August 05, 2016
Reference: Dan Balucio, BAYAN-Bicol spokesperson
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Bicol condemns the torture of the Catanduanon abaca farmer by the 83rd IB of 9th ID and CAFGUs of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the militarization continuously prevailing in Bicol region under their counter-insurgency operations.
First in the region under the new administration, a day after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA), that Karapatan recorded another human rights violation.
The incident happened on July 26 when AFP troops tortured Gerald Domingo, 25-year-old abaca worker, in Brgy. Tucao, San Miguel, Catanduanes. It was the same day when delegates from Lakbayan were already traveling via RoRo ship on their way back to the island.
Gerald’s hands were tied around his back using a nylon rope, which was also used to tie his neck. His feet were also tied by a wire to the trunk of a narra tree while his face was covered with a plastic bag. He was kicked three times on his back. He was held and tortured by soldiers for around 30 minutes. Afterwhich, the soldiers then asked Gerald’s uncle, Rodulfo Teves, the same question – if he had seen NPA’s in the area, Teves answered yes in order to save his nephew from further torture.
Based on the Medico Legal, Gerald had contusion in his Mid Thoracic area. Fractures of the thoracic spine can occur whenever the spinal column is subjected to forces that exceed its strength and stability. And the cause of his pain was a military blast injury – the tortured victim was been kicked three times with the combat shoes which typically around two and a half pounds.
The incident came despite President Duterte’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire in his 1st SONA on July 25 to pave way for the resumption of formal peace talks with the NDFP. In line with Duterte’s declaration, the AFP announced the Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) against the CPP-NPA-NDF. Massive militarization in Catanduanes still existing according to Karapatan.
However, President Duterte took back his a unilateral ceasefire declaration and the AFP troops still remain in communities to spread threat and fear to civilians. Militarization is rampantly exercised not only in Catanduanes but also in other provinces such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Masbate.
Torture in the Philippines has persisted for decades despite the passage of Anti-Torture Act on November 2009. It should recognized torture as a separate crime and must guarantees aid to torture survivors seeking redress.
We continue to receive reports of the widespread use of torture by state security forces but not a single perpetrator has been convicted under a landmark anti-torture law.
Torture and other human rights violations must put to End! We call all Bicolanos to stand against militarization and AFP deployment in Schools, Barangay Halls, and in the communities.
The resumption of Peace Talks between the government and the NDFP must be urgent to solve the roots of the armed conflict in the country and save the communities against the culture of impunity.