(Hong Kong, June 26, 2009) To mark the United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture today, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) launched its latest publication in Manila entitled: Abadilla 5 Families, a book which contains interviews and stories of their families in the latters travails for justice.
The Abadilla Five is a group of five men who, 13 years ago, were illegally arrested, held incommunicado
and tortured, together with several other men, to force them to admit responsibility for the murder of Rolando Abadilla. Abadilla was an influential police colonel and henchman of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Thirteen years on, the Abadilla Five continuously challenge a local courts decision in August 1999 convicting them for murder. The detainees have been tortured to force them into admitting to the murder and naming their supposed accomplices.
They have spent their time within the confines of prisons, having lost all the contacts with rest of their society including their families. One of them at least is very seriously ill and had not been able to get the normal medical care and family attention, writes Basil Fernando, executive director of the AHRC, in his foreword for the book.
This book, however, puts the spotlight on how the detainees family memberstheir respective wives, children, siblings and relativeshave struggled to survive and been able to carry on with their daily lives amidst their loved ones continued detention.
The 100-page book contains testimonies of Marilou, wife of Lenido Lumanog; Cherelyn, wife of Joel de Jesus, and his mother, Rufina; Lolita San Felipe, grandmother of Augusto Santos; and Elma Fortuna, wife of Cesar Fortuna. To read the full text of the book, please click Abadilla 5 Families
Lenidos sister, Loreen Carlos; and his children, Lucky and Pogs also shared recollection of their happy moments with him during their childhood. His eight-year-old old grandchild, Gianna, had also shared her happy moments with him. She has known him as a prisoner and hoped she could see him released from jail.
The book is also a tribute, not only to the Abadilla Five detainees and their respective families, but to the many other detainees and families who are in similar situations to theirs. The condition which the Abadilla Five suffer is also experienced by other victims of torture in their quest for justice and remedy.
Before the book was launched, Catholic priest Fr. Robert Reyes lead a symbolic run against torture. He was joined by 50 police officers and 150 persons from non-government organisations (NGOs) who are also members of a local coalition campaigning against torture in the Philippines, the United against Torture Coalition (UATC).
The run commenced at the Oblation of the University of the Philippines (UP) towards the monument of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, both in Quezon City.
Five men had also volunteered to briefly simulate the torture the Abadilla Five had experienced. They had their faces covered with stockings and adhesive tape as they held a placard with names of the Abadilla Five written on it. They, also, simulated the water boarding by having their faces splashed with a pales of water.