As a member of the United Nations, the Philippines adheres, or it is supposed to adhere, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.”
The Philippines is also a signatory to the United Nations Conventions against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which defines torture as “an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession…”
Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights states, any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent counsel preferably of his own choice. “No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.”
The Constitution further guarantees the inviolable right of each and every Filipino citizen against warrantless arrests, unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose.
Yet, on Monday last week, elements of the Military Intelligence Group-15 (MIG-15) of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines abducted Virgilio Eustaquio, chair of the pro-Estrada Union of the Masses for Democracy and Justice , Ruben Dionisio, Dennis Ibona, Jose Justo Curameng and Jim Cabauatan while they were gathered at the house of Eustaquio in Quezon City.
While AFP Information chief Col. Tristan Kison was denying any knowledge of the abduction and custody of the five, they were being subjected to torture.
Sixty-year old Dionisio said men took turns beating him while he was blindfolded and tied to a ceiling. They covered his head with a plastic bag and administered electric shocks to his genitals.
His claim is supported by bruises on his stomach, some looking like needle pricks and a red patch near his right kidney.
Dionisio said his torturers wanted him to admit that he was also Mike Gumera or Ruben Siamson, an officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army who they said was planning to assassinate cabinet members.
The beating stopped when he agreed he would admit to being a CPP official. He was given food. But the beating resumed when he failed to give names of people who composed the Metro-Rizal CPP chapter.
Eustaquio corroborated Dionisio’s ordeal. From where he was taken, also blindfolded, he said, he could hear the beating of Dionisio and the answers they were demanding from him. “It went on the whole night. They didn’t allow us to sleep. If they saw us becoming sleepy, they hit us,” he said.
Eustaquio said they were constantly being moved, a common technique by torturers to disorient the victims. They were first brought to a cold place, then to a hot place, then outside, in what they imagined as an open field because they could feel the grass and the wind. “We could smell gasoline. The hands that touched us were very cold. We could not understand what was happening. It was mental torture.”
Cabauatan, a Quezon City policeman who just dropped by at Eustaquio’s place that Monday afternoon, said he was “treated like a dog” all throughout his detention. In what he felt was farmland, he could hear chopping, hammering and someone sharpening a blade. “I could stand the physical torture but the mental torture was what hurt most.”
Cabautan has a brother who is a sergeant in the military. It pained him so much to be accused of being a communist. “I fight criminals and he (his brother) fights subversives and rebels,” he said.
More from Ellen Tordesillas:
Ito ang salaysay ng dalawa sa limang mga supporters ni dating Pangulong Estrada na dinampot ng mga intelligence agents noong Lunes.
Ang lima ay sina Virgilio Eustaquio, Jim Cabauatan, Ruben Dionisio, Dennis Evona at Jose Curameng. Maliban kay Curameng, lahat ay mieyembro ng Union of the Masses for Democracy and Justice (UMDJ), isang grupong nasu-suporta kay Estrada.
Si Curameng ay isang Quezon City police na napadaan lang sa bahay ni Eustaquio sa Kamuning, Quezon City kung saan nagmi-miting ang apat ng sila ay dinampot. Nasa ospital pa si Dionisio dahil siya raw talaga ang pinahirapan ng mga ISAFP agents. Pinilit kasi siyang pinapa-amin na komunista raw siya at may balak raw i-assasinate ang ilang cabinet members ni Arroyo.
Sabi ni Eustaquio, chairman ng UMDJ, dinala sila sa magkakahiwalay na lugar . Nakatakip ang kanilang mata: “Ang aking kinalagyan ang pinakamalapit kay Ruben (Dionisio). Naririnig ko ang mga suntok at ang mga palo sa kanya. Naririnig ko rin ang mga tanong sa kanya at kanyang mga paghagulhol.”
Siguradong sinadya ng mga hayop na ISAFP na iparinig ang kanilang pagpapahirap sa kanilang mga kasama. Sabi pa ni Eustaguio:“Ang hirap. Sa bawat naririnig kong palo kay Ruben, parang ako na rin ang sinasaktan. At mas mahirap dahil wala akong magagawa. Buong gabi yun. Hindi nila kami pinatulog. Kapag nakita nila inaantok ka, papaluin. Kung naririnig nyo lang ang iyak ng aking kasama.”
Pagpatuloy ng salaysay ni Eustaquio: “Hilo-hilo at litong-lito kami. Hindi naming alam kung gabi o umaga. Hindi naming alam kung ano ang nangyayari sa aming mga kasama. Hindi naming alam kung sino ang dumukot sa amin. Hindi naming kilala ang mga nanakit sa amin. Basta pina-paamin kami na kasama ra kami sa hit squad ng mga komunista.
“Tatlong beses ako linipat. Una dinala kami sa isang malamig na lugar. Tapos sa isang mainit na lugar. Sunod sa isang mahangin na lugar, may mga damo. Mental torture. Naa-amoy ko ang gasolina. Malamig na kamay ang humahawak sa amin.”
Ang salaysay naman ni Cabautan: “Nakatakip ang aking mata. Nakatali ang aking mga kamay. Iba-ibang klaseng sound ang aking naririnig.Dinala ako sa isang lugar na parang taniman. Naririg ko na parang may pinpalakol. At parang naghihinang ng itak o patalim. At may minamartilyo. Mahirap ang physical torture pero ang mental torture mas mahirap.”
REad this too from the Daily Tribune:
They were physically and mentally tortured, the five, who now have access to their counsels, told family, friends and reporters.
Subjected to physical torture was Ruben Dionisio, a barangay officer whom the military and police, as well as the state prosecutors said is a communist hit man, assigned to kill President Arroyo and key Cabinet officials, on the basis of the claim made by an alleged communist leader in Bulacan.
He is now confined at the police hospital in Crame.
The four, Virgilio Eustaquio, Jim Lucio Cabauatan, Dennis Ibuna, and Police Officer 3 Jose Justo Curameng, were also reported to have been mentally tortured, with some of the accused saying they were blindfolded for days, kept in confinement for days, were made to hear the screams of Dionisio being tortured; brought to a vehicle that reeked with gas, with their captors threatening to light the vehicle and burn them to a crisp.
Another time, they said, they were made to hear people around them digging the ground up while saying they would be buried alive, if they refused to confess to the crime of their plot to assassinate the top government officials.
Dionisio ealier accused authorities of physical torture, showing the reporters the bruises from the mauling he received from his abductors, but added that he was also tied to hang, where they hit him some more. Explaining the pinprick marks on his body, Dionisio told reporters that his abductors let out a school of ants to travel all over his body, where he was bitten.
Dionisio also accused his captors of torturing him by electrocuting his genitalia.
I'm not surprised na tahimik lang yung mga pro-Arroyo bloggers tungkol sa isyung ito (like SassyLawyer). These hypocrites make like to lecture us about the human rights abuses and tortures that happened during marcos' time or that Lacson is a torturer blah blah blah-- pero tahimik lang sila kapag yung idolo nila ang nagto-torture ng mga "destabilizers" o kritiko ng arroyo admin.
It's obvious na okay against lang sila sa mga abuso at torture KUNG ginagawa ito sa kanila at mga kakampi nila.
Pero kung ginagawa ito sa kabilang panig o sa anti-GMA opposition, TAHIMIK lang sila.
At least si Conrad de Quiros na condemn itong katarantaduhan ng Arroyo admin, kahit na alam nating hindi siya pro-Erap.
But I'm pretty sure Richard Fernandez-- the great Fil-Aussie blogger who calls himself Wretchard... the guy who used to work for Fidel Ramos and who is pro-Arroyo himself--doesn't mind all this torture stuff. Because aminin na natin mga Belmont Club readers, isn't our main man a strong advocate of torture himself? Read his old posts on defending the use of torture.
And I just feel that the US administration will continue to prop this corrupt and illegitimate regime while looking the other way. For "stability's sake", sabi nila. I've given up on them (the U.S. gov't) already. They say they're our friends. I don't know what that means anymore. As far as I'm concerned, we're on our own now against Arroyo and I don't expect them to be on our side.
UPDATE: from Ducky Paredes:
Did his military captors torture Ruben Dionisio? He says that he was and had bruises to show the media in support of the claim. Dionisio also said that electric shock was administered to his penis.
Now, according to Virgilio Eustaquio, leader of the Union of Masses for Democracy and Justice (UMDJ), Ruben Dionisio’s condition has worsened: "Kailangang kailangan na siyang i-confine ngayon. Hindi na ho makahinga sa bali ng buto" (He needs medical attention in a hospital. He can’t breathe from his broken bones.)
Read the whole thing.
More here from the Malaya Editorial. Eto pa.
From LIto Banayo:
This bloody chapter in Central American history went through my mind upon learning of the fate of the Erap 5. Members of a pro-Erap group called Union of the Masses for Democracy and Justice, the five were summarily picked-up in the house of Ver Eustaquio, their president, who is a common sight in street protests. Fifteen heavily armed men swooped on his residence in clear daylight, and abducted the five, without any warrant of arrest, in the presence of his shocked and traumatized family. One of those arrested was even a lowly policeman.
Only when they were in custody, one of them separated from the group, for the "special" treatment of torture, did they learn they were in the hands of the MIG-15 of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Most likely, the military agents looked for the most "yagit-looking" among the five, and proceeded to rough him up. They tried to force him to confess complicity to a plot by the "usual suspects" – the communists, to assassinate high officials of the usurper-regime. (Assassination is too lofty a word to describe extermination of like characters).
The spokesman of the armed forces denied they did anything. The executive secretary, with pained look even, wondered aloud why they were always the "usual suspects" in abductions of this nature and daring. But only when media and senators raised a howl over the frighteningly fascistic episode did the MIG-15 surreptitiously transfer custody of the five to the CIDG of the Philippine National Police, and presented them to the media later.
They were accused of the "usual" crime – rebellion, and worse, conspiracy to assassinate worthless officials of the usurper-regime. They were hailed for inquest before a state prosecutor who must have finished his law in a school of nursing, who dutifully prattled before media the alleged "evidence" of their alleged crime. The tortured one stood up and bravely showed media the welts and bruises he suffered at the hands of his captors, unmistakable signs of torture. At least the nation and the world saw in that instant how depraved les tontons de Gloria could be.
Nobody has bothered to explain why the ISAFP, whose mandate is to gather and analyze intelligence data that would be of value in the operational tactics of the fighting men of the Armed Forces, had become the constables of the nation. That is the work of the civilian police. But then, the same ISAFP attempted to abduct Sigmundo Tabayoyong, a former NBI official who was quietly analyzing and collating faked election returns to prove the massive cheating of Dona Gloria in the 2004 elections.
Recall that the Senate tried to get to the bottom of the attempted abduction of Tabayoyong, but got nowhere because the Doña forbade her officials to testify, first on grounds of national security, later, through the mantle of the infamous EO 464. And because they got away with it, courtesy of a usurper-commander-in-chief who would condone all evil for as long as it is done in her furtherance, they did it again, this time against the five, if only to supply proof to the wild allegations of some dolt in Malacañang, that there was a leftist-rightist conspiracy to exterminate him and four or five others.
The incident came on the heels of the almost daily killings of mediamen and suspected "communists", in this land of everyday violence. The wave of impunity had shocked Amnesty International, civil society, the diplomatic community, the institutional Church, everyone except the military, the police, and the bunyetas and little boys who surround their insensitive Doña, who mocks us all by promising in the same instance, an "enchanted kingdom of the First World".
More: Rights abuses seen as worst since Marcos
DATA from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) show the Arroyo administration has likely surpassed the combined record of human rights violations under its three post-Marcos predecessors.
In yesterday’s plenary debate on the proposed P202 million budget of CHR, Sen. Manuel Villar said he was furnished documents showing that human rights abuses from 2001 to 2006 were "really very high."
He did not provide figures, but Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said that based on a CHR report, there have been 1,800 human rights violations under the Arroyo government.
Estrada said the figure has surpassed the combined number of violations committed during the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations.
Villar said the CHR is still compiling reports of human rights abuses in past administrations.
Villar said a comparison would likely show abuses are higher during the current administration.
Read the whole thing.
And the latest on the "Erap 5" from Ellen:
The operation by intelligence agents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the five supporters of former President Estrada was so crass that, in some portions, it looked like bad comedy.
Quezon City policeman Jose Curameng related that at the military headquarters they were brought to (after they were abducted at the house of Ver Eustaquio, chairman of the Union of the Masses for Democracy and Justice), his interrogators were forcing him to admit that he was a communist.
Curameng said, “I told them it was impossible because I’m a policeman.” His interrogator snarled at him, “Di, komunistang pulis. Kaliwang pulis. (A communist police. A leftist police.)”
Curameng, in his blue police uniform, looked aghast . Trained to fight lawless elements, which in police definition, include communists, “Komunistang pulis” was an oxymoron.
The same “communist” angle was also pursued by the interrogators on the four UMDJ members. Dennis Ibuna said they addressed him as “Kumander” and insisted that he was a member of the liquidation squad. They also asked him about the other names in the “hit list”.
Ruben Dionisio, who is still in the hospital with broken ribs and inflamed liver, had earlier told Eustaquio that he told his torturers he would admit to being a communist officer just to end the beating. But then, when asked about other members of the Metro-Rizal CPP chapter and could not produce, they resumed the beating.
The torture lasted three days until they were brought to the Department of Justice May 24, where they told they were being charged with rebellion for plotting to kill some members of the Arroyo Cabinet. Among the pieces of evidence presented was the service pistol of Curameng, which was confiscated by ISAFP agents when they were abducted.
Curameng said he has the memorandum receipt covering his service pistol.
Chairman Purificacion Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights, said the ISAFP agents are liable for a number of offenses from arising this operation. She mentioned trespassing, abduction, illegal arrest, detention, serious physical.
She said the fact that it was done in broad daylight showed the temerity of the operatives. She expressed concern that, if it could be done in Metro Manila to persons who have influential friends, what about those in the provinces who have no access to media and do not know personalities who will take up the cudgels for them?
The absence of military officials , who invoked the unconstitutional EO 464, in yesterday’s hearing only strengthened the public’s belief that the abduction was a government operation with the approval of the commander-in-chief.
The “communist” angle that ISAFP agents are pursuing connects with the series of killing of persons identified with progressive organizations or the Left, the latest of whom is Sotero Llamas, former leader of the New People’s Army in Bicol and consultant to the National Democratic Front in the peace negotiations with the government, who was gunned down the other day.
A reason is surfacing through all this madness. It all goes back to the illegitimacy of Gloria Arroyo’s presidency. She thinks she can erase that by suppressing dissent through EO 464, Calibrated Pre-emptive Response, Proclamation 1017 and Charter Change.
The Supreme Court has declared the first three illegal and unconstitutional. She will have to violate more laws to push through her Cha-Cha. Arroyo has reached a point where the only way for her to continue to hold on to power is to trash the law and be authoritarian to generate funds to pay those who prop her up or satisfy their demands in terms of positions and contracts.
The strategy is to create a situation of anarchy to justify the dictatorship that she is heading for.
- How Reynaldo Wycoco will be remembered
- Commissioner Garci's attempt to have COMELEC official Rashma Hali abducted
- How Gov't officials "rescued" Pidal witness Mahusay and GLORIAGATE whistleblower Vidal Doble
UPDATE: From Manong Ernie:
Col. Tristan Kison is either a fall guy following orders or is plain incompetent. He tries to explain his denial of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s involvement in the abduction of the “Erap 5” by saying Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Cmdr. Leonardo Calderon did not receive a report on the “arrest” until after 24 hours.
Colonel Kison is in effect saying two things: 1) that Calderon does not know what’s going on in Isafp and 2) Kison did not inquire with the Officer of Day or other Isafp senior officers about the matter.
Even after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada accused the Isafp of involvement, the official AFP answer was, “if the good senator has evidence, file a case in court.”
AFP Chief of Staff Generoso Senga’s defense of Colonel Kison is also unacceptable. Senga said “Kison has no knowledge of the operational activities of Isafp. That he doesn’t have the information. He can’t give information he has no knowledge of!” Precisely, he didn’t have the information because he did not ask for it.
If that was the case, then Kison (and Gen. Angel Honrado) should not have made an outright denial. He should have said “I will check with our units if they have five people in their custody.” By making a categorical denial that the AFP had the five in its custody, it is assumed Kison had done the necessary checking. If he checked properly and Calderon or some Isafp officers denied having them, then Kison must reveal the source or basis of his denial. Even Commodore Calderon should have said “I will check first.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon asked a very relevant question — why is the military exercising police function — the arrest should have been made by the Philippine National Police, not Isafp. Even FVR pointed this out too.
And Malacañang’s reaction was pathetic. “The arrest stopped an assassination plot. On the charges of irregular and unlawful arrest and torture — let the Armed Forces answer for themselves.”
Malacañang has no time for this sort of problem, they seem to say.