A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.

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Latest News

The UN Committee against Torture has expressed concern over the persistence of impunity for acts of torture despite the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act in 2009 in the Philippines. It noted that only one perpetrator has been convicted considering the rising number of torture cases compiled by the Commission on Human Rights six years after torture was declared a criminal offense.

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A minor died while another young boy and an adult farmer were seriously injured  reportedly as a result of unlawful violence they suffered  in the hands of soldiers in the municipality of Tipo-Tipo in Basilan. The incident happened on April 12, 2016 in the midst of the military  combat operations against  the Abu Sayyaf group that  were involved  in  the recent kidnappings and killings of civilian hostages in southern Philippines.

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The  United against Torture Coalition  (UATC) has called attention on the  non-conviction of torturers and the weak implementation of the Anti-Torture Act six years since it was enacted in 2009. The coalition raised this observation, among other issues,  during the 57th session of the United Nations Committee on Torture at  Palais Wilson in Geneva on April 27, 2015. 

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Balay Held HR Seminar for AFP Intel Officers

Balay representative, Mr. Carlos receiving a certificate of appreciation from Maj. Gen. Bambao for giving out a lecture about torture in the Philippine context and a discussion about the Anti-Torture Law of 2009Camp Aguinaldo Quezon City – a human rights seminar for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Intelligence Officer was held. Balay Rehabilitation Center (Balay), represented by Mr. Ellecer Carlos, was also invited to discuss the newly passed Anti-Torture Act (RA 9745) of 2009. Ms. Loretta Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), was likewise present in the said forum and discussed human rights violations situation in the Philippines from the immediate past to the present.

Balay, represented by Mr. Carlos, discussed the phenomenon of torture in the Philippine, tackling the root causes of torture in the country and the salient points of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (RA 9745) – definition of torture, the legal repercussions of any agent of the state that will violate this law and the various mechanisms of protection and education for civilians, groups and state agencies. In the end, Mr. Carlos emphasized to the intelligence community that torture must not be used in any circumstance. He also added that "torture is shameful and abhorrent" and that "torture is a taboo in our society and taboo it must remain".

First Ever

According to Maj. Gen. Francisco Cruz Jr. in that the said human rights forum is a first in the AFP's history. He also added that this forum is one of many steps that the leadership of the AFP is taking to create "a new breed of soldiers, one that operates on higher moral ground".

A Continuing Engagement towards Transformation – a Torture Free Society

In the end, we may see the human rights forum for its immediate value – the education of military intelligence personnel about human rights and, in particular, the right to be free from torture. However, it is also apparent that the activity is indicative of an opening within the ranks of the military and its leadership. An opening that is characterized by an acceptance of the human rights perspective and discourse as applicable and compatible to the field of military operations, and in this case, military intelligence. In addition to the adoption of a human rights perspective in military operations, the activity is also an implicit expression of commitment in making military intelligence and operations operate within the bounds of human rights.

In any case, Balay is hopeful that this activity marks the start of the transformation of the military – a military that will truly protect its citizens and respect and fulfill human rights. Indeed, the struggle for a torture free Philippines is still ongoing. While the forum is a sign for the hopeful, it is still paramount that we don't forget that torture is still pervasive in our society, and in this light, we must say: "FREE FROM TORTURE NOT FREE TO TORTURE!"