Torture spares no one

The report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on January 28 “Faeldon’s lawyer barred from seeing him” deserves deep reflection among our law enforcers. It is frightening that while our 1987 Constitution guarantees every person detained of an “access to lawyer and not to be tortured”, the real practice completely speaks the otherwise as in this case.
This tells us that nobody can be spared from torture. Here now a marine captain who has served our armed forces as a victim. To our police and military men, whose investigation skills is exceptional on torture, should deeply reflect to this. This might happen to you if tides turn against you.
The use of torture is unacceptable in any circumstances. While our 1987 Constitution recognises these rights, there is no effective mechanism to ensure that our right not to be tortured is protected and there are remedies available. Our country has no law against torture. A number of victims have been deprived when they resort to seek justice and remedy.
The plight of Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon is not unusual. A number of detainees or prisoners, in particular those victims of torture; have also experienced the same fate. Most of these victims were unable to recover from the trauma they suffered and have not been treated. Few are still even in languishing in jail or facing death sentences on charges laid by way of torture.
While most of the cases we have heard are for political reasons, a number of ordinary Filipinos have also experienced torture on a day to day basis – and nobody speaks for them, not even the mainstream NGOs. I haven’t heard much of torture cases not political in nature.
To cite an example, the brutal torture of Haron Abubakar Buisan allegedly by policemen in General Santos City by mistaken identity. Buisan was severely beaten with stone all over his body and is presently detained to face charges even though the name in the charge sheet is not his. This only represents a fraction of a number of non-political torture cases.
For over two years now, the government as party to ICCPR has continued on ignoring the UN recommendations to “ensure that its legislation gives full effect to the rights recognised in the Covenant”, in particular the enabling law on torture. The proposed law against torture has since been left pending since the 8th Congress.
Our Bill of Rights and the government’s ratification to a number of international human rights Treaties will have no meaning unless there is an effective mechanism to hold those responsible accountable, and remedies is made available to victims.
The failure of our Senate and Congress to do so is a betrayal to people who put them in power.

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