may have been placed in the beer to drug them.
That around 11:00 a.m., Police Officers Baring, Endrina, and Vincent Gamino went inside the jail, beat them up, and called them horse thieves. They were instructed to lay face down and their feet were beaten with a round 2×2 wooden stick. Minutes after, they were ordered to stand and form a line. They were told to show their hands and hold their fingers together. When they did as told, their hands and fingers were struck with a round wooden stick and bullet magazine of .45 caliber pistol. They were forced to admit to the crime.
The beatings lasted until May 15. They were also forced to admit to being members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), when in fact they are Tedurays.
I have known that Police Officer Gamino went inside their detention cell and instructed them to show their respect by saluting him. When they did so, Gamino got angry and told them to lay face down for they did not salute correctly. They were again beaten using a wooden stick.
The municipal police of Upi had their operation against BIFF members in Sitio Kapalit, Barangay Blensong. When they went back to the police station, the police told the four that their BIFF companions fired shots at them. Endrina, Baring, and Castro went inside the jail, threw water at them, and pointed their guns to them. Endrina threatened them that if someone would have a picture or videos of him exposing what he was doing to them, they will be made to answer to him. They were again beaten with the round wooden stick as they were forced to admit to being horse thieves.
When the officers grew tired of beating the four, they ordered a detainee to beat them.
Philippine Republic Act 9745 Section 2(b) provides that, “…the human rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees and prisoners are respected at all times; and that no person placed under investigation or held in custody of any person in authority or, agent of a person authority shall be subjected to physical, psychological or mental harm, force, violence, threat or intimidation or any act that impairs his/her free will or in any manner demeans or degrades human dignity.”
With this, I urge the Philippine authorities to promptly and impartially investigate this case and ensure that the perpetrators will be prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law and that justice will be served for the torture committed against Cornelio, Labe, Michael, and Ijeng.
I look forward to you urgent action.
Please send your letters to:
1. His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte
President, Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel,
Tel: +63 2 736 8645, +63 2 736 8603, +63 2 736 8606, +63 2 736 8629
Fax: +63 2 736 8621
2. Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde
Police Director General
National Headquarters, Camp Crame,
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel/Fax: +63 2 726 4361; +63 2 899 7504
3. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Email Address: email@example.com
4. Sec. Menardo I. Guevarra
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street, Ermita,
Tel: +63 2 521 1908, +63 2 526 5462
Fax: +63 2 523 9548
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
2nd Floor N. dela Merced Building, Cor. West and Quezon Avenues, Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 373 9787, +63 2 373 9534