Balay, CSOs run with Government for Torture Free Detention Centers

26 June 2012 – Quezon City, around 650 individuals from the civil society, government agencies and communites in Metro Manila gathered and ran along EDSA in participation to the Basta! Run Against Torture (BRAT). BRAT is an annual event, is a public demonstration where individuals from the civil society and communities express their want for a torture free Philippines. Moreover, BRAT is a showcase of parntership and solidarity between the civil society organizations and the government sector in the realization of the said vision.

BRAT was led by the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC) which is comprised by several civil society organizations including Balay Rehabilitation Center (Balay), Taskforce Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Medical Action Group (MAG), Amnesty International Philippines (AiPh), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) among others. The civil society contingent was joined by participants from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Human Rights Commission (PHRC). Participants from Barangay Bagong Silang (Barangay 176) was also present in the event.

 

The run, now on its sixth installment, clamors for the eradication of torture in the Philippines. In particular, this year's BRAT aims to bridge the gap between the commitments and policies, on one hand, and the practices of government agencies on the other, in the light of legislative developments which include the passage of the Anti-Torture Act (RA 9745) back in 2009 and the ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The activity also hopes to exact the commitment of AFP, PNP and BJMP to declare their places of detention as torture free and stand firm to their commitment.

Ensuring the commitment of the government sector is of paramount important, especially to survivors of torture as, according to Josephine Lascano, Deputy Executive Director of Balay and spokesperson of the UATC, "since the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law, very few cases of torture have been filed, and neither victims remain unable to achieve justice, nor are perpertrators held accountable". And, for this reason, "victim are unable to achieve complete rehabilitation", Lascano added.

During the course of the run alon EDSA, the joint civil society and government sector contingent, stopped at key places including the Quezon City Jail, Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo, where representatives from the BJMP, PNP and AFP read statements of commitment to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of every person and keep their detention places free of torture. A final program was held in the Camp Aguinaldo Grand Stand where stakeholders from the civil society and government signed a public statement which expresses their commitment to the vision of a torture free Philippines, including detention centers.

Truly, the 26th of June , for the past six years, has been a momentous occasion, not only for the human rights community and the governmen agencies involved, but also for all of the faceless victims of torture all over the Philippines. As we look back and reflect on this year's run, and the run five years past, we at Balay hope that all the effort spent and commitments given were not made in vain. Indeed, as Lascano mentioned, "we have made significant progress through the passage of RA 9745 and the ratification of the OPCAT". However, torture in the Philippines is still prevalent and remains to be a paramount issue. In the end, the fight to eradicate torture still continues; and until such time that it has come to fruition, we at Balay, together with partner organization shall continue to say, Torture! Dapat Ihinto, Dapat Sinsero. Dapat Sigurado. [Torture! It must be stopped. It must be sincere. It must be sure.]