August 25, 2015
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580
Trumped-up charges filed vs torture victim by military torturers
“Tinortyur na nga, sinampahan pa ng mga gawa-gawang kaso,” (The victim was not only tortured, trumped-up charges were also filed against him) said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, on the case of tortured farmer Ruben Wating.
On April 5, 2015, Wating was tortured by soldiers from the 73rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) during their military operations in civilian communities in Brgy. Upper Suyan, Malapatan Sarangani Province. He was forced by the military to drink two gallons of coconut wine, then he was kicked in the neck, his left thumbnail clipped with pliers, and then punched. A soldier aimed his gun at Ruben’s forehead, and when he was ordered to drop to the ground, the soldiers repeatedly stepped on Ruben’s legs on to his back. Later, they instructed him to stand up and run. Ruben refused to follow for fear that soldiers would shoot him. The soldiers then brought Ruben to a neighbor’s house where he was again punched; his hands smashed with a bamboo stick. After some time, the soldiers allowed Wating to go home but even before he could leave, one of the soldiers hit his back with a belt.
Wating was among the 500 residents of the said community who forcibly evacuated on May 18, 2015 due to human rights violations by the 73rd IBPA in the course of their operations and encampment. They sought refuge in Sitio Sufan, Brgy. Pag-asa, Alabel Sarangani Province and on May 23, human rights groups, people’s organization and church workers facilitated their transfer to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Compound in General Santos City, where they stayed until June 18. The illegal arrests and torture, economic and food blockade, indiscriminate firing and bombing, which destroyed crops, animals and the source of water prompted the Blaans to flee. The evacuees held dialogues with the 73rd IBPA and the local government to reiterate their call for the immediate pull-out of troops in Malapatan.
On June 17, more than 19 individuals, mostly Blaans and leaders of human rights and people’s organizations, including pastors of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, were charged of attempted murder and violation of Republic Act 9851. Wating’s name was included in the names of respondents to the said charges, and a warrant of arrest came out later.
“It is the members of the 73rd IBPA who should be charged for the torture of Ruben Wating. The false charges against him were filed to stop him from holding the perpetrators accountable for the gross violations against his person and his community,” Palabay said.
Other human rights advocates included in the charges against Wating are: Ryan Lariba of Bayan Socsksargen; Sadrach Sabella, Secretary General of Karapatan Socsksargen; Rev. Allen Bill Veloso, Chairperson of Karapatan Socsksargen; Lorna Mora, Secretary General of Kaluhhamin; Anelfa Gemilo, Chairperson of Kaluhhamin; Lorencio Teo, Secretary General Makasdalu; Bert Padayao, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Rev. Roger Rafalez, UCCP; Mercedes Arlene P. Alonzo, Executive Director of Clans; Marlo Magramo of Bayan Muna; Borning Manganyong, Sitio Chairman, Sitio Akbual; Alfredo Manganyong; Armand Teo; Marmar Cawan, Volunteer of Clans; Bulahing Masalon; Hermis Tuco; Nestor Masalon of Kafye de Lagad; Rodel Lumayas; Junard Cayamba of Kaluhhamin.
“Wating’s case is one of the horrendous experiences suffered by civilians in communities where the AFP conduct their operations. They are tortured, threatened, and then treated as criminals. One cannot blame the people in poor communities, often victimized by state security forces and big business projects, for fighting back against this repressive regime,” Palabay ended.###
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.