Turning the tide on torture in the Philippines one arrest at a time

By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

Torture is endemic in the Philippines. Police officers in the Philippines tortured Jerryme Corre, a bus driver, in what could be a case of mistaken identity. Jerryme is still in prison awaiting justice. Alfreda Disbarro was arrested and tortured while in custody at a police station. Her torturers have yet to be held to account. And earlier this year, a “wheel of torture” was discovered at a detention facility in the Philippines. Detainees were forced to spin the wheel, and whatever form of torture the arrow landed on was inflicted on them.

How has torture become so widespread in the Philippines? Because authorities have turned a blind eye and allowed it to become endemic. But two recent events provide hope that things can change.

Our campaigning is leading to positive results

Amnesty began campaigning in support of Alfreda Disbarro in May. We called for an investigation into her allegations of torture. Because of letters received by officials from Amnesty members, an investigation into her torture has now been opened. This is clear proof that our campaigning to shine a light on cases of torture is having an impact!

  Notorious torturer arrested!
  Retired Major General Jovito Palparan, aka “the butcher”

More good news came on August 12, 2014 when retired Major General Jovito Palparan, also known as “Berugo” (“the executioner” or “the butcher”) was arrested. He is accused of kidnapping, illegally detaining, and torturing university students in 2006. The general’s arrest sends a strong signal to other law enforcement officials that they are on notice—that torture will no longer be tolerated.

One arrest is not enough but it is a step in the right direction. The general’s arrest must be followed by a fair trial. There must be independent and impartial investigations into other allegations of torture, followed by further arrests and convictions.

As said by Rupert Abbott, Amnesty’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director, “the time has come to break down the wall of impunity, brick by brick.”

What can you do?

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