Practice Relating to Rule 90. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
The Rules for Combatants (1989) of the Philippines provides that “prisoners must be respected” and that “it is forbidden to … torture or mistreat them”.
The Soldier’s Rules (1989) of the Philippines instructs soldiers: “No physical or mental torture of prisoners of war is permitted.”
The Philippine National Police Manual on Ethical Doctrine (1995) provides:
Respect for Human Rights –
In the performance of duty, PNP [Philippine National Police] members shall respect and protect human dignity and uphold the human rights of all persons. No member shall inflict, instigate or tolerate extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and shall not invoke superior orders or exceptional circumstances such as a state-of-war, a threat to national security, internal political instability or any public emergency as a justification for committing such human rights violations.
Under the War Crimes Trial Executive Order (1947) of the Philippines, applicable to acts committed during the Second World War, “ill-treatment of … the civilian population of or in occupied territory” or “ill-treatment of prisoners of war or internees or persons on the seas or elsewhere; improper treatment of hostages” are violations of the laws and customs of war.
The Executive Order adds that “inhumane acts committed against civilian populations before or during … [the Second World War]” also constitute war crimes whether or not in violation of the local laws.
The Philippines’ Act No. 2711 (1917) states:
Any member of the Constabulary who whips, maltreats, abuses, subjects to physical violence, or tortures by the so-called “water cure” or otherwise, any native of the (Philippine Islands) Philippines or other person, or who causes such whipping, maltreatment, abuse, or torture of any native of the (Philippine Islands) Philippines or other person for the purpose of extorting from him any confession or inducing him to give any information whatsoever, shall be punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term not exceeding five years or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand pesos, or both. Final conviction of any such offense shall by and of itself constitute a dismissal of the offender from the Constabulary service and shall make him ineligible to any position of trust or confidence in the Government of the (Philippine Islands) Philippines.
The Philippines’ Executive Order No. 8 (1986), creating the Presidential Committee on Human Rights, states that the Committee shall have the following functions:
Investigate complaints it may receive, cases known to it or to its members and such cases as the President may, from time to time assign to it, of unexplained or forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings (salvaging), massacres, torture … and other violations of human rights, past or present, committed by officers or agents of the national government or persons acting in their place or stead or under their orders, express or implied.
The Philippines’ Republic Act No. 8438 (1997) provides: “The regional government [of the Cordillera Autonomous Region] shall take measures to prevent torture; other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment; and illegal detention and extra-judicial executions.”
The Philippines’ Republic Act No. 9344 (2006), the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, provides:
Sec. 5. Rights of the Child in Conflict with the Law. – Every child in conflict with the law shall have the following rights, including but not limited to:
(a) the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
Sec. 61. Other Prohibited Acts. – The following and any other similar acts shall be considered prejudicial and detrimental to the psychological, emotional, social, spiritual, moral and physical health and well-being of the child in conflict with the law and therefore, prohibited:
(b) Employment of abusive, coercive and punitive measures such as cursing, beating, stripping, and solitary confinement;
(c) Employment of degrading, inhuman and cruel forms of punishment such as shaving the heads, pouring irritating, corrosive or harmful substances over the body of the child in conflict with the law, of forcing him/her to walk around the community wearing signs which embarrass, humiliate, and degrade his/her personality and dignity.
The Philippines’ Republic Act No. 9372 (2007) states:
No Torture or Coercion in Investigation and Interrogation. –
No threat, intimidation, or coercion, and no act which will inflict any form of physical pain or torment, or mental, moral, or psychological pressure, on the detained person, which shall vitiate his freewill, shall be employed in his investigation and interrogation for the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism; otherwise, the evidence obtained from said detained person resulting from such threat, intimidation, or coercion, or from such inflicted physical pain or torment, or mental, moral, or psychological pressure, shall be, in its entirety, absolutely not admissible and usable as evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative, or administrative investigation, inquiry, proceeding, or hearing.
In the Manliguez case before the Philippine Supreme Court in 1992, in which the appellant appealed a lower court decision that had found him guilty of kidnapping, the Court reversed and set aside the appealed decision, acquitted the appellant of the crime charged and ordered his immediate release from custody. In its judgment, the Court criticized the use of torture by certain police involved with the case:
The Court sympathizes with the appellant, Julio Manliguez and his co-accused, Shirley Ignacio y Agatia and Lucia Guiral, who suffered horrible torture in the hands of some members of the Talomo Police Force on account of false accusations levelled against them by the child’s mother, Priscilla Ali, and sister, Lori Jean Ali. We cannot conclude this decision without recommending to the Commission on Human Rights and the Philippine National Police that they undertake a thorough and speedy investigation of, and impose proper disciplinary sanctions on, Police Lieutenant Obrero and Patrolmen Plaza and Miranda members of the Police Force of Talomo, Davao City in April 1988, for the alleged torture of the three (3) accused, Julio Manliguez, Shirley Ignacio and Lucia Guiral, to extort confessions from them during the investigation of the alleged kidnapping of the child, Mary Grace Ali. Inhuman physical torture is the easiest means of obtaining “evidence” from helpless civilians when police investigators are neither sufficiently trained for detective work, nor adequately equipped, with the scientific tools of criminal investigation. An end should be put to such police brutality.