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Camp Aquino, Tarlac City (22 August) -- Upon invitation of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), Atty. Jasmin Navarro Regino, Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 3 conducted a seminar-lecture to AFP field unit commanders and other organic officers here on Friday regarding Republic Act 9745 otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
NOLCOM spokesperson Major Rosendo Armas said the seminar was an offshoot of Major General Gaudencio Pangilinan's declaration of his commitment to uphold human rights when he assumed command of NOLCOM on July 8, this year.
He wanted to make sure that every soldier especially the commanders are aware of their responsibilities and accountabilities as public servants because the full force of the law will be meted against recalcitrant or abusive soldiers.
The brigade commanders of the two Army divisions (5th ID, PA and 7th ID, PA) under NOLCOM were present together with the heads of military intelligence battalions/groups, security units, and representatives from the Naval Forces Northern Luzon and the 1st Air Division, Philippine Air Force.
Atty. Regino vividly explained salient provisions of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009. Accordingly, RA 9745 criminalizes all forms of torture - physical, mental, psychological and pharmacological (the latter is done through administering drugs). Moreover, the law disallows any justification for torture and other inhuman punishments. Torturers will be penalized as principals, as well as their superiors in the military, police or law enforcement establishments who ordered the torture.
Prior to the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, a commander is only liable administratively under the principle of command responsibility for acts committed by his/her subordinates.
Apparently, the law also requires the military and police to submit a monthly report listing all its detention centers, including safe houses, to the CHR. Those who maintain secret detention centers or fail to include a detention center in the list provided to the CHR will be penalized.
She further emphasized that the maximum penalty for violators of this act is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Other penalties range from a minimum of six months to a maximum of 12 years of imprisonment depending on the gravity of the offense.
The law also includes provisions for the protection of complainants and witnesses and persons involved in the prosecution and the establishment of a rehabilitation program for victims
The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9745 were discussed by Atty. Jesus C. Simbulan, Regional State Prosecutor and Atty. Oliver S. Garcia, Angeles City Prosecutor, both of DOJ Region 3.
Colonel Gerard Velez, Civil-Military Operations Chief of NOLCOM said knowledge of existing laws particularly this new Anti-Torture Act will serve as an effective reminder to all members of the AFP, PNP and other law enforcement agencies in performing their assigned tasks in a very professional manner.
RA 9745 was signed into law by the former president on November 10, 2009. (NOLCOM)