Tañada encourages detained health workers to file torture case against military

Office of Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
Chairperson: Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc. 7368 email:erin_tanada@yahoo.com

News Release- February 11, 2010
References: Erin Tanada-09193688555
Media officer: Laurice Ramos- 09228433311

Tañada encourages detained health workers to file torture case against military
Rep. Lorenzo ‘ Erin’ Tañada III, chair of the committee on human rights in Congress, warned the commander of the 202nd infantry brigade of the Philippine Army, Col Aurelio Balabad, against subjecting the 43 detained health workers to any kind of torture.
According to Tañada, “Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which was signed into law last 10 November 2009, defined the crime of torture as an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for the purpose of obtaining a confession, among other things,”
It has been reported that on the morning of Feb 6, at least 300 heavily armed elements of the combined forces of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (202IBPA) and the Rizal Provincial Philippine National Police (PNP) forced their way into the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal where a week-long training of community health workers sponsored by Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD) at Dr. Velmonte’s Farm was being held.
“I believe that the 43 health workers and media practitioners were arrested without a valid warrant and the reports coming in that they were subjected to torture during the 36 hours in Camp Pinpin wherein they were held incommunicado and were not allowed to talk to their families or lawyers, is very disturbing. Any kind of torture must stop immediately because they (the perpetrators) will be held accountable under RA 9745,” he added.
“I am encouraging the detained health workers to file cases of torture or violations of RA 9745 against the pertinent persons. According to accounts by the relatives, the detainees were subjected to hours of interrogation despite their demands for legal counsel. They were also forced to listen to sounds of gunfire and to admit that they were members of the New People’s Army. They were not allowed to speak to each other and were slapped several times.”
He likewise called on the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice to hasten the drafting and approval of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Law as torture cases seems to be piling up. Earlier, he also encouraged the Dumagats of Aurora who were subjected to torture by elements of 48th IB in Aurora, to use the law against their military abductors.

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