|Photo by Bantay Ceasefire|
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC) write to inform you about the arrest and alleged torture committed to a native of the Yakan tribe in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province, island of Mindanao. He was arrested on July 23, 2011 at about 5:30 in the morning. The alleged perpetrators were members of Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) belonging to 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario.
VICTIM Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, 39 years old, married
DATE OF INCIDENT July 23, 2011 at about 5:30 a.m.
PLACE OF INCIDENT Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province
Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, a native of a Yakan tribe, and a baker for eight (8) years was forcibly taken inside their house on July 23, 2011 at about 5:30 in the morning, in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province, and later tortured by his captors. The alleged perpetrators were members of Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B), belonging to 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario.
According to Noraisa Imban Induh, Ajid’s wife, midnight of July 22, they already sensed that there were some persons monitoring outside their house. At 4:30 the following morning, she and her wife were already awake. While Ajid was preparing the dough, a stone was thrown at their house and then somebody kicked the door and forcibly opened it. A group of uniformed men wearing camouflage entered their house. Ajid was ordered to lie face down. He was kicked at the back and both of his hands were tied using a plastic straw.
Noraisa said that two (2) of their children who were present during the incident lost consciousness because of fear upon seeing soldiers with long firearms. The soldiers searched every part of their house and destroyed their belongings, as well as the ingredients and equipment in the bakery. Noraisa was asked if they possessed a gun. She answered in the negative.
After searching the house, the soldiers then grabbed Ajid who was still lying face down on the ground. He was dragged out of the house and was made to walk towards an approaching six-by-six truck. Reportedly, there were about 40-50 soldiers involved. Ajid was told that he will be brought for investigation.
Ajid narrated that he was first brought to Magdal place and stayed there for 15 minutes. They then passed by Tipo-tipo, Basilan and went to a military brigade. He was blindfolded throughout their travel but he managed to see a little bit so he was able to recognize the place where he was brought to.
According to Ajid, when they reached the military camp, he was brought to the waiting shed. He said he was not given any food. A person arrived and interrogated him. He was asked if he is a member of the Abu Sayyaf group, which he denied. He was asked if he knew any Abu Sayyaf members. Every time he denied, he was paddled with wood on the back, stomach and shoulder. He was also kicked on the head.
On July 24, he was not interrogated and he was given food. In the evening, he was interrogated and asked if he possessed two (2) guns. He was told that his sister had his guns, but Ajid denied owning a gun. After that, they started beating Ajid again. He was punched and kicked several times on different parts of his body. After he was beaten, a bottle was inserted in his anus for four times.
On July 26, 2011, he was brought to the Office of the Department of Justice. Below was the conversation that transpired at the Prosecutor’s Office in Zamboanga City:
Q: Who is the commander when you entered the Abu Sayyaf group?
A: I did not join any organizations.
Q: Are you involved in the kidnapping of the priest in Lamitan, Basilan?
A: I am not involved of any kidnapping happening in Basilan.
Q: Are you involved in the war that happened?
A: I do not know anything about it.
The Prosecutor asked how many children Ajid has and he answered that he has five children. Then he was asked who the eldest among his children is. Ajid said that Jayjay is the oldest. But one of his captors said that the one named Juhaydi, an Abu Sayyaf member, is his eldest son. Ajid denied this.
When they got out of the Prosecutor’s office, Ajid was kicked on the stomach. They then went to a a nearby food store and after that, they went back to the Prosecutor’s office and waited outside for a few minutes.
At about 3:00 p.m., the victim was brought somewhere in Zamboanga town where his captors drunk. After that, the victim was brought to the port where they boarded a speed boat going to Basilan. His blindfold was removed throughout their travel. When they arrived in Basilan port, the victim was again blindfolded and his head was covered. He was also handcuffed.
At about 8:00 p.m., at the military brigade, he was again interrogated. One of the captors said that, “You are lying, you are a member of the Abu Sayaff”. The victim was put upside down in a drum filled with water until the victim nearly drowned. A bottle was also inserted in his anus for four (4) times. Gasoline was then poured from his head to his lower abdomen and he was set on fire. Ajid could not recall how the flames died. Before the victim was burned, he was only wearing jeans. He had no underwear and shirt. Ajid’s captors told him that his life will already end. His right foot was also burnt with cigarette.
The following day, July 27, they changed the victim’s pants, gave him a shirt and fed him. He was very weak and slept the whole morning.
At 2:00 p.m., upon the order of Judge Leo T. Principe of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 1 in Basilan, where Ajid’s wife filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, the sheriff served the order at the military brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan. In the Sheriff’s report, he stated that the body of the aforementioned Abdul-Khan Ajid was presented before the sala of the RTC of Basilan, Branch 1, Isabela City at around 3:21 p.m. on the same day. At the court, Ajid’s family was able to see his poor condition.
On the same date, Judge Leo T. Principe issued a commitment order for Ajid which stated that the victim be committed to Provincial Jail in Isabela City, Basilan pending the determination by the court of the legality of his arrest said to be pursuant to the alias warrant issued by Branch 2 of the RTC of Basilan. The name of the victim was not reflected in the warrant of arrest and in the amended information.
In the evening, the victim was brought to Basilan Community Hospital, Inc. for treatment. An initial medical finding issued by Jheimar B. Francisco, M.D., attending physician on July 30, 2011, stated that the victim suffered partial and superficial thickness flame burns on the face, neck, lower abdomen, thighs and right shoulder (copy of the medical certificate hereto attached).
On July 31, 2011, Atty. Raissa Jajurie filed a motion for transfer of confinement to the hospital in Zamboanga City. This was immediately granted by the court. The victim was later transferred to Zamboanga Medical Center for further medication.
On August 1, 2011, a news article (“4 Soldiers in Torture of the Abu Suspect for Probe”) regarding the incident was printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).
An excerpt of the article stated that, “A junior officer and three senior enlisted personnel from the Army elite forces were placed under “technical arrest” last week while under investigation for allegedly torturing a suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit involved in the infamous 2001 Lamitan siege.”
“The four members of the Army Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) were disarmed, relieved from their duties and restricted to their station in Basilan, said Colonel Domingo Tutaan Jr., who heads the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Human Rights Office.”
“Facing investigations are Captain Sherwin Guidangen, Staff Sergeant Elmer Magdaraog, Sergeant Edgardo Santos and Sergeant George Awing.”
On August 2, 2011, the victim started talking and recalling his ordeal at the hands of his captors.
KINDLY WRITE LETTERS TO THE FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND INDIVIDUALS CALLING FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES:
1.To the Office of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, to conduct impartial investigation and determine the liability of Judge Leo T. Principe of RTC Branch 1 of Isabela City, Basilan in issuing a commitment order to Abdul-Khan Ajid on July 27, 2011 when in fact he has no jurisdiction over the said victim, considering that no case has been filed at his sala.
Quoting the order he issued: To the Provincial Warden, Isabela City, Basilan Province “I hereby commit to you the person of Abdul-Khan Ajid y Balinting be kept in custody pending the determination by this court of the legality of his arrest said to be in pursuant to an alias warrant issued by Branch 2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Basilan. (copy of the amended information hereto attached which does not contain the name of the victim and also the warrant of arrest that does not contain his name, as well).
Judge Principe himself was totally aware about the physical condition of the victim. He should have ordered for his immediate confinement in a hospital and not issued a commitment order that justified the victim’s incarceration.
2.To the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Atty. Leila de Lima, to conduct an impartial investigation regarding the liability of the Prosecution office in Zamboanga City, in which without jurisdiction, the said Prosecutor asked questions to the victim even if it was not an inquest proceeding.
In warrantless arrest, the victim should be immediately brought to the Fiscal for inquest and probable cause for filing of case will be based on the evidence and witnesses presented by the complainant or arresting officer. In this case, when the victim was presented to the prosecutor, no complaint has been filed against him.
As prosecutor, his duty is not only to give justice to the victims, but also to ensure that the human rights of the accused are not violated.
3.To the Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly Colonel Domingo J. Tutaan Jr., head of the Human Rights Affairs Office, to ensure that after determining the violation committed by the suspected military officers, justice be afforded to the victim and the families will be informed of such actions undergone by his office.
4.To the office of the Commission on Human Rights, Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, to conduct an impartial investigation and to provide assistance to the torture victim, as provided for by Republic Act (RA) 9745.
RITA M. MELECIO
Mindanao Team leader
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Contact # 09497215341
Greetings of peace!
I am writing to express my concern regarding the arrest and alleged torture of Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, 39 years old, a baker and a native of the Yakan tribe in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province in the island of Mindanao on July 23, 2011 at 5:30 in the morning. The perpetrators were said to be members of Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) belonging to 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario.
I have known that after his apprehension, he was brought to a military brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan where he experienced torture.
According to information I received, inside the camp, when he was interrogated and every time he denied any involvement with the Abu Sayyaf group he was paddled on the back, stomach and shoulder with wood. He was also kicked on the head.
I have also known that in the evening of July 24, after the military conducted interrogation and the victim denied the accusations, they started beating him again. He was punched and kicked for several times on different parts of his body. After he was beaten, a bottle was inserted in his anus for four (times).
On July 26, 2011, the victim was brought to the office of the Department of Justice, at the Prosecutor’s office in Zamboanga City and allegedly asked questions by the Prosecutor.
I was told that at about 8:00 in the evening, at the military brigade, he was again interrogated and tortured. The victim was put upside down in a drum filled with water until he nearly drowned. A bottle was also inserted in his anus for four (4) times and thereafter, gasoline was poured on his head down to his lower abdomen. He was then set on fire. Ajid could not recall how the flames died. Before the victim was burned, he was only wearing jeans. He had no underwear and shirt. Ajid’s captors told him that his life will already end. His right foot was also burnt with cigarette.
I was also informed that on July 27, 2011 at 3:00 p.m., the victim was presented in court, by virtue of the order of the court in pursuant to the petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by the victim’s wife. However, Judge Leo T. Principe issued a commitment order for the victim to be incarcerated at the Provincial Jail in Basilan without basis. The victim has no pending case filed in his sala. Therefore, he has no jurisdiction over the said victim.
The Philippines is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. As a State party to these international instruments, the Philippine government is bound to respect and abide by the provisions stipulated therein. Our Philippine Constitution, particularly the bill of rights also prohibits the use of torture. The Philippines had also passed Republic Act 9745 also known as the Anti-Torture Law of 2009, which criminalizes acts of torture.
I am urging that an impartial investigation will be conducted and perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice.
I trust that you will act favorably. Thank you and God bless.
Please send letters to:
1.Honorable Benigno Simeon Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2.Hon. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
3.Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta
Chief, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO)
DOJ Agencies Building,
NIA Road East Avenue, 1104 Quezon City
Tel. No.: +63 2 929 9010 / 9436
Fax No. +63 2 927 6810 / 926 2878
4.Atty. Leila de Lima
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura, 1004 Manila
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
5.Mr. Emilio Gonzalez
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and other Law Enforcement offices
3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman
1104 Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 926 8747
6.Atty. Jose Midas Marquez
Supreme Court of the Philippines
3rd Flr., New Supreme Court Bldg.,
Annex, Padre Faura St., Ermita
Tel: +63 2 522 590 to 94
Telefax: +63 2 526 8129
Email: email@example.com , sc.judiciary.gov.ph
7.Lt. General Ricardo A. David, Jr.
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
AFP-GHQ office, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax : + 632 9116436
8.Colonel Domingo J. Tutaan, Jr.
Head, Human Rights Affairs Office
Armed Forces of the Philippines
Tel: + 632 9116001 to 50