Fr. Dionito Cabillas, National Secretary General of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), today decried the recent abduction and torture of Elke Bacalso, son of former SELDA-Cebu coordinator and political prisoner Julian Bacalso, as an act perpetuated due to the continuing implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya, a counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo government which is continuously enforced by the government of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
According to reports from Karapatan-Cebu, Elke Bacalso, a 20-year old student of Bachelor of Arts in Education in Cebu Institute of Technology, was abducted by two men last September 8, 2010 at around 4:30pm near the CIT campus in Cebu City. Previously, last September 3, 2010, two armed men approached and dragged him to a waiting gray van near the CIT campus, then threatened him by saying “Kahibalo baya ko asa magpulong-pulong ang mga anak sa komunista. Di ba anak mo og komunista?” (I know where the children of communists hold their meetings. You (plural) are children of communists, right?”). Elke managed to free himself then and ran back inside the campus.
After Elke failed to go home the night of September 8, his family and members of Karapatan-Cebu reported the incident to the Philippine National Police offices. A very distraught Elke was later found at the Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish Church, municipality of Alcoy in Cebu on September 10. He later recounted that he was blindfolded the whole duration of his captivity as he was interrogated on his alleged illegal activities and the whereabouts of his father. Everytime his interrogators were displeased of his answers, he was hit with what he felt to be a stick on his left arm and he has a big bruise to show for it. He also reported that as they were travelling, he was transferred to three different vehicles and was brought to a safehouse where he heard the voices to the two men who attempted to abduct him on 3 September.
SELDA also said this characteristic pattern of abduction and torture has been the trademark pattern of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Oplan Bantay Laya. Under the pretext of counter-insurgency under the Arroyo government, there were 2,425 victims of arbitrary arrests, 1,092 of them were tortured. Among the victims are the illegally detained and tortured Morong 43, the group of doctors and community health workers who were illegally arrested last February.
“As long as counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Bantay Laya are being implemented, extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and torture by state agents are bound to continue. We condemn the continuing spate of human rights violations. We call on Pres. Aquino to immediately withdraw the Oplan Bantay Laya, to punish the perpetrators and to render justice for all victims of human rights violations,” Cabillas stated. (BICOLTODAY.com)