ISSUES: Torture; right to liberty and security; administration of justice.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a man who was abducted by soldiers, tortured and held incommunicado for over three months remains in detention over questionable charges.
After abducting him on January 9, 2009, the soldiers tortured him to confess his involvement to the bombing and burning of houses in North Cotabato. He suffered electric shocks to his sex organ and was deprived of food.
CASE DETAILS: (According to information received from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)-Mindanao)
On January 9, 2009 at 11am, Mansur Utto Salih was eating lunch with two others, Andy Makasaop and a person whose nickname is Gulam. At the time they were at Salih’s house and suddenly armed men entered. One of them shot at Salih prompting the latter to drop to the floor for cover.
Two men bound Salih and Andy's wrists, blindfolded and gagged them with adhesive tape.
The armed men then loaded Salih and Andy onto their vehicle that took them somewhere for about 30 minutes. In this place they could hear the sound of an airplane prompting them to believe that they must have been inside military headquarters of 6th Infantry Division (ID), Philippine Army (PA), in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. The military's headquarter is also located at the Awang Airport.
The two were then taken inside a room and the adhesive tape binding their wrists were replaced with handcuffs (the scars were still visible when the interview was conducted). Salih and Andy were held incommunicado separately. Salih later learned that Andy had been released but he could not determine when. Unlike Andy, however, Salih was held for over three months.
When interviewed on April 16, 2009, Salih spoke of the torture and ill treatment he endured. His ankles were chained and the soldiers applied electric shocks to his sex organ, his body and behind his ears. Each time they applied the electricity the held it against him for four seconds.
Whenever he fainted they poured cold water on his face and body. He could no longer recall how many times he fainted. Both his feet became swollen when they were struck repeatedly with an iron bar. He was also punched about the stomach and chest several times. Salih sensed that there were three persons questioning him while six others were torturing him. During the questioning he was also deprived of food and water.
For seven consecutive days, Salih had experienced the same ordeal. He also noticed that he had been taken to three different rooms in which he was interrogated and tortured. Within this period, he was only given food and water on two occasions. He also remained chained.
On January 16, 2009, Salih was loaded onto a vehicle, handcuffed and blindfolded and taken somewhere on a journey that he believes lasted for about three hours. Upon reaching their destination, he was taken to a room where he was fed. But, as soon as he finished eating he was shoved to the cement floor. There, he was held incommunicado for two weeks. During those two weeks he was not beaten but only fed only once a day, either breakfast or lunch.
After two weeks of his detention, his custodian began spoon feeding him. However, when Salih asked the custodian to feed him slowly so that he had enough time to chew the food he would be punched. If he allowed the food to fall the person feeding him would hit his mouth with a spoon, kick him and punched his face. He was also fed with one or two spoonfuls of chilies every meal.
His ordeal went on until March 28, 2009. On that day, he was taken back to the military headquarters at the Awang Airport where he was held until April 6, 2009. During the entire day of the journey he was not given food and water.
On one occasion from between March 28 and April 6, Salih recalled having been taken to a doctor. However, Salih said the doctor did not properly examine him. He was only asked if he was in pain and checked his blood pressure. Salih was reluctant to tell the doctor of his ordeal as he was hoping that, should he keep quiet about what had happened to him, they would release him.
However, on April 7, 2009 at 12noon, Salih was first taken and remanded to the North Cotabato Provincial Jail in Amas, Kidapawan City. Two of those taking him in custody made him sign some documents, the contents of which was also not properly explained to him. It was learned later that those who had remanded him to prison were soldiers. It was only after entering the jail that his handcuffs and blindfold were removed by a jail guard.
To cover up the incident, the soldiers who took custody of him, deliberately falsified the date they took custody of the victim to April 1, instead of January 9, 2009.
Salih later learned that he had been charged with two counts of frustrated murder, in connection with the bombing incident that took place in Kidapawan City, and 29 counts of Arson regarding the burning of houses that took place in 2008, reportedly perpetrated by a rebel commander before the Regional Trial Court in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Although Salih's case is being heard in courts in North Cotabato province, in June 2009 he was transferred to a jail in Bicutan, Metro Manila. His transfer was prompted by a resolution approved by members of City Council of Kidapawan City for his and several other detainees who are considered "high risk". The transfer took place after armed men attacked the North Cotabato Provincial jail.
The AHRC has documented cases wherein persons, mostly those persons who are accused of or suspected of perpetrating bombings, are subjected to brutal torture and held incommunicado at the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division's (ID), Philippine Army, at the premises of Awang Airport.
In April 2002, five persons, two of whom were at the time minors, were taken into the headquarters after having been arrested in separate incidents. They were accused of perpetrating the bomb blast in Davao City. They were blindfolded, electrocuted, beaten, and suffered dry and wet methods of suffocation to forced them to admit that they perpetrated the bombings.
In January 2004, a man was also tortured inside the headquarters. He was kicked, beaten and electrocuted. His fingers were squeezed after putting bullets in between them and he was forced to drink something that smelled like urine. They threatened to dump him into a canal and feed his sex organ to a dog.
In May 2007, two men, both belonging to Muslim minorities, were also tortured inside the headquarters following their arrest over allegations they were involved in incidents of bombing in Central Mindanao. They were also deprived of food.
Please write letters to the government agencies below to ensure that an impartial investigation is conducted into the abduction, torture and detention of the victim.
Those responsible, in particular the soldiers who remanded him to prison and the military leadership to the camp where he was held incommunicado, should be identified and prosecuted. The charges laid on him in court must be thoroughly reviewed. Once proven that the evidence on him was obtained by way of torture it must be withdrawn.
The AHRC has also written letters to the Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture asking for his intervention into this case.
Re: PHILIPPINES: Soldiers torture a man with electric shocks to his sex organ to force a confession
Name of the victim:
1. Mansur Utto Salih, 32 years old, married, a resident of Sitio Project, Ungap, Sultan Kudarat, Maguinadanao Province. He belongs to a Maguindanaon tribe. About nine persons interrogated and tortured him one after the other while he was held incommunicado inside a military camp in Barangay (village) Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. He is presently detained in a jail in Bicutan, Metro Manila.
2. Andy Makasaop. He was released without any charges ahead of Salih.
Alleged perpetrators: Soldiers attached to the 6th Infantry Division (ID), Philippine Army (PA) whose headquarters are located in Awang Airport.
Place where the victims were abducted: Sitio project, Upper Ungap, municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao
Date of incident: After he was abducted on January 9, 2009, he was held incommunicado detention until April 7, 2009.
I am writing to express my concern regarding the abduction, torture and detention of Mansur Utto Salih. He and his companion, Andy Makasaop, were abducted on January 9, 2009. They were taken to a place they came to know later as the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
Soon after arriving at the military camp, they were taken to separate rooms where they were subjected to questioning, torture and were held incommunicado. The adhesive tapes used to bind their wrists when they were abducted were then replaced with handcuffs. Their ankles were chained.
Although Makasaop had been released without charged, the soldiers kept Salih for over three months where he was subjected to questioning. He was tortured and moved from one interrogation room to the other.
For example, upon arriving at the Awang Airport on January 6, 2009, those questioning him applied electric shocks to his sex organ, his body and behind his ears several times. Each electrocution lasted about four seconds.
When he lost consciousness the soldiers poured water over him. His feet became swollen after being beaten with an iron bar. Those who tortured him forced him to confess masterminding the bombing incident in Kidapawan City and burning of houses in Midsayap, North Cotabato in 2008.
For seven consecutive days, Salih was tortured in the same manner in three different interrogation rooms. On those days, he was only given food twice and a glass of water. He could also not move properly as his ankles were chained and his eyes were blindfolded. The ordeal continued from the time of his abduction until he was remanded to the North Cotabato Provincial Jail in Amas, Kidapawan City on April 7, 2009.
I am extremely shocked at how the soldiers have treated the victim. The manner of his arrest, investigation and detention violates all the legal procedures that should have been strictly observed in arresting a person accused of a crime. Not only did the soldiers deliberately usurp the police power on arrest, they also turned their own military headquarters into a torture chamber.
Apart from Salih's case, there have also been previous cases in the past wherein persons, particularly those who are accused or suspected by the soldiers as having been involved in bomb attacks or rebel activities, have been tortured soon after being taken inside their military headquarters at the premises of Awang Airport, Cotabato City.
I therefore urge you to ensure that the victim's allegation of abduction, torture and being held incommunicado are thoroughly investigated. Should it be proven that the evidence used in the charges laid on him in court for bombing in Kidapawan City and burning of houses that took place in Midsayap in 2008 was taken by way of torture, they must be withdrawn. It is unacceptable that this person has had to face trial to charges that are questionable.
Lastly, I urge the Philippine government to live up to its obligation to the United Nation's Convention against Torture (CAT) to ensure protection to victims of torture. It should also take prompt action to ensure that the pending bill criminalizing torture is acted upon.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
4. Ms. Agnes Devanadera
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
5. Lieutenant General Victor S. Ibrado
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
AFP-GHQ Offices, Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo
Fax: +63 2 911 6436
Tel: +63 2 911 6001 to 50
6. Mr. Quinciano V. Bueno
CHR, Region 12
Pascua Bldg., Arellano Street
Tel: +63 83 5538887
7. Mr. Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr.
Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Bldg., Camp Emelio Aguinaldo
E. de los Santos Avenue
Fax: +63 2 911 6213
Tel: +63 2 911 9281 / 911 0488
8. Mr. Avelino Razon
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Pasig City 1605
Fax: +63 2 638 2216
Tel: +63 2 636 0701 to 066
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
ISSUES: Torture; right to liberty and security; administration of justice.