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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Balay participated in the investigative hearing on the discovery of an  alleged secret detention room which concealed some twelve suspects in a police station in Manila Police District.   The hearing was  convened by the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives on May 29, 2017 in response to  a resolution filed by legislators that have been approached by Balay.

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Around 40 members of the Human Rights Council have  spoken against the controversial extra judicial killings of  persons as a result of the   war-on-drugs policy of the Duterte Administratio, while at least fourteen  other state-parties expressed concern over reports of torture in the Philippines despite the enactment of the Anti Torture Act almost a decade ago.  

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The  establishment of a   mechanism to  implement an integrated  rehabilitation program for torture victims and families of victims of enforced disappearance made progress in the Davao Region in Mindanao  with the convening of an inter-agency forum  in Davao City on May 17, 2017.

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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!"