Press Release
June 26, 2018

Message for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Today, I join the global human rights community in the observance of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This is an institutional initiative of the United Nations in 1997 which marks a significant part of the larger preparation for reaching the milestone of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Human Rights Declaration.

In the Philippines, Republic Act No, 9745, "An Act Penalizing Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman And Degrading Treatment or Punishment And Prescribing Penalties Therefor" or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, is the domestic implementation of the UN Convention acceded to by the Philippines in 1986. This law defines and criminalizes torture in its various forms, provides torture prevention mandate to government agencies, and helps ensure victims recovery.

As the world commemorates one of the landmark treaties that uphold the right to life and dignity, we must remember that within our jurisdiction, torture remains one of the egregious violations committed by the law enforcement. Just recently, Genesis "Tisoy" Argoncillo died in police custody with possible liability for torture, after being arrested on account of being shirtless in public. The case of Argoncillo, of Jaybee Bertes--a victim of extrajudicial killing at the onset of the murderous war on drugs of the Duterte regime--and my experiences as former Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in investigating cases of torture against women and health workers validate that this crime can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, or status in life.

As Senator, I have filed Senate Resolution No. 768 calling for an investigation into the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Mindanao more than a year after the entire region was placed under Martial Law. The said resolution will probe the reports from Amnesty International and Karapatan on the human rights violations perpetrated by state forces and terrorists groups. These reports include extrajudicial killings, tortures, illegal arrests and detention, and other threats and harrassments.

Rest assured that as a legislator and human rights advocate, despite my most unjust incarceration, I remain committed to stop torture and put an end to cruel, inhuman, degrading treatments or punishments, and to support and protect the welfare of victims.

During these trying times, our solidarity has become of utmost importance as we sail the perilous journey to be liberated from this dark regime of corrupt and murderous officials. Together, let us stand up against violence, promote the value of life and dignity, and start the healing towards the better future of humanity.


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