EDITORIAL

Torture

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AMERICAN President Trump must have got a lot of votes from people who liked what he was saying during the campaign about torture. He seemed to have mentioned the possibility of bringing back waterboarding and even worse tortures than that.

Maybe the Christians among his advisers have convinced him to get rid of that nauseating idea. Torture certainly erases the stars he gets for making his presidency a pro-life one. He has gone on record to be against abortion.

Until now though there are still rumors that US anti-terrorist lawmen have not stricken off torture from their list of tools to make captured terrorists speak. We hope these are just dark canards being circulated by the bitterly anti-Trump political activists who up to now keep trying to foment riots and spread tales about shenanigans to show that President Trump’s election victory was illegitimate.

The LA Times has mentioned that there has been a report of “a draft executive order” in circulation “that contemplates modifications in interrogation practices and implies that limits in current law are too restrictive.” The LA Times goes on to say that, “Equally ominous, the document also floats the idea of re-establishing overseas detention centers operated by the CIA at which ‘high-value alien terrorists’ would be interrogated outside the reach of US law.”


Press Secretary Sean Spicer has declared that the proposed executive order is “not a White House document.” The New York Times however quoted three administration officials who have claimed that they know it had circulated among National Security Council staff members, as if this proves that the document was authored by President Trump’s people and not his enemies.

Our Anti-Torture Act
We have an anti-Torture Act. We in The Manila Times campaigned for the passage of the law whose principal author is former Bayan Congressman Satur Ocampo.

In November 2009, twenty-three years after the Philippine government ratified the UN’s International Convention Against Torture (CAT), the law penalizing acts of torture in our country was finally passed and signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This is Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law.

The United Nations’ Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) mandates state party to the convention to “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

Then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and now Senator Leila de Lima berated past administrations for their failure or unwillingness to pass an anti-torture law. “The interregnum between assuming the obligation under the CAT and the passage of the Anti-Torture Law had left the Philippines unable to specifically penalize torture, thereby diluting the grievous nature of torture against human rights by assigning ordinary crimes to blatant incidents of torture.”

De Lima then stressed the importance of the Anti-Torture Law for it defines the crime of torture separately and distinctly from other crimes under the Revised Penal Code like murder, serious physical injury, grave coercion and illegal detention.

The Anti-Torture Law criminalizes all forms of torture — physical, mental, psychological and pharmacological (the latter is done through administering drugs).

The law proscribes any justification for torture and other inhuman punishments. Torturers are to be penalized as principals, as well as their superiors in the military, police or law enforcement establishments who ordered the torture.

The law also requires the military and police to submit a monthly report listing all its detention centers, including safehouses, to the CHR. Those who maintain secret detention centers or fail to include a detention center on the list provided to the CHR will be penalized.

One of the sad and terrible cases of torture here is that of the Filipino-American Leftist Melissa Roxas, who is a heroine in our book.

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