Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Justice secretary condemns torture in military recruits’ training - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Justice secretary condemns torture in military recruits’ training - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Justice secretary condemns torture in military recruits’ training
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 15:33:00 03/20/2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should not invoke military training to justify the use of torture and other forms of physical abuses on its recruits, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima stressed on Sunday.

Reacting to the posting of “torture videos” on the Internet, featuring soldiers beating up their trainees, De Lima condemned the actions of some erring military training officials of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (ID) based in Pili, Camarines Sur.

“Torture – for whatever purpose – is reprehensible. Its prohibition is and ought to be absolute and unqualified,” De Lima said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Asked if she would move for an investigation, the justice secretary replied: "Yes, but I would prefer that CHR (Commission on Human Rights) do it at this point.”

The two disturbing videos were uploaded on the highly popular video-sharing website YouTube by Isnayp, a group describing itself as the “media of the revolutionary movement in the Bicol region.”
In 2010, a similar video showing a Manila policeman subjecting an inmate to torture inside a police detachment sparked international rage.

Since the two videos on military torture were posted on March 15, the videos have generated over 2,300 views and dozens of scathing remarks against the AFP from infuriated viewers.

“Soldiers deserve to die in encounters and ambuscades because of their cruelty,” said user royallander.

Said imranbk22: “It’s against? human rights and humanity. They are? treated worse than animals.”
In a phone interview with the INQUIRER on Saturday, 9th ID spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc admitted that the soldiers seen on the disturbing videos were members of the Army command’s military training unit.

Cabunoc said the cruel beatings inflicted on the hapless trainees were part of the Army’s “escape and evasion” technique in 2008 to purportedly simulate the harm that they could suffer if they were captured by the communist rebels.

The Army spokesman, however, said the military trainers involved had either been relieved from their post or discharged from the service.

He said the AFP had also initiated reforms in its training modules since then, such as prohibiting physical contact between the trainers and their trainees.

Cabunoc said the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has been using the footage to “discredit” the military and cover up what he called the insurgents’ own human rights abuses in Bicol.

But De Lima said the AFP hierarchy should not have allowed its training units to include torture or other rude physical drills in their training modules.

“Freedom from torture is a non-derogable human rights under any circumstance, irrespective of who the subjects/victims are,” the justice secretary pointed out.

Meanwhile, the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the videos should prompt the House of Representatives to conduct a congressional inquiry into the cruel military trainings.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said it was “not enough” for the military to just acknowledge the authenticity of the footage.

“It is not enough to say that the incident is already behind the AFP. The public deserves to know who were behind the cruel and inhuman treatment of (the) recruits,” Reyes said, adding: “The AFP should disclose the results of any official investigation as well as the official actions taken by the AFP leadership.”


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