Torture in the Philippines

This video from the USA says about itself:

Filipino American Torture, Abduction Survivor Melissa Roxas: Graphic Torture Video a Rare Glimpse into Widespread Abuses in the Philippines\

Graphic footage of a man being tortured by police has sparked widespread public outrage in the Philippines and a government probe. The graphic cell phone video shows a man lying naked and bloody on the floor of an alleged police precinct in Manila. A plainclothes police officer is seen whipping him and tugging at a rope tied to the victim’s genitals while screams are heard. Over the past decade, torture, forced disappearance, political killings and imprisonment without trial have become commonplace in the Philippines. We speak to Melissa Roxas, a Filipino American who was abducted and tortured last year in the Philippines.

7 thoughts on “Torture in the Philippines

  1. Please forward as widely as possible!


    Date: 6 October 2010

    Time and venue: 6:30pm, Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre, London

    Human rights violations such as extrajudicial and summary killings and enforced disappearances continue in the Philippines with impunity. Victims of enforced disappearances come from all sectors of the society – from student activists to labour rights lawyers and human rights defenders.

    Families of the disappeared and the surviving victims continue their search for justice.

    This year, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, together with Amnesty International UK and UNISON will hold a public event to further raise awareness on the issue of enforced disappearances in the Philippines.

    Guest speakers include:

    Raymond Manalo, a farmer who escaped from captivity after being abducted by men describing themselves ‘vigilantes’, but widely suspected to be in the employ of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). He was subjected to torture, where he also witnessed the torture of two ‘disappeared’ students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

    Mrs Concepcion Empeño, the mother of one of the two missing activists who were abducted in 2006 while conducting a research in a rural village.

    Atty. Remigio Saladero, Jr, a well-known labour lawyer who was wrongfully arrested and detained for three months on trumped-up charges of murder.


  2. Gov’t responsible for rights worker’s death–UN
    By Leila B. Salaverria
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 23:23:00 10/02/2010

    Filed Under: Human Rights, Treaties & International Organisations, Crime

    THE UNITED Nations Human Rights Committee has found the Philippine government responsible for the 2002 death of human rights worker Benjaline Hernandez who was shot dead by paramilitary forces.

    “The committee, based on the material before it, finds that the [Philippine government] is responsible for the death of Ms. Benjaline Hernandez, and concludes that there has been a violation of article 6, paragraph 1, of the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] with regard to Ms. Benjaline Hernandez,” it said.

    The committee said the government violated its obligations to provide effective remedies to resolve Benjaline’s case, as required by the covenant.

    The Philippine government is obliged under article 6, paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the right to life and to prevent or refrain from the arbitrary deprivation of life.

    Benjaline’s mother, Evangeline, represented by the Karapatan human rights group, went to the UN to seek justice for her daughter.

    The Philippines is a party to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant.

    Benjaline, deputy secretary-general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, was conducting research on the impact of the peace process on the community of Arakan when members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit, led by a 7th Army Battalion officer, attacked the hut where she and several others were about to have lunch.

    An autopsy showed that Benjaline was shot at close range while she lay on her back.

    In its findings, the UN committee said that Benjaline’s killing by paramilitary forces was undisputed.

    It rejected the government’s denial that the military was responsible as no convincing evidence was submitted.

    It said the Philippines also failed to submit convincing information that it had taken action to fulfill its obligation under the covenant.

    Though the government filed a case against one officer and a few others, no one else had been prosecuted or brought to justice in connection with Bernardine’s killing, it said.

    It also said that while the government provided data on the establishment of the Melo Commission and handed down guidelines for special courts to address extrajudicial killings, it did not say how these initiatives would contribute to the resolution of Benjaline’s case.

    These actions also fail to explain the lack of progress in Benjaline’s case in the courts, it added.

    It pointed out that the State party (that is, the Philippines) is obliged to ensure that the remedies it employs are effective.

    “A State party may not avoid its responsibilities under the covenant with the argument that the domestic courts are dealing with the matter, when the remedies relied upon by the State party have been unreasonably prolonged,” it said.

    The UN committee told the government to submit to it information about the measures it has taken to address the committee’s views within 180 days.

    The government told the committee that Evangeline’s letter to the UN was premature and that she had not exhausted all the domestic remedies available to her.

    It denied that the cases Evangeline had filed before the courts and the Commission on Human Rights had been unreasonably delayed.

    It said it had taken other steps to address extra-judicial killing cases.


  3. RP war on terror toll on US: 11 GIs

    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 20:48:00 10/02/2010

    Filed Under: Acts of terror, Military, Security (general)

    ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The US military lost a total of 11 soldiers since joining the antiterror campaign in Mindanao in 2002, US and Philippine military officials had confirmed Friday.

    The Philippine military has so far lost 572 men in the campaign that also led to the fall of high-profile leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian arm of the international terror network Al-Qaida.

    But Lt. Col. Tracy Saiki, public affairs officer of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, clarified that the US soldiers were not killed in actual combat operations.

    He said in 2002, seven US military personnel died in a Chinook helicopter crash in Zamboanguita in Dumaguete City while transporting equipment from Basilan.

    Two US soldiers died in October 2002 during an explosion in Barangay Malagutay here, while two more died in another explosion in Indanan, Sulu, last year.

    On Friday, US and Filipino soldiers honored their fallen comrades during a memorial service for “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

    “These soldiers had committed to bringing peace and development,” Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command chief, said.

    He said there is consolation, though, in the losses.

    “They have been part of the success that we have gained today in combating terrorism,” he said.

    “These fallen soldiers dedicated their lives to make our country free from terror,” Dolorfino added.

    However, he admitted that despite the deaths of top Abu Sayyaf leaders, the battle against terror continues.

    Based on latest military information, a number of Abu Sayyaf factions continues to operate in Sulu and Basilan.

    The group was said to be coddling operatives of the JI, including the elusive Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

    Lt. Col. Saiki said, through the years, the US and Philippine military learned “so many lessons.”

    “We became smarter in the way we engage with lawless elements, our strategies improved,” he said. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao



    23 October 2010

    Mother of ‘disappeared’, torture victim, and multi-awarded Filipino actor

    to grace the premieres of “Dukot” in Amsterdam and Utrecht

    To lend more meaning to the premiere showings of the film “Dukot” in Amsterdam and Utrecht, The Netherlands on November 6 and 9, the mother of missing university student Karen Empeno, Mrs. Connie Empeno, and Raymond Manalo, a survivor of torture in the hands of the Philippine military, will be present during the event and will share with the audience their personal testimonies in a short forum right after the film-showing.

    Also expected to grace the premieres in Amsterdam and Utrecht is multi-awarded Filipino actor Ms. Gina Alajar, who have won national and international film citations for her roles in socially-relevant films. She will be joined by “Dukot” scriptwriter and distinguished Filipino playwright Boni Ilagan.

    The critically-acclaimed film “Dukot (Desaparecidos)” is set to begin screenings in several cities in Europe. After the premieres in Amsterdam and Utrecht, the film will also have screenings in the cities of The Hague and Alkmaar.

    The film tackles a most controversial reality in the Philippines today, that of enforced disappearances. “Dukot” is based on true stories.

    Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of members of the political opposition is a disturbing trend in the Philippines today. Since 2001, the year Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president, over one thousand cases have been recorded by the human rights organization Karapatan. Not a single case of enforced disappearance has been solved.

    Mrs. Connie Empeno or Nanay (mother) Connie, as she is now fondly called, is vice-chairperson of Desaparecidos – an organization of families of the disappeared in the Philippines, and mother of Karen who was abducted by military men in Bulacan province in June 2006. Raymond Manalo is a farmer (and who is now a volunteer human rights defender with Karapatan – the national human rights organization in the Philippines), who was also abducted in 2006 in Bulacan province, heavily tortured by the military who accused him of being a member of the armed guerrilla movement. He was able to escape his captors and related his harrowing ordeal to the public, including testifying that he saw Karen Empeno and another abducted student activist, Sherlyn Cadapan, tortured by the Philippine military in the same military camp where he was tortured and kept.

    Nanay Connie and Raymond are currently in Europe upon the invitation of Amnesty International and the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines-UK, to speak about their personal ordeals, ask for solidarity to find their disappeared loved ones, ask for support to end human rights violations in the Philippines and to prosecute former president Gloria Arroyo and her military for these human rights abuses. They will also be present during the film showings in Belgium and Italy.

    “Dukot” is the first full-length film produced and directed by commercial Filipino producers, director and actors, to challenge the Philippine government denial of complicity in the killings and abductions. It poses a challenge to the current government of President Benigno Aquino III – who has yet to act decisively to end the impunity and make Gloria Arroyo and the military establihsment accountable for heinous human rights violations during her term.

    After its premiere in the Netherlands, “Dukot” is scheduled to tour the cities of London (UK), Brussels (Belgium), Vienna (Austria), and Rome (Italy).

    “Dukot” is directed by award-winning filmmaker Joel C. Lamangan, and written by veteran playwright Bonifacio P. Ilagan. Aside from Allen Dizon and Iza Calzado, the cast includes outstanding Filipinos actors Gina Alajar, Snookey Serna, Emilio Garcia, Robert Arevalo, and Felix Roco.

    The premiere showing in Amsterdam is on November 6, Saturday, from 7pm, at the VKG auditorium, ground floor, Wibautstraat 150, 1091 GR Amsterdam. Gates will open at 6pm. Ticket is at 10 euro. The Utrecht premiere will be on November 9, Tuesday, from 6pm, at the Louis Hartlooper Complex. Attire for the premiere is semi-formal (smart, casual).

    The screenings will be followed by a short sharing by Nanay Connie and Raymond Manalo.

    The ‘Dukot’ Europe tour is being coordinated by Migrante Europe together with the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, in cooperation with local migrant and solidarity organizations in the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Austria and Belgium.

    For more information on the European screenings of ‘Dukot’, please contact:

    Grace Punongbayan

    MIGRANTE Europe

    Mobile: 06 33056411

    Migrante Europe

    Postbus 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam



  5. (Interview by Ms. Myrtille van Bommel of Radio Netherlands Worldwide facilitated by MIGRANTE Europe)

    Philippine disappearances remain a mystery

    Published on : 27 October 2010 – 1:42pm | By Myrtille van Bommel

    Radio Netherlands Worldwide


    Concepcion Empeno and Raymond Manalo are on a brief visit to the Netherlands. The two human rights activists are travelling across Europe at the invitation of Amnesty International. They are here to talk about human rights violations in the Philippines. Their lives have been devastated by their experiences.

    As the two smile shyly for a photograph, there’s nothing about them that would make you think they have experienced terrible things. Concepcion Empeno works for Desaparecidos, an organisation for the relatives of missing Filipinos. Raymond Manalo, a 29-year-old farmer, was abducted in 2006 with his brother by armed security troops. He was systematically tortured during his 18-month detention in various camps.

    Few people, who have been tortured in camps, survive to tell the tale. Mr Manalo and his brother, however, managed to escape… but only just.

    “They had already poured gasoline on me when suddenly one of the torturers of the military called someone by cell phone. The military were referring to her as madam, a woman. That person said that they didn’t have to kill me. So they stopped trying to burn me alive.”

    Since their escape, Mr Manalo has fought for justice against the government. His life has been devastated by what happened to him. He and his brother are accused of being members of a paramilitary group, the New People’s Army. They deny the allegations. In spite of numerous court cases, their torturers have never been brought to justice.

    Mr Manalo’s story is by no means unique. Many farmers, union members, journalists and students have disappeared in recent years. Officially, more than 300 people have been reported missing by their families. However, the Philippine human rights organisations Karapatan and Desaparecidos think there are probably several thousand cases.

    Like the case of the daughter of Concepcion Empeno, who disappeared in June 2006 with a fellow student during field work. The two women were researching the singing culture of farmers. Nothing has been heard from them since.

    The only thing Ms Empeno knows for sure is that the students are being held by security troops. Raymond Manalo spoke to them during his own incarceration. The women were seriously abused and raped by soldiers. Nevertheless, Ms Empeno hopes that her daughter is still alive.

    She has little to say about the army’s motives to abduct her daughter.

    “It’s because of this counter-insurgency of the government, which decides that once you are an activist, you are a critic of the government, you are considered an enemy…. So that’s it. You should be phased out or wiped out in the world… daughter was a victim of this.”

    The disappearances began five years ago under the government of former president Gloria Arroyo. The students were probably arrested for defending farmers’ rights.

    Urgent appeal
    The current President Benigno Aquino III promised to put an end to human rights violations and lawlessness in his country when he came into office. But, more than three months later, little has been done, say the two Filipinos. That is why Concepcion Empeno is making an urgent appeal to the international community:

    “To prosecute the former president Arroyo for her crimes against humanity and the officers of the armed forces of the Philippines, and finally: to urge the Philippine government to use all its power to surface the victims of enforced disappearances.”



    14 November 2010

    Premiere screenings of “Dukot” (Desaparecidos) in the Netherlands get warm reception

    Filipino and Dutch audiences warmly received the European premiere in the Netherlands of the controversial film ‘Dukot’ (Desaparecidos) that was initially banned from commercial exhibition by the Arroyo government because of its realistic portrayal of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

    The successful premiere screenings of ‘Dukot’ in Den Haag, Amsterdam, Alkmaar and Utrecht were attended by hundreds and supported by many sponsors and patrons. Audiences were moved by the film that is based on true-to-life stories.

    Mrs. Coni Empeno, whose daughter Karen is a ‘desaparecido’, and Raymond Manalo, who was forcibly disappeared for 18 months but later escaped from his military captors, were present in the screenings in Den Haag, Amsterdam, Alkmaar and Utrecht to give their account of their personal ordeals.

    One of the lead actresses in the film, Ms. Gina Alajar, also graced the screenings and was warmly applauded for her sensitive depiction of a mother whose daughter went missing after being abducted by armed men believed to be from the Philippine military.

    “Hindi pa ako nawalan ng anak. Pero ramdam ko ang sakit ng mawalan ng anak” (I have not lost a child, but I could feel the pain of losing one), remarked Ms. Alajar in one of the forums.

    “Saludo ako sa inyo, sa mga katulad nyo na tumitindig sa inyong paniniwala at sa inyong katapangan”, Alajar further said (referring to Mrs. Empeno, Raymond Manalo, and Filipino exiles in the audience who suffered political persecution in the Philippines).

    Mrs. Empeno and Raymond, are in Europe upon the invitation of Amnesty International and the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines-United Kingdom, to share their stories with Europeans and Filipinos, and call for solidarity to stop human rights abuses in the Philippines. The International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICCHRP) and the Nederlands-Filipijnse Solidariteitsbeweging (Dutch-Philippines Solidarity Movement), on the other hand, are coordinating their speaking tour.

    In her remark in one of the forums, Mrs. Empeno said:“Si Karen, ang anak ko, ang nagmulat sa akin sa mga tunay na nangyayari sa ating bayan. Hanggang nabubuhay ako, ipagpapatuloy ko ang sinimulan ni Karen” ( Karen, my daughter, opened my eyes to what is really happening in our beloved country. As long as I live, I will continue what Karen has started).

    Nanay Connie, as Mrs. Empeno is fondly called, would always be seen clutching a black notebook wherever she goes, holding it close to her heart, as if it were her missing daughter. She would never fail to ask the audience after every forum to sign that notebook that contains the signatures she has been collecting since she started her Europe tour (she has so far collected more than 2,000 signatures) and prefaced by a short letter addressed to President Benigno Aquino III calling on him to surface the disappeared, stop extrajudicial executions, end human rights abuses, and to prosecute Arroyo and her cabal for their crimes against the Filipino people.

    Raymond Manalo’s account of his experience of torture and daring escape from his military tormentors has shocked the audience at the brutality of his abductors. After telling his story, he would always ask his compatriots and their European friends to support the campaign for human rights in the Philippines.

    “Dukot” scriptwriter Boni Ilagan, who was also a guest during the premiere screenings, enjoined both Filipinos and Europeans in the audience to show solidarity with the message of the film by defending human rights wherever and whenever they are abused and violated. “Human rights is one thing that binds us all globally”, Ilagan emphasized.

    Among those who attended the screenings in the Netherlands were representatives of Amnesty International, members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace Panel, (Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, Julie de Lima and Fidel Agcaoili), Munting Nayon (community newspaper), leaders and members of several Filipino migrant organizations, Dutch and Belgian solidarity friends, representatives of several Dutch NGOs, Filipino community business leaders, Filipino compatriots and other migrants.

    The November 6 premiere in Amsterdam, also coincided with the internationally-coordinated mobilization to call for the release of the Morong 43, a group of doctors, nurses and community health workers arrested and detained on fabricated charges. Ms. Gina Alajar joined Filipino human rights activists in Amsterdam in signing the petition for the release of the 43 health workers, and in the photo shoot, right after the film showing.

    Following the successful screenings in the Netherlands, the film is scheduled to be shown in several other cities in Europe, namely, Rome (Nov. 14), Vienna (Nov. 28), London (Dec. 4), and Bern, Switzerland (Dec. 4). Other screenings are scheduled in Bologna, Italy, Copenhagen, Denmark, Brussels, Belgium and cities in Germany.

    The European tour of “Dukot” is an initiative of Migrante Europe together with the ICCHRP in cooperation with several Filipino migrant organizations and solidarity groups across Europe working together out of concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines, particularly with the recent extension by President Aquino III, of the so-called counter-insurgency program known as “Oplan Bantay-Laya” (Operation Freedom Watch).

    Dukot was directed by award-winning film director Joel Lamangan and penned by acclaimed Filipino scriptwriter Bonifacio Ilagan. It portrays the love story of a young activist couple played by Filipino actress Iza Calzado and award-winning dramatic actor Allen Dizon who were abducted and tortured by Philippine state security forces. Lamangan and Ilagan, both former political prisoners during the Marcos dictatorship, based Dukot on the real-life cases of killings, abductions, and torture in the Philippines that were filed with the United Nations by survivors, families of victims, and human rights advocates.

    In 2007, a report submitted by United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston pointed to the culpability of the Philippine military in perpetrating thousands of cases of extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture since 2001 under the government of former President Gloria Arroyo. Unfortunately, grave violations of human rights continue to this day.#

    For reference:

    D. L. Mondelo

    MIGRANTE Europe


    Postbus 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.