Philippines: Illegal arrest and detention, torture, sexual abuse and inhuman treatment of a 60-year old female political detainee 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarding to you information from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) regarding the serious case of illegal arrest and detention, torture, maltreatment, and sexual assault on Angelina Bisuña (60), a human rights activists, in Aloran, Misamis Occidental on 8 March 2005.

Bisuña, who is arrested on rebellion charges, suffered severe inhumane treatment for several days despite her age and poor health condition while under the military’s custody. She was interrogated and forced to confess to the crimes depriving her of her right to remain silent and to have legal counsel to represent her. She was detained in an isolated room, her hands and feet were tied, she was blindfolded, stripped naked and sexually assaulted by investigators.

Out of severe depression, she refused to eat in protest of the inhumane treatment. However, her custodian instead forcibly fed her.

This is yet another case of violence against human rights and politicial activists in the Philippines. Government of Philippines and army officials have branded those activists as communist sympathisers to justify their inaction and failure to bring the perpetrators to justice. (To see in detail, click: AS-40-2005)

We urge your immediate intervention in this case. This is a serious human rights violation, which grossly undermines the Rule of Law. This conduct by the military grossly violated provisions of Republic Act 7438, which defines the right of a person arrested as well as the government’s obligation to the provisions of the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

Urgent Appeals Desk
AHRC Urgent Appeals Programme


Name of the victim: Angelina Bisuña Ipong, 60 years old
Date of incident: 8 March 2005 at 2:00pm.
Place of incident: Anastacia Mission Village, Brgy. Lumbayao, Aloran, Misamis Occidental
Alleged perpetrators: Elements of the 1st Infantry Tabak Division, Philippine Army based in Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur and elements of the Southern Command Headquarters, based in Zamboanga City, Mindanao
Motive: Alleged involvement as leader of the New People’s Army (NPA)

Account of the incident:

Angelina Ipong (60) was arrested by ten unidentified men at a house in Anastacia Mission Village in Brgy. Lumbayao, Aloran, Misamis Occidental at 2:00pm on 8 March 8 2005. The men, wore bonnets covering their faces and fatigue shorts. They also carried armalite rifles, .45 caliber pistols and M203 rifles.

Ipong was in a bamboo house taking her siesta. The armed men stormed inside the room, and told her “We are the police. Sit down and we are looking for someone”. Ipong was handcuffed by a certain “Francis” without showing her any warrant for her arrest, nor explaining the charges against her. She was not even allowed to change her clothes before they took her toward a truck. The panel truck immediately left heading towards Ozamis City.

Some members of the raiding team also forcibly took six cellular phones during the arrest. The owners, however, were told they would return them. They introduce themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG). The caretaker of Anastacia witnessed the entire incident. A caretaker of the compound saw Ipong boarded on to a truck. Even blindfolded, Ipong kept on asking the people around her where were they taking her and she was asserting that they were violating her rights.

According to Ipong, after about three hours of travel, the vehicle stopped in a place she knew later as a military camp. There were several people there when they arrived. She later realized that it was the headquarters of the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, Philippine Army, situated in Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

For the first four days while in military’s custody, she claimed she was held in solitary confinement, left in a room, hogtied and blindfolded at all times. On the fifth day, she was airlifted to the Southern Command Headquarters in Zamboanga City.

While in the Southern Command Headquarters custody, Ipong claimed she was tortured and interrogated for seven days. The interrogators forced her to answer their questions. She was slapped with a roll of cardboard and punched on the waist every time she refused to reply. She was stripped naked, sexually assaulted and ridiculed. After an hour she was hogtied, blindfolded and was left naked in a extremely cold room.

She was then forced to confess her connection with the communist movement and to admit all the accusations the military presented to her, including the ambush in in Sapang Dalaga, Misamis Occidental, that killed Lt. Asanji Tumpilan, Executive Officer of Bravo Company of the army’s 10th Infantry Battalion and her aide Cpl. Jancilan and wounded two others.

On the eight day of her captivity, March 15, 2005, she was presented to the media. They took pictures of her and asked questions during a press conference. Out of shock and illness she could not even speak. She was later taken back to her detention cell blindfolded. From the day of her arrest Ipong was not allowed any visitors. She refused to eat as a protest of her detention. However, her custodian forcibly fed her by pushing food into her mouth.

On March 17, 2005, the Southern Command announced that Ipong had been transferred to Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, it was later discovered, however, that this was not true. It was only on 21 March when TFDP members went to Pagadian City Jail that they found Ipong after inquiring at the jail. She was charged for rebellion with no bail recommended filed before Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 in Molave, Zamboanga del Sur. Her arrest occurred on 8 March  but it appears that her arrest warrant was only issued on 17 March, nine days after her arrest.


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Dear Sir/ Madam;

Re: Philippines: Illegal arrest and detention, torture, sexual abuse and inhuman treatment of a 60-year old female political detainee

I am deeply concern about a severe inhuman treatment suffered by Angelina Ipong (60), a political detainee, while under military's custody after her arrest on 8 March 2005 in Aloran, Misamis Occidental. She was interrogated in absence of legal counsel, detained in an isolated room, maltreated and sexually assaulted for several days despite her age and poor health condition. She was also not allowed a visit.

I urge you to initiate an independent and impartial inquiry regarding the victim's allegation against Philippine Army, in particular, the 1st Infantry Tabak Division and the Southern Command, of acts of torture, maltreatment and sexual assault while the victim was under custodial investigation. This is a clear and gross violation of Republic Act 7438 that guarantee the rights of person arrested.

This is yet another serious attack on human rights. The government must deal with this accordingly. There must be an independent and impartial investigation conducted to hold the persons who played a role in the incident responsible.

I also urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in particular, its regional office in Zamboanga City, to investigate the case. It's the CHR's obligation under Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution to investigate, ensure that rights are respected and assists victims of human rights violation in seeking justice. 

Further, I appealed to the concerned government agency to look study the possibility of immediately releasing the victim on humanitarian grounds. She is said to be suffering from pneumonia and her health condition is poor.

I look forward to your immediate intervention on this case.

Yours truly,

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 


1. Hon. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
President, Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
J.P. Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila, NCR 1005

2. Hon. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel. No. +63 2 928-5655/926-6188
Fax: +63 2 929-0102

3. Hon. Avelino J. Cruz Jr.
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Bldg.,
Camp Emilio Aguinaldo
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Fax: +63 2911 6213

4. Gen. Efren L. Abu
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
AFP-GHQ Offices, Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City

5. Hon. Raul Gonzales
Secretary, Department of Justice
DOJ Bldg. Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Fax #: +632 521 1614

6. Atty. Jose Manuel Mamauag
Regional Director
Commission on Human Rights Region IX
Veterans Bldg., Zamboanga City

7. Ms. Hina Jilani 
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders 
Att: Ben Majekodunmi 
Room 1-040, c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88 
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 
8. Mr. Philip Alston 
Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions 
Atten: Lydie Ventre 
Room 3-016, c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (general)

Please inform the undersigned through by email at or by post at:

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Door #5 Guiapal Apt.
#38 Anacleto Badoy St.
Cotabato City 

Contact No. (+63) 09189389150
Cheryl P. Polutan
Regional Coordinator
West Central Mindanao Region

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-12-2005
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Torture,