TORTURE continues as a policy and a practice of the Aquino government as proven by the “torture roulette” discovered in a police detention facility in Biñan, Laguna, a human rights group asserted on Wednesday.
The Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights or Karapatan said torture was “being done by the administration not only to its political opponents but even to common offenders.”
The group issued the statement as it condemned the torture of 15 detainees in Biñan, Laguna perpetrated by 10 members of Philippine National Police-Laguna Provincial Intelligence Branch District Office.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday that ten policemen from the Southern Tagalog have been relieved and investigated for alleged torture of prisoners inside a “secret-detention” facility in Laguna.
“The torture roulette found in the police detention facility in Biñan, Laguna showed the brazenness of the torturers and how deeply instituted torture is in the police and the army,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Palabay said that the 10 policemen should not only be relieved from their posts, but they should be put behind bars.
“It is not enough to relieve the ten policemen who tortured the detainees at the secret detention center in Biñan, Laguna. They should immediately be prosecuted and put in jail, together with their superiors who abetted the said acts,” she added.
However, Palabay has expressed doubt that the policemen and their superiors will immediately be brought to justice, saying that “no perpetrator of such a crime has been put in jail.”
She cited the case of the 43 health workers who were allegedly tortured, but up to now are still begging for justice. They have filed counter-charges using the Anti-Torture Law.
“Their torturers and their superiors were even promoted to higher posts,” she added.
As of December 31, 2013, Karapatan documented 86 cases of torture under the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Karapatan added that even mentally handicapped-persons are not spared from torture.
Palabay said as long as counter-insurgency programs and the culture of impunity pervade under the Aquino administration, torture and other human rights violations will continue to be perpetrated.
PNP public information officer, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said the ten policemen led by Chief Insp. Arnold Formento are restricted to their camp where they are investigated criminal and administrative offenses.
“They are relieved from their post and in restricted custody and movement is limited to camp premises and are now undergoing pre-charge investigation without prejudice to anti-torture law,” Sindac said.
Formento, Sr. Police Officer (SPO) 3 Bernadino Artisen; SPO1 Alexander Asis; PO3s Renan Galang and Freddie Ramos; PO2s Marc Julius Caezar, Melmar Bayabado Viray, Aldwin Paulo Tibuc, Mateo Cailo; and PO1 Nelso Caribo are being probed for grave-misconduct and maltreatment of prisoners.
The relief and investigation of the ten police officers were part of the pro-active measures undertaken by the Southern Tagalog Regional Police Office spurred by a letter of the Commission on Human Rights.
The investigation is being conducted by the Regional Investigative and Detective Management (RIDM) of the Southern Tagalog police while they are restricted to Camp Sandigan, Barangay Bitin, Bae, Laguna, the PNP official said.
“We are checking on their background, but off hand, we do not see any derogatory records . . . the investigation is being done by the RIDM, which is a higher office,” Sindac said.
The PNP official also denied that they were maintaining a ‘secret-detention’ facility in Laguna where inmates are reportedly being tortured by policemen.
“The PNP conducted an inventory of lock-up cells in police stations and it’s not a secret facility and that is an identified and a known lock-up cell of the Biñan police,” Sindac said.
The PNP official explained that Biñan Municipal Police office has requested the Laguna Provincial Police Office for additional space or an extension of their lock-up cell where they can detain and accommodate their excess inmates.