Torture Survivor Files Charges vs Perpetrators


Survivor of torture and abduction filed administrative, criminal and civil charges against his captors, including retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and Maj Gen. Juanito Gomez.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 32, September 14-20, 2008

A survivor of torture and abduction filed administrative, criminal and civil charges against his captors, including retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and Maj Gen. Juanito Gomez.

Raymond Manalo, together with his lawyer Rex Fernandez, filed criminal and administrative cases against his military captors September 12 at the Office of the Ombudsman, and a civil case at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

The respondents were accused of kidnapping, arbitrary detention, physical injuries, threats, involuntary servitude, torture, among others.

Administrative complaints for gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, gross oppression and for acts unbecoming of a public official were also filed.

Other respondents were soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

Ordeal

In an interview, Raymond said he and his brother Reynaldo were held captive from Feb. 14, 2006 until their escape on Aug. 13, 2007.

In his sworn statement, Raymond said they were abducted in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, and were detained in three military camps and two safehouses. They were first brought to Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija before being transferred to Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan and later in a safehouse in Zambales. They were again transferred to the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Battalion in Limay, Bataan and finally, to another safehouse in Pangasinan where the brothers escaped on Aug. 13.

He also said that he personally saw Palparan participate in the torture of activists.

He said he had long been planning to file charges against the perpetrators. “Ngayon lang ako naka-recover sa trauma inabot namin.” (I have just recovered from the trauma we experienced.)

Raymond said they were subjected to various forms of torture: “Nilulublob sa tubig, minamartilyo ang kamay, hinahampas ng dos-por-dos, iba-ibang klase… Nariyang pasuin ng apoy, buhusan ng mainit na tubig, buhusan ng gasolina, paluin sa likod ng barbed wire o kadena.” (Our heads were forcibly submerged in water, our hands were hit with hammers, we were clubbed with wood 2inches wide by 2 inches thick, we had hot water and gasoline poured on us, we were whipped at the back with barbed wire and chains.)

He said the soldiers were forcing them to admit that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA is a revolutionary armed group under the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Raymond continued, “Hangga’t hindi nagdurugo, hindi nila kami nilulubayan. Ang iba, di na nila nakayanan ang karahasan” (They did not stop until we bled. Others were not able to withstand the violence.)

Raymond witnessed the torture of two University of the Philippines (UP) students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño inside a military camp. He testified during the hearing of the writ of amparo case filed by the mothers of the two UP students before the 11th Division of the Court of Appeals. The two women and their companion Manuel Merino are still missing up to this day.

He said he wants justice not only for himself but also for other victims of human rights violations.

Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, joined Raymond in the filing of cases. She said, “Maraming involved. Isinawalat ng survivor na marami siyang nakitang dinukot, tinotortyur at tinatratong hindi makatao. Sana makatulong ang Ombudsman sa mga kaanak ng biktima.” (Many are involved. The survivor testified that he saw victims of abductions being tortured and treated inhumanely. I hope the Ombudsman will help the families of the victims.)

Strong case

Raymond’s lawyer Fernandez said that the Office of the Ombudsman should act swiftly on the case. He said that the fact that Raymond was granted the writ of amparo means that the evidence is strong.

The Manalo brothers filed a petition for the writ of amparo on October 24, 2007.  The Court of Appeals (CA) granted their prayer for protection.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights) secretary general, said that Raymund deserves all the support. “He is courageous. In spite of all odds, even if his enemies are powerful and even if the Ombudsman has a bad record, Raymond is determined to obtain justice.”

Enriquez explained that previous cases filed by victims of human rights abuses before the Ombudsman have not yet been resolved. She cited the cases filed by Lourdes Rubrico and Oscar Leuterio. Both were abducted by state agents in separate incidents. Leuterio also witnessed the torture of Empeño and Cadapan. He also saw the Manalo brothers inside Fort Magsaysay.

Enriquez also mentioned the cases filed by Hacienda Luisita workers and by the victims of the violent dispersal of a rally in October 2006.

Enriquez said, “I hope they will not deny the existing remedies to the victim.”

Raymond said, “Kahit gaano katagal, hindi kami susuko. Ang mahalaga mabigyan ng katarungan ang nangyari sa amin.” (However long this takes, we will not give up. What is important is that we get justice for what was done to us.)  Bulatlat

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