PHILIPPINES: Manila mayor tortures rape suspect in full view of the public 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is demanding an explanation as to why the police did nothing to prevent Manila Mayor, Alfredo Lim, from interrogating and torturing a rape suspect in full view of the public. In this report by the GMA News, about five policemen in uniform, including a senior police officer, were present in front of Mayor Lim as he questions, extracted a confession and forced the suspect to admit he had raped a woman and attempted to rape and rob another.

The transcript from the broadcast of Mayor Lim’s questioning clearly breaches the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009. Under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, to inflict pain either physical or psychological for purposes of extracting a confession, information and forcing a person to admit to a crime is a criminal offence:

ARHC-STM-113-2013.jpgPhoto: TV grab from GMA News.

1:04-2:15 (time code)

Mayor Lim: ‘diba ikaw ang nang holdap dito? (Isn’t it you who rob this woman?)

Suspect: Hindi kami (It is not us)

Mayor Lim: (asking the two complainants) Sino ba ang nang-holdap sa iyo? (Who robbed you?) O, ikaw daw eh! Magsalita ka! (You see, she said it was you!) (Mayor Lim, in yellow dress, was seen pressing the suspect’s shoulder hard).

Suspect: Hindi (No, it is not me).

Mayor Lim: Hindi? Ibig mong sabihin nagsisinungaling ito? (No? As you saying the complainants are lying?)

1:28-2:15 (timecode)

Mayor Lim: Totoo ‘yung sinasabi n’ya? Ha? (So, what she said is true, right?)

Suspect: Oo. (Yes) (this time it is obvious that the suspect was forced to admit)

Mayor Lim: So, totoo ito inaamin mo na pinagtatangkaan mo. Naholdap eh. Na dadalhin dun sa…para gahasain. (So, you are admitting that you attempted to rape this woman. She was robbed and was attempted to be raped).

The AHRC is shocked, but not surprised, by the inaction of the police and of how Mayor Lim could openly break the law in front of the law enforcement officers. The policemen, including a senior officer, by the uniform he was wearing, did nothing to prevent Mayor Lim from torturing the victim. In a situation where a suspect is questioned in the absence of his legal counsel by an influential politician in front of senior police officers and journalists, it is likely that any suspect would admit to anything.

We are of the opinion that there was no need for Mayor Lim to either extract a confession from the suspect or to force him to admit to the crime. As the report said, the police claimed to have sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspect for rape, attempted rape and for robbery. In fact, Mayor Lim’s torture of the suspect in full view of the public only damages the probability of successful prosecution because evidence taken by way of torture is not admissible in court. As a former policemen himself for 30 years, Mayor Lim should have known this most elementary rule of evidence.

The AHRC is demanding that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the two agencies who had the legal obligation to conduct an investigation under the Anti-torture Law, to conduct an investigation to determine the criminal liability of Mayor Lim and the policemen for, as it appears, tolerating and allowing Mayor Lim to torture the suspect. If Mayor Lim and the other policemen are not held accountable to this incident, this would aggravates and perhaps have irreversible consequences on the people’s loss of trust and confidence in the law.

There is nothing unique and scandalous about Mayor Lim torturing the suspect and the policemen not doing anything to protect a detainee’s rights. In fact, it merely reaffirms what all Filipinos know about the systematic and widespread torture practiced during police investigations and questioning while the detainees are held in custody. If they could do this in open view of the public with impunity, there is nothing to prevent other ordinary policemen from using torture as methods of their investigation.

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Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-113-2013
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Judicial system, Rule of law, Torture, Violence against women, Women's rights,