Saturday, March 3, 2018

Military open to torture probe

From the Manila Times (Mar 3): Military open to torture probe

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is open to investigation of soldiers in Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) who have been accused of torturing two farmers from Compostela Valley last year.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, over the weekend said they do not condone any misbehavior of their soldiers and assured they will sanction and punish those who commit human rights violations.

“We welcome any investigation by any legitimate investigating agency and further cooperate as this will provide opportunity for our unit and personnel to answer the allegation squarely and bring closure to this issue the soonest possible time,” he said in a statement.

Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesman for the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said they will also cooperate with concerned authorities regarding the farmers’ allegations.

He said they had expected such accusations even before they started their campaign against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

Lamosao added that they remain steadfast in respecting human rights and adhering to rules of engagement, international human law and rule of law.

The two farmers, Janry Mensis and “Jerry,” on Friday filed complaints before the Commission on Human Rights, saying they were abducted, illegally detained and tortured by soldiers from November 28 to December 6, 2017.

According to human rights group Karapatan, Mensis and Jerry were kidnapped by the military and the police in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, on November 28 after they were falsely accused as thieves.

After they were cleared by the police, they were turned over to the Philippine Army and said they they were tortured for days after they were accused as members of the NPA.

Mensis and Jerry were brought on December 6, 2017 to a mountainous area in Compostela Valley and were thrown in a pit where the solders tried to burn them alive.

The victims escaped but Mensis suffered from third-degree burns and Jerry sustained several wounds in the body.

They were able to go back to their family on December 12, 2017.

“Despite the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law in 2009 and the government’s ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, such practices still prevail. These stem from the military’s dangerous and insidious mindset that they can get away with anything, owing to the climate of impunity in the country,” Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor said.

Based on documents from Karapatan, there have been 87 persons tortured by military and police authorities.

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