SUSPECTS STILL TORTURED IN RP AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Jan. 25, 2003 - Physical torture to extract information or confessions from suspects remains rampant in the Philippines, Amnesty International said yesterday. This despite the Philippine government's ratification of human rights conventions,

AI said among the widely used methods of torture are: electrocution, suffocation using plastic bags, beatings making use of metal pipes, placing chili peppers on eyes and genitals as well as burning with cigarettes.

"The persistence of torture and ill-treatment in the Philippines highlights a serious discrepancy between the law and its application within the criminal justice system," Amnesty, in a statement, said, citing results of its own investigation and documentation.

"Yet torture persists, constituting one of the most serious assaults on the principle of respect for human dignity," it added.

The human rights organization said the methods of torture being applied at present were reminiscent with those used during the 1970s and 1980s.

The group cited the celebrated case of the so-called Abadilla Five in which five suspects were allegedly tortured to confess to the murder of a controversial officer, Col. Rolando Abadilla, in 1996.

The five suspects were convicted and sentenced to death despite the lack of evidence and a statement from communist insurgents who owned up to the killing.

The Justice department had ordered authorities to reopen an inquiry into the case after a newspaper ran an investigative report on the alleged tortures.

The Philippine government should now work on a legislation defining torture and punishing police officers and military personnel who may commit such acts, Amnesty said. (Tribune)


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