The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that Merceditas Gutierrez, head of the Office of the Ombudsman, has pledged to resolve the complaint of torture of the Abadilla Five that has been pending in their office since January 2003 “in a week”.
On January 3, 2011, the family members of the Abadilla Five: Marilou Lumanog, Cherelyn de Jesus, Melanie de Jesus and Lolita San Felipe renewed their protest outside the head office of the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City. They were accompanied by Fr. Roberto Reyes, an associate of the AHRC in the Philippines.
It was during this protest that Merceditas Gutierrez made her pledge. In this report, she was quoted to have said: “I will have it (the torture case) expedited. In a week, we would finish it”. The family members had been holding regular protests at the Ombudsman’s office demanding that they act on the complaint at once.
In January 8, 2009, they also held a similar protest at the same office on similar demands. The complaint the relatives demanded that they take action in Case No. OMB-P-C-041269/CLP-C-04-1965 (“CHR, et al. vs. S/Supt. Romulo Sales et al”) that has been pending since January 2003. It was Gutierrez, who was the former Secretary of Justice when the case was endorsed to the Ombudsman, who herself had recommended the prosecution of the policemen involved.
The AHRC has repeatedly asked the Ombudsman, particularly the office of the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office (MOLEO) under Emilio Gonzalez, to conclude their investigation that has been long overdue. Under the law, only when the Ombudsman recommends the prosecution of the case can the perpetrators be prosecuted in court. Yet not a single case has been filed in court against the policemen.
In our Open Letter (AHRC-OLT-001-2009), we have already expressed disappointment at the Ombudsman’s failure to resolve the torture complaint. However, we are not aware of any action taken by the Ombudsman on this case. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), during the term of Leila De Lima, has also pledged to follow up the progress of the case with the Ombudsman; however, once again we are not aware as to whether they have actually taken action.
The AHRC’s sister organization, the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC), has reported this delay in concluding the victims’ torture complaint in its Alternative Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) in April 2009.
The AHRC urges Gutierrez and her subordinates to take responsibility for their pledge.
On October 8, 2010 two of the Abadilla Five, Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos, already filed their final motion for reconsideration to the Supreme Court’s (SC) affirmation of their conviction on September 7, 2010 (AHRC-UAU-037-2010). The full text of this final appeal is here.
On December 21, 2010 the AHRC had also expressed concern to the uneven application of jurisprudence by the SC when it affirmed the conviction of the Abadilla Five, but acquitted the accused of another controversial case, the Vizconde massacre, on the same principles of positive identification and defense of alibi.
The details of this case analysis can be read at AHRC-STM-266-2010. This was also reported by the local media.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)