CHR ANTI-TORTURE ACT:  AFP CHECKING OWN CAMPS FOR TORTURE

The Armed Forces will help the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) monitor military camps to ensure that soldiers are complying with the Anti-Torture Act. In a text message, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said respect for human rights and the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is one of the pillars of the military’s security plan. “Every soldier is committed to uphold this and if found to have violated will be met with appropriate sanctions,” he said. “The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) fully supports the CHR by dutifully complying with the Anti-Torture Act.” “We recognize past mistakes and the AFP’s institutionalization of adherence to IHL and respect for human rights is the result.” The CHR has asked the Armed Forces for help in monitoring military camps to ensure that soldiers are complying with the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act following reports of the discovery of a police torture facility in Laguna.

ALSO: CHR chief wants to inspect military facilities for possible torture chambers

This handout photo that was released by the Commission on Human Rights on January 28, shows a roulette wheel that was allegedly used to pick a list of torture techniques used on prisoners in a house converted into a prison in Biñan, Laguna. Ten police officers have been suspended for running a secret prison where jailors wearing wigs and masks beat and abuse inmates.Following the discovery of a "torture cell" allegedly ran by local police in Laguna, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Etta Rosales said Friday that military facilities should also be inspected for possible torture chambers. At a press conference, Rosales said she has already directed government officials who are part of the national monitoring mechanism against human rights violations to also check on camps and other facilities ran by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) all over the country.

ALSO: CHR chief wants criminal charges vs. ‘wheel of torture’ cops

The 10 policemen suspended for allegedly running a “torture cell” in Laguna should face criminal charges, Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales said Thursday. “Sabi ko, dapat mag-file ng criminal charges, hindi lang administrative,” Rosales said in a phone-patch interview on GMA News TV's News To Go. “Kailangan nila ng reorientation. Kung sakaling guilty, they should be punished, and they should go to jail.” Following the discovery of the alleged torture cell in Biñan, Laguna, Rosales said other detention facilities in the country should also be monitored. “There are 79 provinces all over the Philippines. If the provincial director had set this up, how about the other provinces? Can we be assured na walang ganyan?” she said, pointing out that the torture cell in Biñan existed “just right under our noses.”

ALSO: Int'l media group frets over security of reporter who survived 2004 slay try

An international media watchdog group on Saturday (Manila time) expressed concern over death threats allegedly being received by a reporter who survived a murder attempt 10 years ago. Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres/RSF) said it is "very concerned" about the harassment and death threats against Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari Jr. “Sapanghari’s investigative reporting seems to be the main cause of these threats and there is every reason to be concerned, given the level of danger for media personnel in the Philippines and the impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. The RSF said Sapanghari, an investigative radio reporter for dxDB Radyo Bandilyo based in Valencia City in Bukidnon, has been receiving death threats since early December. His investigative reporting recently resulted in the arrests of a man allegedly implicated in illegal logging and a man suspected of involvement in trafficking in children. In November 2004, Sapanghari survived a murder attempt after he covered a corruption case that linked a municipal employee in neighboring Maramag.


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AFP checking own camps for torture


MANILA, FEBRUARY 3, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero - The Armed Forces will help the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) monitor military camps to ensure that soldiers are complying with the Anti-Torture Act.

In a text message, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said respect for human rights and the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is one of the pillars of the military’s security plan.

“Every soldier is committed to uphold this and if found to have violated will be met with appropriate sanctions,” he said. “The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) fully supports the CHR by dutifully complying with the Anti-Torture Act.”

“We recognize past mistakes and the AFP’s institutionalization of adherence to IHL and respect for human rights is the result.”

The CHR has asked the Armed Forces for help in monitoring military camps to ensure that soldiers are complying with the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act following reports of the discovery of a police torture facility in Laguna.

Marc Titus Cebreros, CHR information and communication division chief, said the military is prohibited from keeping people in detention.

“The CHR must make sure that first, the AFP is complying with this prohibition and second, it’s not maintaining any detention facility,” he said.

Signed in 2009 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Anti-Torture Act criminalizes physical and mental torture and other degrading punishment.

The law also prohibits solitary confinement in detention cells even during times of war.

Persons found guilty of torture can be imprisoned from six months to life, depending on the degree of the offense.

The law defines torture as “an act by which severe pain or suffering is intentionally inflicted for the purpose of obtaining information or confession, by or at the instigation or with the consent or acquiescence of a person in authority or his agent.”

FROM GMA NETWORK

CHR chief wants to inspect military facilities for possible torture chambers By ANDREO CALONZO,GMA NewsJanuary 31, 2014 1:48pm 46 9 2 75


This handout photo that was released by the Commission on Human Rights on January 28, shows a roulette wheel that was allegedly used to pick a list of torture techniques used on prisoners in a house converted into a prison in Biñan, Laguna. Ten police officers have been suspended for running a secret prison where jailors wearing wigs and masks beat and abuse inmates.

MANILA -Following the discovery of a "torture cell" allegedly ran by local police in Laguna, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Etta Rosales said Friday that military facilities should also be inspected for possible torture chambers.

At a press conference, Rosales said she has already directed government officials who are part of the national monitoring mechanism against human rights violations to also check on camps and other facilities ran by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) all over the country.

AFP/CHR "Hindi ba karumal-dumal iyon? Hindi ba kahayupan iyon? Kung nakita natin as late as ngayon, mayroon din siguro sa mga militar," the CHR chairperson told reporters.

Rosales added that her commission will also be inspecting provincial intelligence branches and regional offices of the Philippine National Police (PNP) across the country.

"Gusto talaga natin na no stones left unturned. Puntahan lahat ito... We will go all over the Philippines and do intensive work in trying to monitor, expose, oppose, and dismantle these facilities of torture," she said.

The CHR chief also warned military and police officials against dismantling torture chambers ahead of the inspection, saying they may be charged for tampering with evidence.

"Chances are they might dismantle, pero malalaman din natin iyan. Ang hahanapin natin kung may torture victims," she said.

She added that she is coordinating with the AFP's and the PNP's leadership to be able to put in place "systemic solutions" to stop incidents of torture by security officers.

For his part, Armed Forces information chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the AFP welcomes the possible inspection of military facilities.

Zagala said their human rights compliance has greatly improved as cases of violations have decreased in 2013—with only 11 cases.

In a separate text message, Zagala said that in 2010, 96 human rights violation cases were filed, while in 2011, there were 27, and in 2012, 15.

Zagala also noted that the military has eliminated the use of torture to extract information from suspects.

"Wala nang torture, kapag may mahuli, diretso agad sa police, we will take them to the nearest police station," he said.

'Wheel of torture'

Earlier this week, the CHR exposed a secret prison in Biñan town in Laguna where policemen allegedly beat up and abuse inmates using what has been called as a "wheel of torture."

The “wheel of torture” is a roulette wheel that the officers spin to determine what kind of punishment to be carried out on the inmate. One punishment, code-named Manny Pacman after Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, has an officer continuously punching an inmate for 20 seconds.

Another had a prisoner hung upside down, like a bat, for 30 seconds.

Ten policemen who were allegedly invoved in the operation of the reported torture cell have already been suspended and slapped with administrative charges.

On Thursday, however, Rosales said these police officers should also face criminal charges. — with Amanda Fernandez/RSJ, GMA News

CHR chief wants criminal charges vs. ‘wheel of torture’ cops January 30, 2014 7:13pm 167 15 0 206

The 10 policemen suspended for allegedly running a “torture cell” in Laguna should face criminal charges, Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales said Thursday.

“Sabi ko, dapat mag-file ng criminal charges, hindi lang administrative,” Rosales said in a phone-patch interview on GMA News TV's News To Go. “Kailangan nila ng reorientation. Kung sakaling guilty, they should be punished, and they should go to jail.”

Following the discovery of the alleged torture cell in Biñan, Laguna, Rosales said other detention facilities in the country should also be monitored.

“There are 79 provinces all over the Philippines. If the provincial director had set this up, how about the other provinces? Can we be assured na walang ganyan?” she said, pointing out that the torture cell in Biñan existed “just right under our noses.”

“We have to look into that, and there should be a relentless drive in order to monitor all the structures of the national police,” Rosales said.

The 10 policemen were suspended following the discovery of a secret prison where masked jailors allegedly beat up and abused inmates, and even features a “wheel of torture.”

So far the 10, led by Chief Inspector Arnold Formento, have only been charged administratively for grave misconduct.

The prison, which is not in the official list of Philippine National Police's detention facilities, is a converted house in a gated residential community and is reportedly run by an intelligence unit of the Biñan police.

The “wheel of torture” is a roulette wheel that the officers spin to determine what kind of punishment to be carried out on the inmate. One punishment, code-named Manny Pacman after Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, has an officer continuously punching an inmate for 20 seconds. Another had a prisoner hung upside down, like a bat, for 30 seconds.

Once charged criminally, the suspended officers can face life imprisonment if convicted of torture. — Amanda Fernandez/KBK, GMA News

Int'l media group frets over security of reporter who survived 2004 slay try February 1, 2014 8:04am 47 11 0 64

An international media watchdog group on Saturday (Manila time) expressed concern over death threats allegedly being received by a reporter who survived a murder attempt 10 years ago.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres/RSF) said it is "very concerned" about the harassment and death threats against Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari Jr.

“Sapanghari’s investigative reporting seems to be the main cause of these threats and there is every reason to be concerned, given the level of danger for media personnel in the Philippines and the impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

The RSF said Sapanghari, an investigative radio reporter for dxDB Radyo Bandilyo based in Valencia City in Bukidnon, has been receiving death threats since early December.

His investigative reporting recently resulted in the arrests of a man allegedly implicated in illegal logging and a man suspected of involvement in trafficking in children.

In November 2004, Sapanghari survived a murder attempt after he covered a corruption case that linked a municipal employee in neighboring Maramag.

In March 2010, several men beat him up, supposedly due to his report about the closure of pig farm.

Text messages

Citing recent data reaching it, RSF said Sapanghari has been receiving text messages threatening him and his family.

Also, it said Sapanghari also reported that people have been watching both him and members of this family during their movements around the city.

It urged Valencia City authorities to provide Sapanghari and his family with good protection "and to conduct an investigation in order to establish who is responsible for these threats.”

Latest threat

The RSF said Sapanghari did not take the threats seriously until Jan. 17, when a man with his face partially covered went to his home asked his wife where he was.

When the reporter's wife said he was at work, the masked man left on his motorcycle. The motorcycle's license plate number was concealed.

"Aware that he was in danger, especially after one of his friends was also threatened for helping him, Sapanghari requested protection from the Bukidnon police. He was assigned two police officers for his protection but they were withdrawn after a week," RSF said.

The RSF also noted one of the messages Sapanghari received in December said: “You’re not going to make it to Christmas. You’re next after Dignos.”

It referred to Joash Dignos, a journalist who was gunned down in Valencia City in November. Dignos was one of four journalists killed in the Philippines since September.

The others are Jesus Tabanao, Michael Diaz Milo and Rogelio Butalid.

RSF noted the Philippines ranked 140th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

"(T)he Philippines is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists," it said. — LBG, GMA News


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