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CHR chair says torture ‘prevails up to now’ in PHL

Just like in the United States, torture allegedly committed by authorities on suspects or prisoners “prevails up to now” in the Philippines, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Etta Rosales said Thursday.

“Hindi nila naaalis pa rin ang torture,” Rosales said in an interview on GMA News TV's “News To Go.” “Yung torture, nagaganap 'yan panaka-naka sa ilang mga detention cells.”

Rosales' statement echoed the recent report by international human rights group Amnesty International, which said incidences of torture remain prevalent in the Philippines, and that most of the perpetrators are police officers.

It also came amid the recent report released by the US Senate regarding the alleged government-sanctioned torture of suspected terrorists by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents.

“Yung report na ito, concludes that not only was the CIA torture program morally wrong, it was also ineffective. This underscores the importance of upholding the legal prohibition on torture under international human rights law,” Rosales said, referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A former torture victim herself during the Martial Law years, Rosales admitted that the CHR needs to be more aggressive in its campaign, particularly in seeking supposed torture dens.

Similar to the US, which may not see prosecution despite the report, Rosales said local police arrested on torture charges will not receive convictions unless the country's judicial system changes.

“Yung judicial process kung saan naimbestigahan mo na, naaresto mo na, pero papano yung sa trial- dapat mabilis ito, with this batch. Kaya, ang judicial court system, dito ang problema, na napakabagal,” she said.

She said preventive suspension like that slapped on Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima should be a standard, as it is a “preventive measure” against “undue influences” while a case is ongoing.

Despite all of this, Rosales said the contents of the US Senate report was completely unsurprising and lauded Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and her committee for it. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News