Press Release
December 13, 2014

Pimentel seeks inquiry into AI report on torture of detainees by police

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today sought an in-depth investigation into increasing reports of widespread torture against detainees under police custody as contained in a recent published report by Amnesty International (AI).

Pimentel described the AI report as disturbing, saying laws should be enacted "to prevent torturous activities, provide mechanisms for the effective investigation and restitution of legitimate claims of torture and end impunity."

Based on the AI report, seventy five cases of alleged torture were recorded last year, the highest number of recorded incidents by far, wherein 60 of these cases have implicated police officers as perpetrators of the crime.

"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," he said.

Pimentel said more cases could have been actually reported, but for fear of reprisal and lack of confidence in the justice system by the victims, contributing to the underreporting of legitimate claims of torture and ill-treatment.

He said those who have filed cases were confronted with a "dauntingly complex criminal and administrative complaints system," which are "complex, confusing, and reflect overlapping mandates" by government agencies.

Under Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act of 2009), the Commission on Human Rights, Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police are mandated to receive and investigate torture complaints.

He said torture and ill-treatment of detainees under police custody are now considered a crime, but nobody has been convicted of torture even as its perpetrators continue to violate the law with impunity.

Citing the AI report, Pimentel said rouge policemen subject their preys on a variety of methods of torture, including electric shocks, systematic beatings, punching and kicking and striking with wooden batons or metal bars.

Police also allegedly resort to burning with cigarettes; water boarding; near asphyxiation with plastic bag; stripping detainees naked and their genitalia tied to a string; and threatening with death if they refuse to cooperate.

He said most victims of torture are from the disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds, women, children, repeat offenders and criminal suspects whose alleged crimes have personally affected police officers.

Others are police assets who have fallen out of favour with their local police officers, political activists and suspected members or sympathizers of armed groups.

Pimentel, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said the country is a party to various international agreements on the protection of the rights of detainees that it has an obligation to adopt measures relevant to the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law," Pimentel quoted the Constitution as he urged the appropriate Senate committees to conduct the inquiry on the AI report.

News Latest News Feed