Human rights group marks June 26 as anti-torture day

Alleged torture of 9th Infantry Division of Philippine Army recruits in Bicol. Video grab
Alleged torture of 9th Infantry Division of Philippine Army recruits in Bicol. Video grab

By Joey Natividad
Special Correspondent

LEGAZPI CITY ( – Human rights group here declared June 26, Anti-Torture Day, as the day to remember the victims of torture, and on this day, 6 years ago, the abduction of two (2) University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan who were forcibly abducted by the military under the command of then Major General Jovito Palparan and were brought to Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

“This is the day to unite, with the rest of the world, in support of quest for justice by victims of torture who are mostly civilians caught in the internal conflict between armed groups of the state and rebel groups,” said John Concepcion, Bicol spokesman of human rights group, KARAPATAN.

“Many civilians had fallen as victims of torture and other dehumanizing acts inflicted by the Armed Forces and the police despite the passage of “Anti-Torture Act of 2009″ or Republic Act 9745,” said Concepcion.

KARAPATAN said that in Camarines Norte province, 46 civilians were repetitiously interrogated, intimidated, and threatened by government soldiers on suspicion that they were supporters or members of rebel group, New People’s Army. “Other civilians, out of fear, signed their names on blank papers while being photographed by military interrogators who will report later that they were rebel returnees who returned back to the government fold,” said Concepcion.

The human rights group cited the case of Allan Flores of Olag Grande village in Tinambac, Camarines Sur, who was blindfolded for 2 days by military abductors.

Among torture victims, only Edwilo Alforte of Sipocot, Camarines Sur, was brave enough to file a complaint in court against the Army unit in Bolo Sur village, Sipocot. The case is being handled by a government prosecutor.

The human rights group urged for the implementation of the Anti-Torture law, and called for the prosecution of military personnel involved in tortures, and for the arrest of former General Palparan, who is now a fugitive from justice. []

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