UPDATE (Philippines): More charges filed against police, military and militias involved in torture of 11 persons in Benguet 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-137-2006
ISSUES: Torture,

[RE: UA-082-2006: PHILIPPINES: Brutal torture of 11 persons and the subsequent filing of fabricated charges against them; UP-063-2006: PHILIPPINES: Lawyers for 11 torture victims file motion to withdraw charges against them; UP-067-2006: PHILIPPINES: Torture victims file charges against policemen; UP-092-2006: PHILIPPINES: Plot to kill torture victims in jail; UP-099-2006: PHILIPPINES: Jail authorities’ failing to ensure adequate security despite grave danger torture victims are facing; UP-100-2006: PHILIPPINES: Further details on plot to kill torture victims; UP-115-2006: PHILIPPINES: Two minor torture victims released from jail; court rules the arrest of 11 victims as illegal]
UP-137-2006: PHILIPPINES: More charges filed against police, military and militias involved in torture of 11 persons in Benguet

PHILIPPINES: Illegal arrest and detention; torture; unlawful treatment of minors; filing of fabricated charges by way of torture; complete collapse of rule of law

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that another charge have already been filed against the police, military and militiamen involved in the arrest and subsequent brutal torture of 11 persons in Buguias, Benguet on 14 February 2006. Charges of arbitrary arrest and detention have been filed against them on June 28 at the Benguet Prosecutor’s Office in La Trinidad, Benguet.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) reported that in addition to the previous charges filed against six police officers on March 31, a police general, military men, members of an armed militia–Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU)–and other John Does have now been included in the new complaint filed. It was (Police) General Villamor Bumanglag, provincial director of the Benguet Provincial Police Office (BPPO) who is among the new respondents. The six policemen earlier charged were his men (Please see our previous appeal: UP-067-2006).

The complaint against the six policemen has already been endorsed by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office. It is within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman to hear criminal charges against policemen with a rank of Colonel and General. One of who was Police Superintendent Brent Madjaco, head of the 1604th Police Provincial Mobile Group in Benguet, whose rank was equivalent to that of a colonel.

Aside from the criminal charges, the progress is made on the administrative charges filed against the same policemen before the National Police Commission (Napolcom). The summary hearing for the administrative complaints is set for July 20 and 21 at the regional office of the Napolcom in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

Although there is progress on the complaints and charges against the alleged perpetrators, some of the torture victims still remain in La Trininad Provincial Jail. In our previous appeal we have reported the release of two of the detainees’ minor colleagues (Please see our previous appeal: UP-115-2006). The nine others, however, have remained in jail. Despite a court ruling declaring the arrest illegal, it was not used as basis to declare the subsequent proceedings void. As a result, the policemen re-filed the charges of robbery with homicide against the 11 victims to the prosecutor’s office. The arraignment for the re-filed case is set for July 7, but the victims’ counsel is seeking to a postponement.  They are petitioning to conduct of reinvestigation of the case filed.

Eleven victims, including two minor that were mentioned in our previous appeal were not only brutalized by the police and military, but were also forced to admit that they were the members of a rebel group and were responsible for the raid of the military camp in Cabiten, Mankayan, Benguet on 10 February 2006. (Please see our previous appeal for details of this case: UA-082-2006).


Police and military operations in the Philippines often lead to abuses of authority, in which armed militia–the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and Civilian Volunteers Orgasanition (CVO)– were known to be involved. Both the CAFGU and CVO are not enlisted as official police nor the armed forces, yet the government has not yet taken action to dismantle them.

In recent times, there have been reports of increasing abuses by armed militias. On June 28, it was CAFGU members who first attacked rebel positions in the remote areas of Maguindanao, Mindanao, which led to the on-ongoing fighting. Although CAFGU members are prohibited from engaging in the armed conflict, they usually took part in military and police operations, that is why thousands of villagers have already been displaced. (Please see our previous appeal: UA-216-2006).

Abuses by CAFGU have also been reported in a number of instances. For example, on 24 November 2005, a motorcycle driver associated with Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS)-Tribal Filipino Ministry in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, Mindanao was shot by a CAFGU member. On 9 December 2005, another CAFGU member publicly threatened to kill a community leader if he continued his work with the Ministry. On 22 January 2006, yet another CAFGU member threatened a civilian at gunpoint because he was connected with some religious sisters who were managing the Ministry. Had it not been for the intervention of a bystander he would not have been freed. (Please see our previous appeal: UA-057-2006)


Please write letters to the concerned agencies below requesting immediate responses to ensure that both the criminal and administrative charges filed against the respondents are resolved with urgency. It is essential that these cases be promptly handled by the prosecutor’s office, ombudsman and the police commission in order for the case to progress in court and quasi-judicial bodies. The court must also consider dropping there-filed charges by the police against the victims or grant the victim’s petition for a reinvestigation. Considering that there are allegations that the confession and evidence taken from the victims, which was used by the police in filing charges against them, were taken by way of torture the court must act on this accordingly before continuing to any proceedings. It is totally unacceptable to prosecute persons whose charges stemmed from fabricated charges and torture.

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Dear ___________,

PHILIPPINES: More charges filed against police, military and militias involved in torture of 11 persons in Benguet

Name of victims still in jail:
1. Rundren Berloize Lao (24) of Gerona, Tarlac.
2. Anderson Alonzo (18) of Calinan, Davao City
3. Aldoz Christian Manoza (18) of Sampaloc St., Santolan, Pasig City
4. Ron Pandino (20) of Barangay Mayatba, Siniloan, Laguna
5. Jethro Villagracia (21) of Calinan, Davao City
6. Neil Russel Balajadia (25) of No. 026 Tawiran St., Santolan, Pasig City
7. Darwin Alagar (21) of Barangay Tipuso, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan
8. Arvie Nunez (21) of Barangay Silangang Mayao, Lucena City
9. Jefferson dela Rosa (20) of No. 211 A.M. De Leon St., Santolan, Pasig City
All of them are presently detained in a jail in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Name of minor victims released to their parent’s custody:
1. Frencess Ann Bernal (15) of Calumpang, Marikina City
2. Ray Lester Mendoza (16) of Blk. 157 Lot 32 San Francisco St., Barangay Rizal, Makati City
Name of persons charged: General Villamor Bumanglag, provincial director of the Benguet Provincial Police Office (BPPO); Police Superintendent Brent Madjaco, head of the 1604th Police Provincial Mobile Group (PPMG) and his men; and unidentified military agents and Cafgu members

It has come to my attention that the 11 persons, who were arrested and subsequently tortured by the police and military men on 14 February 2006, have filed another criminal charges before the Benguet Prosecutor’s Office on June 28. In the new complaint, the victims charged the police and military officials for arbitrary arrest and detention. As you are aware, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in La Trinidad, Benguet had already ruled on May 19 that the arrest of the 11 victims was illegal.

While I appreciate the progress made on this case, I am deeply concerned that the prosecutor’s office may further delay in resolving this new complaint of arbitrary arrest and detention. I am aware that prior to the filing of this complaint, on March 31 the victims had also filed for violation of Republic Act 7438 against the same respondents. No formal charges have yet been filed against them in court. It is reported that the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office have yet to act on the recommendation made by the prosecutor’s office. Only until the Ombudsman takes action to the recommendation of the prosecutors the case will make progress in court.

Also, the administrative case filed with the regional office of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) is also dragging at their office. The Commission has yet to commence its summary hearing of the administrative complaint that the victims also filed on July 20 and 21, despite a long hiatus between its original complaint filed to them. The delay to resolve the case on part of the Commission and Ombudsman is seriously affecting this case. I am deeply concerned this situation may prolong unless acted upon while the victims remained in jail.

I am deeply concerned that charges of robbery with homicide, which was re-filed by the policemen against the 11 victims, after the court’s ruling that the 14 February 2006 arrest and detention of the victims was illegal could be a mere rehash. I am extremely disappointed that the victims’ allegations that the confession and evidence taken from them by way of torture, which the police used prosecuting them, have not been acted upon. To my understanding, the succeeding proceeding–filing of the case–should have been subsequently declared as null and void as the arrest have already been declared illegal. I therefore urged the court, to consider these circumstances in their future deliberation.

I urged your appropriate intervention to ensure that the complaints the victims filed to the prosecutors’ office, ombudsman and the police commission are acted upon promptly. I believed that you would completely agree that promptness to resolve these cases is very essential. Please also request the prosecutor’s office in Benguet to consider dropping the charges of robbery with homicide against the victims re-filed by the police considering given the court’s ruling. If this cannot be done, please request the court to consider approving the victim’s petition for reinvestigation. Reinvestigation is necessary in order that the allegations of torture are dealt with accordingly.

Additionally, please request the concerned government agencies, in particular the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to considering dismantling the armed militias they are utilizing–Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU). The utilization of Cafgu had already resulted to abuses. In this case, CAFGU members had been accused of taking part in the illegal arrest and detention. The government must send a strong message against the use of this force.

I trust that you will take action on this case.

Yours sincerely,



1. Mr. Ronaldo V. Puno
National Police Commission (Napolcom)
A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
Quezon City
Voice: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
Fax: +63 2 925 0332
Email: rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph

2. Mrs. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta
Chief, Public Attorney Office (PAO)
DOJ Agencies Building,
NIA Road East Avenue
1104 Quezon City
Tel. No. +63 2 929 9010 / 9436
Fax No. +63 2 927 6810 / 926 2878
Email: chiefacosta@edsamail.com.ph

3. Director General Oscar Calderon
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
Tel: +63 2726 4361/4366/8763
Fax: +63 2724 8763

4. Atty. Jocelyn Castillo
Regional Director, Commission on Human Rights
Cordillera Administrative Region
3rd floor SSS Baguio Branch Bldg., Harrison Road
2600 Baguio City
Tel: +63 074 619 9088/ 074 619 9089

5. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Department of Justice
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
Email: sechbp@infocom.com.ph

6. Ms. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Email: drpvq@yahoo.com

7. Mr. Orlando Casimiro
Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and
Other Law Enforcement Offices
3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road
Diliman (1104) Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 926 9032
Fax: +63 2 926 7572
Email: omb1@ombudsman.gov.ph

8. Professor Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr.Safir Syed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
E-mail: ssyed@ohchr.orgtb-petitions@ohchr.org

9. Mr. Leandro Despouy
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Attn: Sonia Cronin
Room: 3-060
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9160
E-mail: scronin@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-137-2006
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Torture,