Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The Philippines as a State Party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has agreed that torture, among others, is a crime under international law. It knows that torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Furthermore, the systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity. Torture must be abhorred.

While martial law was put to an end by an uprising of people, torture is still perpetrated unabatedly and with impunity. The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has documented the torture of more than 500 individuals during the present administration. UN Special Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, as well as the European Union’s Needs Assessment Team underscored the persistence of the torture phenomenon which in relation to arrests and detention is done with presumed regularity.

In 2001, the people willed to end the impunity consequent of plunder’s reign. Now is the time for all to will to expunge the impunity of torture and to effectively address its root causes in the violations of economic, social and cultural rights.
The immediate enactment of the legislation is necessary to initially protect the rights of people to be free from torture, and would be a sign of the international status of the Philippines as a defender of human rights.
Furthermore, there are still many countries in the Asian and ASEAN region where a law criminalizing torture is absent. Given the Philippines’ political weight and membership in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the signing gains an edge to influence others to take this positive step as well.

And lastly, the Freedom from Torture Law is necessary in order for the legal embodiment of the right not to be tortured to come full circle in the Philippines. The measure will ensure that the articles under Section 12 of the Bill of Rights under the Philippine Constitution, which stipulates the right to be free from torture, freedom from illegal detention, freedom from forced confessions and the right of torture victims to receive compensation and rehabilitation services, will redound to the lives of the people.

We strongly advocate the sentiments of the UN Committee Against Torture that: “The enactment of a domestic legal framework banning the use of torture in the Philippines is an absolute necessity.”

PAHRA thus urges President Arroyo to claim her place in our country’s history as the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the AFP who absolutely outlawed torture and made it unjustifiable under any circumstances. By immediately signing and enacting the Anti-Torture law she will bring the country in compliance with its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). By this act, she will strengthen the Filipino’s sense of justice and her administration’s will to break impunity.

Max M. de Mesa
October 25, 2009

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