Renato Mabunga, Manila
On Tuesday, the United Nations marked the ‚ÄúInternational Day in Support of Torture Victims.‚ÄĚ It was a significant day filled with simple and substantial ironies.
In Manila, about 600 human rights advocates, military and police personnel ‚Äútortured‚ÄĚ motorists who were stranded on a major thoroughfare while a procession demonstrating against torture passed.
A more significant irony was the declaration of the country‚Äôs police and military headquarters as ‚Äútorture-free zones‚ÄĚ even as detainees claimed the contrary.
Freedom from torture is neither a palliative nor a piece of legislation that a government brags about to hide its non-compliance. Freedom from torture is supposed to be a product of an organizational culture deeply imbedded in the practice of good policing and security service.
This is not the case in the Philippines.
Peasant leader Franklin Barrera from Atimonan in Quezon province was abducted, hit by a butt of a rifle on the nape, and made to swallow three spoonfuls of salt after failing to identify persons on a photograph shown to him by soldiers.
The duality between action and the pronouncements of security forces in the Philippines makes one doubt the sincerity of state agents.
Torture seems to have become a source of power for security personnel. It has defined the ground to make an acceptable standard that governs their behavior. The practice is so entrenched in the system that no amount of pronouncements can ban it as a ‚Äústandard practice.‚ÄĚ
Renato Mabunga is chairman of Human Rights Defenders, a lobbyist at the UN Human Rights Council and a regional educator on human rights
Read full article on ucanews.com