Human Rights group condemns, urges government to probe tortures in Basilan, Sulu

We, members of the Mindanao Anti-Torture Alliance (MATA), a regional anti-torture and human rights group are urging the government specifically the Philippine military and the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an urgent probe on the alleged cases of torture in Basilan and Sulu provinces perpetrated by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

At the same time, we condemned to the highest degree such barbaric act allegedly committed by these soldiers who are supposed to be the civilians’ protectors in two separate incidents.

One of the victims was identified as Abdul-Khan B. Ajid, 39, a bakery owner, and lives in Libug, town of Sumisip in Basilan, who became a victim of brutality by soldiers of the Philippine Army based in the island province.

Reports received from Basilan-based group called Basilan Human Rights Center (BHRC) is disturbing and should not be taken lightly.

BHRC said Mr.Ajid was arrested at around 5 in the morning at his residence on July 23, Saturday in a questionable manner. The victim according to the group was mistakenly identified as ‘Kanneh Malikil’ of the Abu Sayyaf group.

“The military allegedly poured gasoline on the victim and lighted him causing him severe burns,” the group in the same report to MATA, said.

BHRC added that the victim claimed that soldier torturers used a soda bottle to fill his anus with gasoline, a plane and simple beastly acts of torture which is condemnable.

Lincoln Undug Tulawie in a report to rights group alleged that a certain 1st Lt. Toledo of the Elite Force Recon had tortured him along with his two other friends in a beach in Patikul town. Mr. Tulawie who is a resident of Jolo, reported that the Marines, led by Mr. Toledo, were under the influence of alcohol when they manhandled the victims. Mr. Tulawie added that Mr. Toledo had intimidated and threatened to kill him and his friends.

“As advocates of human rights in this part of the country, we strongly condemn all acts of torture no matter who committed them. The people who are responsible for these horrible deeds must be punished.”

We believed that torture and any arbitrary violation of human rights have no place in a civilized society like us. Let us be reminded that the Philippines is a State party to the Convention Against Torture and other Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In recognition of these international obligations, domestic legislations have been enacted by Congress to eradicate torture.

We are therefore, calling on all relevant agencies of the government: the human rights office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights, the local government units of Basilan and Sulu, to step in to conduct their independent, impartial and unbiased investigation on the case.

“These incidents call for a strong local and national united action to put an end to this brutality – the terror of torture. Whoever is proven guilty of this inhumanly and dastardly acts must be held to account for their actions.”

We noted that in a report by the Human Rights Watch published July 18, this year, it cited that the Philippine government’s failure to investigate and prosecute extrajudicial killings fuels further military abuses.

“The government should ensure that officials vigorously investigate serious human rights violations or face disciplinary action.” (MATA)