Thursday, March 25, 2010

Military Accused of Harassing Kin of Morong 43 to Force NPA Admission

Five of the Morong 43 who admitted to being rebels were tortured, their families harassed, according to relatives. The children of one of the detainees have allegedly disappeared, according to their grandmother.

By: Ronalyn V. Olea
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Five of the Morong 43 who recently “admitted” that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were subjected to interrogation and pressure by the military, according to relatives, lawyers and other detainees.

Elenor Carandang, Cherilyn Tawagon, Valentino Paulino, Jenilyn Pizarro and Jhon Mark Barrientos have been separated from the rest of the Morong 43 and have not been presented to their lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

In an interview with Bulatlat, Carandang’s mother, Norma Orgena, said three out of four of Carandang’s children have been missing. A neighbor, she said, told her that a van fetched her grandchildren together with Carandang’s sister Grace from their house in Lopez, Quezon, on March 8.

“The military might have taken my grandchildren,” Norma said in Filipino. “And they may be using them to force Elen to admit something that is not true,” she added.

Norma said she last saw her daughter on March 5 during the supposed arraignment of the Morong 43 before the Morong Regional Trial Court. “She was crying then. I could not talk to her because the soldiers pulled her away from me,” Norma said.

On the same day, to Norma’s surprise, Atty. Cyrus Jurado and Atty. Hilda Sacay-Clave presented themselves as the counsels of her daughter and two other detainees, Tawagon and Paulino.

Norma said she has not also seen her grandchildren aged 13, 11 and five and Grace, too.

Meanwhile, Paulino was presented by the military in a press conference on February 11 in which Paulino admitted he is a member of the NPA.

On February 25, Adoracion, Paulino’s mother, told Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairwoman Leila de Lima what her son had told her: “Mother, I am afraid for our family. They beat me repeatedly that is why I was forced to tell a lie… I did what the soldiers instructed me to do because they told me that they already deployed men to our place.”

Still quoting her son, Adoracion added: “They torture me mentally.” She joined the filing of complaint before the CHR.

Based on sworn affidavits attached to the supplemental complaint of the PILC and NUPL lawyers filed before the CHR, Tawagon and Carandang were taken out of the detention facility on March 1, Pizarro on March 4 and Barrientos on March 5.

The other detainees conducted a noise barrage in protest, and Maj. Manuel Tabion shouted at them. “He told us not to test his patience, that we have only seen his kindness and we have not witnessed his being violent and if we do not stop, he told us that we would be electrocuted,” Mercy Castro, one of the Morong 43, said in Filipino in her affidavit.

Since March 2, the lawyers for the Morong 43 have not been allowed to see the three detainees Paulino, Carandang and Tawagon. Starting March 7, Pizarro and Barrientos have not also been presented to their lawyers.

Junie, Pizarro’s brother, told Bulatlat that he last saw his sister on March 4. “She was separated from the rest. She told me that me that many had been talking to her, forcing her to turn against her companions,” Junie said in Filipino.

The next day, Junie said he sensed something different. A certain Lt. Nelmeda was looking for him. “It usually takes us two hours before we get to see our loved ones but that day, the soldiers were the ones inviting me to come in. I did not go with them. If I did, I might not be able to come out again.”

The whereabouts of the five detainees had not been disclosed to their relatives and lawyers. On March 20, the five were interviewed by a media outfit at a safe house inside Camp Capinpin, admitting they are NPA.

Same Tactics

The same tactics have apparently been used on other detainees.

On March 6, another detainee, Miann Oseo, was forced by Tabion and the soldiers-guards to transfer to the cell previously occupied by Pizarro. When Oseo refused and invoked Republic Act No. 9745 and her right to counsel, Tabion ordered the guards to bodily carry Oseo. Oseo held on to the metal bars. The soldiers-guards physically dragged Oseo causing her to sustain bruises on her arms, hands and feet and other parts of her body.

Another detainee, Samson Castillo, also held on to the metal bars when he was being forcibly taken by Tabion and four soldier-guards on Feb. 28. Lt. Col. Crisobal Zaragosa told Castillo in Filipino: “I pity you but I cannot do anything for you if you do not cooperate with the government.” In his affidavit, Castillo also said that Tabion and Zaragosa were always threatening him that his children would not be spared.

Detainees Angela Doloricon, Jacqueline Gonzales, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan and Ma. Elena Serato are still under solitary confinement. In their affidavits, the detainees also complained of relentless interrogation.

Violations

Lawyers of the Morong 43 said that the respondents committed the following violations: Violation of the right of counsels to visit and confer privately with victims-detainees; violation of the right to be informed of the right to remain silent and to have a competent and independent counsel; violation of the right to remain silent; violation of the right to have a competent and independent counsel; violation of the right of detainee to be visited and to confer privately with family members for a sufficient period of time; violation of the right of family members to visit and confer privately with the victims-detainees for a sufficient period of time; violation of the right to prompt medical services; violation of the right to be visited by a priest or religious minister of the detainee’s choice; violation of the right not to be taken out of a detention facility without any court order.

Violation of the right not to be held in solitary confinement; violation of the right not to be subjected to threats; and violation of the right not to be subjected to physical and psychological torture.

The supplemental complaint was filed before the CHR on March 18.

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