June 25 – 2010 – The Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG), together with various human rights groups and activists ran as one and condemn torture. MAG, as one of the steering committee members of the United against Torture Coalition Philippines (UATC), worked with Amnesty International Philippines, the current UATC secretariat in organizing this annual event – Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT). The aforementioned gathering celebrated its 4th year of consolidating human rights groups in a mass run for human rights in commemoration of the International Day in Support of Tortures of Victims on June 26.
With the theme “Anti-Torture Act 0f 2009: Wala Nang Lusot ang Dapat Managot” (Impunity No More), all human rights defenders cried and chanted for justice for all human rights violation cases especially torture which affected hundreds of Filipino families, friends, workers, students and heroes.
The run started at about 8 a.m. with a bunch of police officers from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) which has been very supportive for the past couple of BRAT. Representatives of the Commission of Human Rights Philippines (CHRP) also took part in this worldwide advocacy – to STOP TORTURE and arrest the TORTURERS. About 300 participated in this event.
After an hour-run from CHRP to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Monument) in Quezon City, the groups gathered for a short series of talks from the organizations concerned. The Director of QCPD, on behalf of all police officers in the Philippine National Police (PNP) cried for a TORTURE-FREE environment. She said that the QCPD is in full support of this campaign and will not tolerate any forms of human rights violations in her watch. The CHRP representative also stated that their agency has been very open for support and communication to all rights groups in upholding human rights in the country.
The Chairperson of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) again reiterated that RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 should now give the power and authority to arrest the state agents who have been deliberately seizing and torturing innocent people from the barrios of the Philippines. The representative of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) reported their documented cases of torture as of June 15, 2010. Their statistics displayed 585 documented torture victims under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration. There are 3,275 victims of illegal arrests and detention and a total of 271 political prisoners and political detainees suffering in detentions nationwide as of June 15, 2010 (source, TFDP).
The Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG), as one of the pioneers in upholding and protecting the right to health as a basic human rights expressed its grievance to all the unsung heroes who were tortured and violated by the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). The Executive Director, Ms. Edeliza P. Hernandez, RN stated that the role of medical and health professionals in these times of insurmountable ordeal of human rights violation is nothing but important. The nurses, doctors, health practitioners, students and volunteers work hard to walk the streets of military zones, police detentions and jails just to document cases of torture with effective documentation (Istanbul Protocol). However, the role of the said health professionals hasn’t been maximized yet. She also asserted that MAG through its 28 years of existence will not stop to continue advocating its vision – a society where fundamental human rights are upheld and protected at all times in accordance with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Again, MAG still continues to implement programs and project to alleviate the suffering of many Filipino whose rights have been exploited and whose lives and dreams have been shattered by the state agents who conduct torture as their normal practice of investigation. With the help of all human rights supporters and advocates, MAG firmly believes and hopes that the state perpetrators will soon pay for what they have done and in the long run, eliminate all torture cases.