Dec 042014
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has sought an inquiry on the alleged increasing number of torture and ill-treatment in the country particularly during police investigation, as reported by Amnesty International.

In Senate Resolution 1049 filed on December 4, Pimentel asked the Senate Committee on Justice to conduct an inquiry and help enact laws which would further prevent torturous activities, provide mechanisms for the effective investigation and restitution of legitimate claims of torture and end impunity.

“Sadly, we are faced with a situation where those who are primarily entrusted to enforce the law, serve the people, and protect their welfare may have been the ones who may have violated the laws that they are bound to execute,” the senator said. 

Based on the AI report, the Commission on Human Rights in 2013 recorded 75 cases of alleged torture, the highest number of incidents reported in any year so far. In 60 of the cases, police officers were implicated as perpetrators.

Of the 28 cases recorded from January to July in 2014, 22 involved police officers. Most victims were from disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds and those most at risk to be tortured are women, children, repeat offenders, and suspects whose alleged crimes have personally affected police officers.

Also at risk are those so-called police assets who have fallen out of favor with local police officers, political activitists and suspected members or sympathizers of armed groups.

Pimentel said what was more saddening was that the present number of victims of torture and ill-treatment could still increase.

“The fear of reprisal and lack of confidence in our justice system may have likewise contributed to the underreporting of legitimate claims of torture and ill-treatment. The few victims who do manage to initiate proceedings against their torturers find themselves confronted with a dauntingly complex criminal and administrative complaints system,” he said.

Pimentel said the government agencies mandated to receive and investigate torture complaints are the Commission on Human Rights, Department of Justice, and Philippine National Police.

But the administrative and disciplinary processes under the PNP command, PNP Internal Affairs Service, the National Police Commission, People’s Law Enforcement Board, the Office of the Ombudsman and Civil Service Commission “are complex, confusing, and reflect overlapping mandates,” the senator said. —NB, GMA News

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