ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Torture and forced disappearances involving soldiers and policemen continue to be recorded in many areas in Mindanao under the Aquino administration, and Western Mindanao, where the government’s anti-terror campaign is centered, accounts for the most cases.
Data from the Commission on Human Rights presented this week at a training session here for detention authorities on anti-torture and human rights laws showed that from July 2010 to July this year, 18 cases of torture were recorded in Mindanao.
Eight people also disappeared while 64 others were summarily executed, said a report titled “Recent Trends from 2010-2011″ that was presented by Christopher Louie Ocampo.
“Western Mindanao has the highest (number of torture cases) with 9 cases followed by Region 12 with three and Caraga with three. In the case of enforced disappearances, Western Mindanao is still on top with four cases,” Ocampo said.
Human Rights Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag said the discovery of the cases was the result of active reporting by “aware stakeholders.”
Mamauag said increased awareness among the people was a positive sign but the downside was that cases of torture, disappearances and summary executions continue.
Another piece of bad news, he said, was that none of the cases filed against identified perpetrators has prospered so far.
Renante Basas, CHR director for Region 4, said the law exists but witnesses were too scant for the cases to prosper.
He cited the case of Abdulkhan Ajid, who claimed to have been tortured by soldiers in Basilan in July.
Captain Sherwin Guidangen, SSgt. Elmer Magdaraog and Sgt. George Awing had been recommended for court martial proceedings following a military investigation. But there was not much to go for a criminal case that Ajid’s family had filed, the CHR official said.
“Ajid’s camp failed to produce other witnesses that could corroborate and pinpoint the three military personnel as responsible for torturing him,” Basas said.
Ocampo said most of the persons responsible for torture, summary killings and enforced disappearances that the CHR has recorded have never been fully identified, except that they were allegedly soldiers and policemen.