From: AHRC Urgent Appeals [mailto:listadmin@ahrchk.net]
Sent: Tuesday, 13 August 2013 8:25 p.m.
To: cafca@chch.planet.org.nz
Subject: PHILIPPINES : Delay in the trial of an activist whom police tortured and falsely charged with illegal drugs eight years ago

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-107-2013
13 August 2013
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PHILIPPINES : Delay in the trial of an activist whom police tortured and falsely charged with illegal drugs eight years ago

ISSUES: Fabrication of charges; torture; human rights defender; prosecution system;
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NEW REPORT:
Special Report: The Philippines ‘ hollow human rights system
http://www.article2.org/pdf/v11n0203.pdf

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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that the trial of an activist whom the policemen tortured and falsely charged eight years ago has been excessively delayed. The victim is being prosecuted for possession of illegal drugs based on planted evidence. Since his arrest, no investigation was conducted on his allegations of torture because the police ignored his complaint.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the information received from the Moro Women Center )

At 3:30pm on 10 September 2005, activist Fernando Obedencio was on his way home when the motorcycle he was riding was checked at a police check point. They were checking for the Official Receipt/Certificate of Registration of the motorcycle he was using. He presented the OR/CR to the police; however, when the police opened the compartment box of the motorcycle they claimed to have found 64.1 grams of marijuana or cannabis sativa, which is considered as prohibited drug in the Philippines . Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Matias Booc and SPO1 Norberto Riveri Ferolin arrested him.

Obedencio was arrested for possession of dangerous drugs under Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (R. A. 9165) before he was turned over to the General Santos City Jail where he is presently detained, he was held for days without charges at the Police Station No. 8 in Barangay Tinagacan, General Santos City. Here, three intelligence officers, who falsely introduced themselves as human rights workers attached to Promotion of Church of Peoples Response (PCPR), came to see him. It was alleged that Obdencio’s arrest, detention and fabrication of charges was planned.

When the three men spoke to him, they were demanding from him that he disclose the whereabouts of persons named Mokie and Lenie. It was learned that these persons whom the intelligence officers were looking for were alleged to be rebel leaders. However, since Obedencio had no idea of who they are or their whereabouts, he told them he didn’t know the person they were asking him about. The officers were angry. When they did not get information from him they took him to a house out of the police detention cell where he was tortured.

The intelligence officers started kicking the upper side of his body, punched his face and squeezed his fingers hard for an hour after inserting three bullets between them. They put his hands on the table and pounded them with a .45 caliber pistol. His torturers were forcing him to admit that he was involved in organizing work for the New People’s Army (NPA), a communist rebel group. He had bruises on different parts of his body. Under torture, he shouted that his not an organizer of the NPA. The intelligence officers tortured him for about three hours in each day for three days. He complained to the policeman on duty at the police station where he was detained but he was ignored.

It was alleged that SPO1 Booc and Ferolin planted the illegal drugs in the compartment box of Obedencio’s motorcycle during the arrest. In the Philippines , it is common for the policemen to plant evidence against any persons who they target to arrest, notably when they had no sufficient evidence to prosecute the person they target to arrest. The torture and questions the police asked demonstrates their arrest had nothing to do with illegal drugs, but about the activities of the victim.

When the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) tested Obedencio for illegal drugs substance, the result was negative. After 17 days, Obedencio was transferred him to the General Santos City Jail where he has been detained for more than eight years.

Since he was detained, the trial of his case has since been overly delayed. The court only scheduled three hearings in each year. The scheduled hearings they also would only not happen due to postponement and cancellation, for example, when the judge hearing the case take leave. Recently, his case was supposed to be heard for last March 15, 2013 but it was postponed again for September 13, 2013.

Since the incident happened, there were no investigations into Obedencio’s allegation of torture. He could not file a complaint against the police officers involved because the policemen at the Tinagacan Police Station did not record his earlier complaint.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Kindly send letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting for their immediate intervention in this case.

Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission has written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Situation of Human Rights Defenders and on Independence of Judges and Lawyers requesting their prompt intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ……………..,

PHILIPPINES: Delay in the trial of an activist whom police tortured and falsely charged with illegal drugs eight years ago

Name of victim: Fernando Obedencio, 33 years old, (he was 25 years old when he was arrested), a resident of Purok Bla’an, Malandag, Sarangani Province . He was affiliated with the Likha Mindanao (Cultural Group).
Alleged perpetrator:
SPO1 Matias Booc
SPO1 Norberto Riveri Ferolin
The two policemen were attached to the General Santos City Police Office (GSCPO). They were the policemen on duty during a police check point in September 10, 2005.
Date and time of incident: September 10, 2005 at 3:30pm
Place of incident: Barangay Tinagacan, General Santos City .

I am writing to draw your attention regarding the case of activist Fernando Obedencio. At 3:30pm on 10 September 2005, on his way home the motorcycle he was riding was check at a police check point. They were checking for the Official Receipt/Certificate of Registration of the motorcycle he was using. He presented the OR/CR to the police; however, when the police opened the compartment box of the motorcycle they claimed to have found 64.1 grams of marijuana or cannabis sativa, which is considered as prohibited drug in the Philippines . Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Matias Booc and SPO1 Norberto Riveri Ferolin arrested him.

I have learned that Obedencio was arrested for possession of dangerous drugs under section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (R. A. 9165) before he was turned over to the General Santos City Jail where he is presently detained, he was held for days without charges at the Police Station No. 8 in Barangay Tinagacan, General Santos City. Here, three intelligence officers, who falsely introduced themselves as human rights workers attached to Promotion of Church of Peoples Response (PCPR), came to see him. It was alleged that Obdencio’s arrest, detention and fabrication of charges was planned.

When the three men spoke to him, they were demanding from him that he disclose the whereabouts of persons named Mokie and Lenie. It was learned that these persons whom the intelligence officers were looking for were alleged to be rebel leaders. However, since Obedencio had no idea of who they are or their whereabouts, he told them he didn’t know the person they were asking him about. The officers were angry. When they did not get information from him they took him to a house out of the police detention cell where he was tortured.

The intelligence officers started kicking the upper side of his body, punched his face and squeezed his fingers hard for an hour after inserting three bullets between them. They put his hands on the table and pounded them with a .45 caliber pistol. His torturers were forcing him to admit that he was involved in organizing work for the New People’s Army (NPA), a communist rebel group. He had bruises on different parts of his body. Under torture, he shouted that his not an organizer of the NPA. The intelligence officers tortured him for about three hours in each day for three days. He complained to the policeman on duty at the police station where he was detained but he was ignored.

It was alleged that SPO1 Booc and Ferolin planted the illegal drugs in the compartment box of Obedencio’s motorcycle during the arrest. In the Philippines , it is common for the policemen to plant evidence against any persons who they target to arrest, notably when they had no sufficient evidence to prosecute the person they target to arrest. The torture and questions the police asked demonstrates their arrest had nothing to do with illegal drugs, but about the activities of the victim.

When the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) tested Obedencio for illegal drugs substance, the result was negative. After 17 days, Obedencio was transferred him to the General Santos City Jail where he has been detained for more than eight years.

Since he was detained, the trial of his case has since been overly delayed. The court only scheduled three hearings in each year. The scheduled hearings they also would only not happen due to postponement and cancellation, for example, when the judge hearing the case take leave. Recently, his case was supposed to be heard for last March 15, 2013 but it was postponed again for September 13, 2013.

It is disappointing that Obedencio cannot file a complaint against the police officers involved because the policemen at the Tinagacan Police Station did not record his earlier complaint. I urge that you immediately intervene in this case and investigate the victim allegations of torture investigated thoroughly.

I trust that you will take prompt action on these cases.
Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street , San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: corres@op.gov.ph /opnet@ops.gov.ph

2. Lt. General Emmanuel Bautista
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines
AFP-GHQ office, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 9116436

3. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)