Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Manila Times August 19, 2009 EDITORIAL Enact the Anti-Torture Law

The Manila Times August 19, 2009


Enact the Anti-Torture Law

The Filipinos seem to be decreasingly proud of having a large population of Christians—despite the show of affection by millions for the notably Christian late former President Cory Aquino.

This is because they can see that people in power are remarkably lacking in the Christian virtues. Corruption in high and low seats of power is a pervasive unchristian characteristic in our country. These corrupt powerholders’ insensitivity to the extreme poverty and hunger of a large portion of our people is another sign of their Godlessness.

Cruelty and abusiveness of officers

The cruelty and abusiveness of law-enforcement and military officers and personnel are another unchristian vice in our country. These officers commit abuses and practice torture with impunity.

Torture of actual communists and suspected communists was prevalent during the martial law regime. Many of the torturers then, far from being punished for having practiced their satanic art on victims who have lived to narrate their sufferings, have even become so rich and so politically powerful that they are immune from arrest and accountability. Their continued presence in our society mocks of our claim to be a civilized people. Not only are the martial-law era torturers still around. They have even spawned a new breed of state-employed torturers.

The latest example of a torture victim is the Filipino-American Melissa Roxas. She has tearfully and publicly sworn to the truth of her claim that she was abducted and tortured by military agents. Her detractors (who are suspected by many and identified by some witnesses as human rights abusers involved in the murder of militants) claim that Melissa Roxas is in fact a communist rebel. They have shown a video of someone who looks somewhat like Melissa participating in what appears to be a New People’s Army training drill. Melissa and some witnesses swear the girl in the video is someone else—the person that her torturer-abductors mistook Melissa to be.

Torture is inhuman, abhorrent, immoral—unchristian. The law-enforcement and military officers who practice it must be stopped and punished. But it is difficult to get to them. Their superiors are allowed to shield them from civilian prosecutors. If apprehended, they can only be charged with abduction, illegal detention and infliction of bodily harm now in our criminal statutes.

That situation is about to change. An “Anti-Torture Act” could become a part of the law of the land before August ends.

Bicameral conference committee approval

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