CHR files torture case vs. North Cotabato cops


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30 April 2011

MindaNews and VERA Files

COTABATO CITY—The Commission on Human Rights’ Central Mindanao regional office has filed a torture case against a police superintendent and his subordinates after it concluded that they mishandled two suspects in the October 2010 bus bombing in Matalam, North Cotabato.

The CHR Region 12 office said it is convinced that Supt. Alexander Tagum, head of Investigation Task Group Rural Transit, and his men violated Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act. The torture case was filed April 7 at the Regional Trial Court in Kidapawan.

The suspects—Ibrahim Alimanan, 37, and Hadji Allamin Samal, 43—were arrested without warrant within 48 hours after the bombing of a Cagayan de Oro-bound Rural Transit bus on Oct. 21 that left 11 people dead.

They were taken from their homes in Purok Nayon Shariff inBarangay Rh-3 in Cotabato City after a 15-year-old boy confessed that he was paid an instructed by the suspects to plant the bomb.

Alimanan and Samal were taken to the North Cotabato Provincial Police Office where relatives were barred from seeing them. They were found after three days at the PNP headquarters in Kidapawan City beaten up, with broken ribs and traces of burns and bruises.

“Even if they have committed a crime, they have rights. They are considered innocent unlessproven guilty,” said CHR-12 Regional Director Christina Haw Tay.

Ironically, Tagum and his men received commendations from Interior Secretary Jesse Robredolast Oct. 28, a week after the bombing, for supposedly resolving the case quickly.

Alimanan and Samal are in detention facing charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder before Judge Laureano Alzate of the North Cotabato RTC Branch 22.

Alimanan and Samal’s case is one of the first few that will be tried under the recently enacted anti-torture law. The other high-profile cases that have been filed under the new law are the torture of suspected activist Lenin Salas by the police in Pampanga and that of robbery suspect Joselito Binayug by Manila policemen. Binayug’s torture was caught on video and gained national attention when it aired on major TV networks.


Under R.A. 9745, any law enforcer found to be liable can be imprisoned for up to 30 years.

The law prohibits authorities from holding anyone under secret detention, solitary confinement and other forms of detention where torture may be carried out with impunity. The police and military should also make available to the public an updated list of detainees and detention facilities in their areas and furnish CHR Regional Offices a copy.

The law also protects torture victims from harassment, threat or intimidation after the filing of the complaint. Before interrogation, they should be informed of their right to physical examination by an independent doctor and have immediate access to proper and adequate medical treatment.

The court has yet to grant the suspects’ request for a thorough physical examination.



October 21, 2010 — Around 10 a.m., an improvised explosive device exploded inside the Rural Transit Bus plying the national highway of Matalam, North Cotabato killing 11 passengers.

October 22, 2010 – Police arrested 15-year-old Piko Langkuban Tangkulo who confessed that he was allegedly paid and instructed by Ibrahim Alimanan and Hadji Allamin Samal to plant the bomb.

October 23, 2010– Police and army operatives raided the house of Alimanan and Samal and were arrested without warrant.

October 24, 2010 — Lawyers Zainuddin Malang, Atty. Rasol Mitmog Jr., and Dr. Sherjan Kalimof Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC) were denied access to the suspects despite a written request to see the arrested individuals.

October 26, 2010 – Samal’s wife and Alimanan’s mother together with CHR Region 12 and MinHRAC arrived at the North Cotabato Provincial Police Office but were informed that the two suspects were no longer in their custody and were transferred to the PNP Headquarters inKidapawan City.

At 6 p.m., a quick medical check-up was conducted at the Kidapawan City Hospital. Alimanan was found with hematoma on the lower left of his abdomen while Samal had upper back congestion.

October 28, 2010 — Multiple murder and frustrated murder charges were filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 22 in Kabacan, North Cotabato before the sala of Judge Laureano Alzate. Lawyer Samuel Fajardo is the prosecutor.

November 2, 2010– Atty. Abdul Hafiz Tan Adil Jr., counsel of the suspects, filed a Motion to Quash Information and Motion for thorough Medical Examination.

November 22, 2010— Dr. Sherlan Kalim, a physician of MinHRAC, conducted a thorough medical examination of Samal and Alimanan and concluded the two were tortured.

(This story is part of the VERA Files project “Human Rights Case Watch” supported by The Asia Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development.)

© 2011 VERA Files