The Use of Torture in the Philippines
Torture is one of the most abhorrent assaults on human dignity. Torture is a violation of human rights. In whatever form or manner torture is committed – from beating to electro shocks, from physical injuries to sexual abuse – torture leaves a deep and lasting scar not just on the flesh and psyche of the victims and their families but on the very foundations of our society. Torture brutalizes everyone in society.
Philippine history is replete with accounts of tortured citizens who are either alleged members or suspected sympathizers of armed opposition groups. Even ordinary suspects in criminal cases and members of marginalized communities including women and children, alleged to have committed criminal offenses are subjected to torture to extract confessions or admissions that will be used against them.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provide that no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Philippines committed itself to this principle as a signatory to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and eventually by reiterating it in Article III, Section 19 (2) of the Philippine Constitution which provides that “the employment of Physical, psychological or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall be dealt with by law”.
Furthermore, as a member of the UN, the Philippines is also bound by the principles set out by other long time instituted international instruments on the protection of human rights and the prevention of torture. The failure of the Philippine government to fulfill its obligations to these instruments is time and again confirmed each time it directly or indirectly commits an act of torture or consents to its widespread practice.
Each state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading treatment or Punishment (CAT). is supposed to furnish the United Nations a report on the torture situation in its territory every four years. The Philippines has time and again failed to hand over a report to the CAT. It has only done so once since it ratified the convention in 1989.