PHILIPPINES: The innocent civilians were arbitrary attested and assaulted by the soldiers


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-37-2002
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention,

PHILIPPINES: Arbitrary arrest and assault by soldiers


– Name of victims:

1. Mr. Alex Colonia, 32, married, driver and a resident of Sitio Guinhabitan, Brgy. Bactas, Catmon, Cebu, Philippines

2. Mr. Vicente Garo Jr., 21, single, unemployed and a resident of Duterte St., Brgy. Suba, Danao City, Philippines

3. About 30 unidentified men who engage in buying and selling

– Place of incident: Brgy. Pansoy, Sogod, Cebu, Philippines

– Date of incident: Aug. 15, 2002

– The alleged perpetrators: Members of the 78th infantry battalion of the Philippine army based in Sogod, Cebu, Philippines, under the command of Lt. Col. Jonas Sumagaysay


On Aug. 15, 2002, the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed a police team in Brgy. Pansoy, Sogod, Cebu, Philippines, injuring two policemen and one civilian. Immediately members of the 78th infantry battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. Jonas Sumagaysay, set up checkpoints in the area to block the fleeing rebels.

Mr. Alex Colonia, one of the victims, claimed that he went to Brgy. Pansoy to fetch his mother-in-law because an SSS check had just arrived at the municipal hall and would not be released without her signature.

On their way to Poblacion, they were warned that there was an ambush near their barangay and that it was not safe to leave the place where they lived because the soldiers were still looking for the rebels. They ignored their friend’s warning though and even managed to hitch a ride on the vehicle of an acquaintance who was buying pigs in the Pansoy market.

Upon arriving at the ambush site, they were stopped by a group of heavily armed soldiers who searched their vehicle without presenting a search warrant. Then one of the soldiers grabbed Colonia and punched him in the chest. The soldier also reportedly barked, “You are a bully!” and punched his stomach.

All the passengers in their vehicle were made to face the wall of the cliff and raise their hands in the air. Colonia claimed that all the vehicles that passed that road that day were searched and their passengers had to undergo the same ordeal. They thought that they would be shot by the soldiers because some of them chambered their weapons and suddenly stamped their boots on the ground. Colinia said that he saw the same soldier punch and choke an unidentified man from Danao City.

At 4:00 p.m., they were brought to the police station in Poblacion, Sogod, and were released two hours later. No charges were filed against them.

Colonia estimates that about 30 people were forced to stand in the rain and raise their hands in the air while the soldiers checked their identification cards.

Vicente Garo Jr., who was also physically assaulted by the soldiers, said that he accompanied his brother-in-law to Brgy. Pansoy since it was market day to purchase pigs and other livestock.

He said that on their way home their vehicle was also stopped by a group of soldiers. One of them suddenly choked him and asked him about the location of the rebels’ firearms. Garo almost fainted during the incident. The soldier then slapped him on the head and tackled him to the ground.

They were also ordered to face the wall of the cliff while the soldiers checked their identification cards. A councilor of barangay Sogod reportedly arrived at the checkpoint and vouched for the identities of the other victims, who are residents of this municipality. Ten of them who are not from Sogod were brought to the police station and were released at 6:00 p.m. through the intervention of Mayor Deo Durano.

Garo added that he was not able to identify the perpetrators because they covered their nameplates with a piece of cloth. They learned later that the suspects are members of the 78th infantry battalion.


Please send appeals to the president of the Philippines, the secretary of the Dept. of National Defense and the commanding general of the Philippine army to express your concern about this arbitrary arrest and physical assault of innocent civilians by Philippine soldiers and to urge them to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.



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



I have learned that Alex Colonia, Vicente Garo Jr. and about 30 other unidentified innocent civilians living in the area of Pansoy, Sogod, Cebu, in the Philippines were arbitrary arrested and physically assaulted by Philippine soldiers during counterinsurgency operations on Aug. 15, 2002. I am concerned about these incidents as similar or even more severe incidents will take place during military operations in your country and that these incidents reflect the Philippine army’s lack of respect for the human rights of civilians.

I urge you to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators from the 78th infantry battalion of the Philippine army who were engaged in this incident so that there is justice for the victims and to prevent further attacks on civilians. Furthermore, I would like to urge you and the leaders of the National Democratic Front, or NDF, to conduct an immediate cease-fire and to resolve the issues that divide you through negotiations rather than violence.

I look forward to learning about your positive response to my requests.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Yours truly,



1. Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President, Republic of the Philippines

New Executive Building

Malacanang Palace Compound

J. P. Laurel St.

San Miguel, Manila


Fax: +63 2 929 3968

E-mail: or

2. Lt. Gen. Jaime S. De los Santos

Commanding General, Philippine Army

Fort Bonifacio, 1201 Makati City


Fax: +63 2 813 1811

3. Mr. Angelo Reyes

Secretary, Department of National Defense

Camp Gen. Emelio Aguinaldo

Quezon City



Also send a copy of your letter to:

Ms. Valera Quisumbing

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Building, UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City


Fax: +632 929 0102


Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-37-2002
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention,