PHILIPPINES: Soldiers torture a man and set him on fire


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-157-2011
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Indigenous people, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Torture, Victims assistance & protection,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that the soldiers tortured a member of an indigenous minority whom they falsely accused of being a member of an illegal armed group and set him on fire after pouring gasoline on him. The victim was tortured to force him to admit he was part of a group involved in kidnap-for-ransom. 

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) – Mindanao and the Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC)) 

On July 23, 2011 at 5:30am, Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, a native of a Yakan tribe, was forcibly taken by soldiers from his home in Barangay (village) Libug, Sumisip, Basilan in front of his children. The soldiers were attached to the Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) of the 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario. 

Around midnight of July 22, Ajid’s wife, Noraisa Imban Induh, noticed that there were some persons observing them from outside their house. While Ajid was preparing dough for his bread at around 4:30am that day, somebody kicked open their door after throwing rocks at their house. A group of soldiers in camouflage fatigues had entered their house. 

The soldiers ordered Ajid to lie face down. They then stamped on his back and tied his hands behind his back using a plastic straw. A newspaper later reported the names of some of the soldiers as Captain Sherwin Guidangen, Staff Sergeant Elmer Magdaraog, Sergeant Edgardo Santos and Sergeant George Awing 

Two of Ajid’s children, who were present during the incident, fainted due to fear when they saw the soldiers carrying firearms. The soldiers destroyed their belongings when they illegally searched their house. They asked Noraisa, Ajid’s wife, if they had a gun in their possession to which she replied that they did not. After searching the house the soldiers then grabbed Ajid, whom they left laying face down on the floor, and dragged him out of the house where he was made to walk towards an approaching six-by-six truck. They took the victim for investigation. 

Ajid narrated that he was first brought to Magdal place where they stayed for 15 minutes, then to Tipo-tipo, Basilan and finally to the military brigade. He was blindfolded throughout their travel but he managed to see a little bit so he was able to recognize the places where he was brought to. Ajid said when they reached the military camp he was brought to the waiting shed area. He said he was not given any food. A person arrived and interrogated him. He was asked if he is a member of Abu Sayyaf group, which he denied. He was asked if he knew any Abu Sayyaf members and every time he denied he was paddled using a piece of wood on his back, stomach and shoulders. He was also kicked about the head. 

In the evening of July 24, the soldiers started interrogating Ajid asking him he is in possession of two guns which he denied. Here, they started beating him again. They repeatedly punched and kicked him hitting different parts of his body but particularly his chest. They inserted the neck of a bottle into his anus four times every after beating him. 

On July 26, 2011, Ajid was taken to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Zamboanga City. The prosecutor asked Ajid incriminating questions even though there was no criminal complaint filed on his name. The soldiers who took him to the prosecutor’s office did not subject him to inquest proceedings. 

When they left the prosecutor’s office, Ajid fell to the ground when he was kicked in the stomach by his custodians, who said that Juhaydi and Ajid’s son is one person. At 3pm, the victim was taken somewhere in Zamboanga town were his custodians had a drink before going back to Basilan on a speed boat. His blindfold was removed throughout their travel. When they arrived in Basilan port, Ajid was again blindfolded, his head was covered and his wrists were also handcuffed. 

At 8pm that day, Ajid was again interrogated at the military brigade. Here, one of those taking him in custody told him: “You are lying. You are a member of Abu Sayaff”. They submerged Ajid into a drum filled with water upside down and once again inserted a bottle in his anus. 

Ajid, who was wearing only jeans at that time, was set on fire on three occasions after his torturers poured gasoline on his head down to his lower abdomen. He could not remember how the flame went out. After setting him on fire, he was told: “Hanggang dito nalang buhay mo” (your life ends here). They also burnt his right foot with a lit cigarette. 

On July 27 they changed the Ajid’s dress. They give him pants, shirt and fed him. The whole morning he slept and was very weak. 

After his wife, Noraisa, filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, at 2pm a court sheriff served an order, issued by Judge Leo T. Principe of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch I in Basilan, requiring the military brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan to produce the victim in court. 

At 3pm, Ajid was produced before the RTC of Basilan, Branch 1, Isabela City. At the court the Ajid’s family saw that he was visibly injured and that his skin was burnt. 

However, on the same day as well, Judge Principe illegally issued a remand order for Ajid to be transferred to the provincial jail in Isabela City, Basilan for detention. There were no criminal charges filed on Ajid and no arrest order in his name in which the soldiers claimed the basis for his arrest. But the judge nevertheless ordered to remand him pending the determination by the court of the legality of his arrest said to be pursuant to the alias warrant issued by the Branch II of the RTC of Basilan. 

In the evening, Ajid was taken to Basilan Community Hospital, Inc. for treatment. On July 30, 2011, Dr. Jheimar B. Francisco, M.D., the physician who examined Ajid, issued his initial medical diagnosis. In his diagnosis he found that the victim had suffered burns to his face, neck, lower abdomen, thighs and right shoulder. 

On July 31, 2011, lawyer Raissa Jajurie, the victim’s legal counsel, filed a motion for the transfer of the victim’s confinement from Basilan to the Zamboanga Medical Center in Zamboanga City for further medication. The court granted the petition. 


It was questionable for Judge Leo T. Principe of RTC Branch 1 of Isabela city, Basilan to issue a remand order on the victim because there was no case filed against him in his court. Judge Principe, who was apparently aware of the physical condition of the victim, should have ordered the immediate confinement of the victim to the hospital but did not do so. 

The actions taken by the prosecutor in Zamboanga City, who asked incriminating questions on the victim, was also questionable because the victim’s presence there was not an inquest proceeding. There was no criminal case filed in his name. In the event of warrantless arrest, the victim should be taken to the prosecutor’s office for inquest to determine whether or not there was a probable cause in pursuing criminal action; however, in this case, when the victim was presented no complaint was filed on him.


Please write letters to the concerned authorities below requesting for their appropriate intervention in this case. 

The AHRC has also written letters to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. 

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear _______. 

Re: PHILIPPINES: Soldiers torture a man and set him on fire 

Name of the victim: Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, 39 years old, baker and native of a Yakan tribe in Barangay Libug, Sumisip, Basilan Province 
Alleged perpetrators: 
1. Captain Sherwin Guidangen 
2. Staff Sergeant Elmer Magdaraog 
3. Sergeant Edgardo Santos 
4. Sergeant George Awing 
All of them are attached to the Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) of the 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario 
Date and place of incident: From July 23 to present 
Status of the case: The victim’s lawyer is pursuing criminal charges against the soldiers involved for violation of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (RA 9745). The alleged perpetrators have already been placed under investigation. 

I am shocked to learn that Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid (39) had been set on fire after he was illegally arrested and detained by the soldiers on July 23, 2011 in Basilan. 

The perpetrators, who are attached to the Special Operation Task Force Basilan (SOTF-B) belonging to 39th Scout Rangers under the command of Colonel Alexander Macario, had come to the victim’s home forcibly taking him with them. The soldiers had taken the victim whom they accused of being a member of the Abu Sayyaf, an illegally armed group involved in kidnap-for-ransom activities. 

They took the victim to the military brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City, Basilan where he was tortured in custody. Here, they tortured him every time he denied involvement with the Abu Sayyaf group. He was paddled with a piece of wood on his back, stomach and shoulder. They also kicked his head. 

On July 24 evening, those who questioned him while in military custody military beat, punched and kicked him for several occasions in different parts of his body but mostly his chest. They also inserted the neck of a bottle in his anus on four occasions after beating him. 

On July 26, the victim was taken to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Zamboanga City. Here, the Prosecutor had asked him incriminating questions in front of those who are taking him in custody. However, strangely though even though he was presented before a prosecutor, no charges were filed on his name. 

After arriving at the military headquarter, at 8pm the soldiers again had interrogated, questioned and tortured him. He was submerged in a drum filled with water upside down and again, a bottle was inserted in his anus. Here, they set him on fire after pouring gasoline on him from his head towards his lower abdomen. They repeated the procedure on three occasions. (The victim could not tell how the flame had gone out). 

I also learned that even though the victim was presented in court on July 27 at 3pm after the petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus had been granted by Judge Leo T. Principe of RTC branch 1 of Isabela city; however, I cannot understand why Judge Principe issued an order for the victim’s remand to the Provincial Jail in Basilan. The victim has no pending case filed in court. The judge also has no jurisdiction to the criminal complaint in which the soldiers claimed the victim had been arrested for. 

I am hoping for your immediate intervention on this matter. I urged you to initiate an adequate and impartial investigation as provided by the provision of the Anti-Torture Law of 2009 (Republic Act 9745). 

Yours sincerely, 


1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III 
Republic of the Philippines 
Malacanang Palace 
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel 
Manila 1005 
Fax: +63 2 736 1010 
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80 

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales 
Commission on Human Rights 
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue 
U.P. Complex, Diliman 
Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2 929 0102 
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188 

3. Director General Raul Bacalzo 
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP) 
Camp General Rafael Crame 
Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2724 8763 
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 

4. Ms. Leila de Lima 
Department of Justice (DOJ) 
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura 
1004 Manila 
Fax: +63 2 521 1614 

5. Mr. Emilio Gonzalez 
Deputy Ombudsman 
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military 
and Other Law Enforcement Offices 
3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman 
1104 Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2 926 8747 
Tel: +63 2 926 9032 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (