August 27, 2010
This is the call of the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC)-Philippines on the denial of Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug during a Senate hearing that he was the police officer shown in a video torturing an alleged robbery suspect in a police precinct in Asuncion, Tondo.
The coalition said “while we laud the Senate inquiry on Binayug, we need more than an inquiry”.
Edeliza P. Hernandez, one of the spokespersons of the group and Executive Director of Medical Action Group (MAG) said “we are deeply concerned that torture and ill-treatment committed by the police are seldom investigated and prosecuted and that torturers are either rarely convicted or sentenced to lenient penalties that are not in accordance with the grave nature of their crimes.”
Under the Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the perpetrators if the torture resulted in the death of any victim.
The group likewise urges Pres. Aquino to announce a policy of total elimination against all acts of torture and to fully implement the anti-torture law. Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo who was also present during the Senate hearing, claimed they are aware of the recent reports of torture incidents by the police around the country.
UATC also stressed that “the video is a prima facie evidence of torture in Asuncion police precinct which sheds light that torture and ill-treatment on alleged suspects is said to be part of a “routine” by the police and attests that this dark practice is widespread in the country.”
While the PNP has filed charges against Binayug and eight other policemen, the group stressed that “Binayug and his subordinates should be subject to suspension during the process of investigation to avoid risk that he might impede the investigation. And such investigation should not be undertaken by or under the authority of the police but an independent body.”
The group reiterates its grave concerns over the climate of impunity for perpetrators of acts of torture by the police and similar incidents and investigations in the past shows that instead of prosecuting the torturers these has focused on prosecuting the victims and witnesses.
Under our Constitution and the Anti-Torture Act, torture is a crime. How can police officers like Binayug and others of that ilk be made to heed these laws? More than inquiry must be done.
The UATC-Philippines is a coalition composed of several human rights non-government organizations and institutions working together in defending human rights and in the fight to eliminate the use of torture in the Philippines.
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