MANILA, Philippines — Ten Philippine National Police officers have been sacked following revelations they played a so-called “wheel of torture” game at a secret detention facility to extract information from criminal suspects and also to have fun, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Tuesday.
The CHR is looking into the alleged maltreatment of up to 41 detainees in the PNP facility in Biñan, Laguna province, according to the commission.
Under the game, detainees—mostly suspected drug traffickers—were punched if the “torture wheel” stopped at “20 seconds Manny Pacman,” referring to a nickname of popular boxer Manny Pacquiao, or hung upside down if it stopped at a punishment called “30-second bat,” said Amnesty International, the London-based rights group. It called the practice despicable.
“It’s horrible,” said CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales of the revelation more than three decades after the Philippines emerged from the brutal era of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.
“They do it for fun, it’s like a game for entertainment,” Rosales said. “We’re trying to correct this mindset based on a human rights approach to policing but obviously it may take a lot of time.”
Thousands of victims during the Marcos regime won a class action suit in 1992 in Hawaii against the Marcos estate for torture and other rights violations. Marcos was ousted in the peaceful 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Rosales, herself a torture victim during the Marcos regime, said that she had discussed the torture allegations with top PNP officials.
President Aquino has pledged to take steps to prosecute violators of human rights in past years. Rights groups, however, say violations have continued with impunity under Aquino’s watch.
A picture of the multicolored wheel provided by the CHR showed several other torture selections, including “3 minutes zombies” and “30-second duck walk/ferris wheel” but it was not immediately clear how those punishments were carried out.
“For police officers to use torture for fun is despicable,” Amnesty International’s Hazel Galang-Folli said in a statement.
“These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough. Errant police personnel and their commanding officers should be held accountable in a court of law,” she added.
The group called on the Aquino administration “to act immediately to put an end to routine torture.”
Aquino’s communications secretary, Sonny Coloma, said: “We will await CHR’s findings and recommendations on this specific matter as it has the primary responsibility for protecting and promoting human rights.”
Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, the PNP spokesman, said several officers had been taken into custody and an investigation was under way.
CHR spokesman Marc Titus Cebreros said the officers had been summoned to its office in Biñan and told to submit their counteraffidavits within 10 days.
The officers, who had been relieved of their posts, were identified as Chief Insp. Arnold Formento, SPO1 Alexander Asis, PO3 Freddie Ramos, PO2 Marc Julius Caesar, PO2 Aldwin Tibuc, PO2 Melmar Baybado Viray, PO1 Nelson Caribo, SPO2 Bernardino Artisen, PO2 Mateo Cailo and PO2 Renan Galang.
Initial investigation by the CHR revealed the possibility of 41 alleged victims of torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the PNP provincial intelligence branch in Biñan.
One of the victims was identified as Greg Montemayor, a detainee who was allegedly tortured sometime in June 2013 and again last Jan. 8.
He was hit with a paddle and a baseball bat, his head banged and punched allegedly by respondents Caribo, Viray, Asis and Caesar.
Another victim, Leody Camacho, who was arrested on Oct. 17, 2013, was tortured the same day and on Jan. 9, allegedly by the same four policemen who hit him with a steel bar, gun and baseball bat.
Other victim-detainees were identified as Rowelito Almeda, Isiah Hadlocon, Jayvee Dimapilis, Neil Castillo, Mark Frederick Lim, Hector Domalaon, Dell Ramos Robertson, Leo Umali Romasanta, Kristofferson Climaco Cesar, Emilio Enesin, Catherine Viray and Jimmy Lectura. Most of them complained they were hit by police officers using a baseball bat.—With reports from AP, Nikko Dizon and Gil C. Cabacungan
Originally posted: 2:39 pm | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014