PHILIPPINES: "Reverse prosecutor's resolution dismissing torture," AHRC asks DoJ
(Hong Kong, March 16, 2012) Invoking public interest for the protection of Constitutional and Statutory rights, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) today has written to the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ) asking them to reverse and resolve promptly a petition questioning the dismissal of the complaint of torture by five victims.
In his letter to DoJ Secretary Leila De Lima, AHRC executive director, Mr. Wong Kai Shing raised serious concerns that if the Resolution is "not reversed, any sort of remedy for victims complaining of torture in future would be inapplicable and meaningless".
Mr. Wong was referring to the Resolution dated July 21, 2011 of Maria Gracella Dela Paz - Malapit, prosecutor of San Fernando City, Pampanga, dismissing the charges for violation of Anti-torture Act of 2009 against P/Supt. Madzgani Mukaram and other police officers "be DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence". Read full text here.
The complainants, Lenin Salas, Jose Gomez, Jerry Simbulan, Rodwin Tala and Daniel Navarro, filed charges on August 9, 2010, against P/Supt. Mukaram, commander of the Provincial Public Safety Office (formerly Regional Mobile Group) and other police officers whose names could not be immediately identified at the time. Read details here: Story 1: "There are no human rights for us".
In her Resolution, Prosecutor Malapit admitted that "with the presence of the above-stated injuries of the complainants, there exists a probability that they were tortured"; however, she nevertheless dismissed the charges because "they did not have the opportunity to see him considering that they were blindfolded".
Her Resolution is the subject for Petition for Review filed by the complainants with the DoJ on December 8, 2011, which was opposed by the accused, P/Supt. Mukaram, in his Comment and Opposition dated January 23, 2012.
Mr. Wong urges the DoJ to use its authority to ensure protection of Constitutional and Statutory rights of freedom from torture by reversing the Resolution on these grounds: firstly, none of the parties involved challenged the existence of probable cause; secondly, the prosecutor usurped the power that should have been for the court. Here, the prosecutor acted beyond her role of determining probable cause in dismissing the complaint.
Mr. Wong further stated that unless the prosecutor's reasoning is not corrected, it "emboldens the perpetrators to create more sophisticated forms of torture without being identified and with the assurance of impunity".