Already there are 356 political detainees in the country, with 78 of them having been arrested on the orders of the Aquino administration’s armed and judicial forces. Almost half or 35 of them are women. Also 153 women have already fallen victim to extrajudicial killings since 2001, with six of them killed under the watch of the Benigno Aquino III administration.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
The Center for Women’s Research has once more taken up the cudgels for women political detainees and women victims of political repression and other forms of human rights violations.
According to the institution, 153 women have already fallen victim to extrajudicial killings since 2001, with six of them killed under the watch of the Benigno Aquino III administration.
Already there are 356 political detainees in the country, with 78 of them having been arrested on the orders of the Aquino administration’s armed and judicial forces. Almost half or 35 of them are women.
According to the CWR, women political prisoners suffer twice the violence experienced by their male counterparts.
“Women prisoners are more vulnerable to intimidation, sexual harassment and abuse, as well as torture. Former political prisoner Angie Ipong and the women members of the Morong 43 can attest to this,” it said.
A particularly harrowing case
Ipong’s case is particularly harrowing because those who arrested and detained her showed no compunction against violating her rights regardless of her sex and age. She was 60 years old when she was arrested without a warrant by armed men in Anastacia Mission Village, Lumbayao, Aloran, Misamis Occidental on March 2005 by Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) members.
She was brought to the bunker of the First Infantry (Tabak) Division at Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, held incommunicado, denied access to her relatives and counsel and blindfolded every now and then. She was continuously interrogated and physically abused while blindfolded. To protest her arrest and ill-treatment, she went on a hunger strike.
On the fourth day of her incarceration, she was blindfolded, led to a car and then made to ride a helicopter. It took around two hours to reach their destination which she reckoned to be the Southern Command (SouthCom) headquarters in Zamboanga City. She was then brought to an air-conditioned room with a microphone and black chain attached to the wall. She was denied access to a comfort room so she was forced to relieve herself in a glass jar. A man threatened her that she would rot in that room if she did not tell the truth. She was being forced to incriminate herself and when she refused, she was punched on the side of her body, hit on the head with a rolled-up paper and threatened with rape. The man also took all her personal effects.
Another man entered the room, removed her blindfold and interrogated her again before he left. An hour later, another man entered the room and blindfolded her again. Afterwards, three men came, tied her hands behind her and interrogated and tortured her again. They punched, beat and undressed her. Her undergarments were pulled down and they fondled and touched her private parts while interrogating her. She shouted for mercy and asked that she be treated with respect like their mothers and sisters but her torturers just laughed. She eventually lost consciousness.
When she came to, she was shivering because the air-conditioner was on full blast. It was under these conditions that she was forced to admit that she was a top ranking official of the of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
After six years of illegal detention, she was released in February 2011 after a regional trial court in Calamba dismissed the double murder, double frustrated murder, and arson charges against her. She is now the secretary general of the support group for political prisoners Samahan ng mga Ex?detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA)
The CWR in its report included the names and circumstances of political prisoners:
1.Tootsie Timtim from Negros. She was accused of being a member of the New People’s Army and she was arrested with her three-year old child.
2. Maria Luisa Purcray, a peace consultant from the Northern Mindanao region. She is currently detained in the Butuan City Jail.
3.Rowena Quilop, administrative officer ng Center for People’s Resources and Services in Bacolod City and board director of the Ma?ao Parish Multipurpose Cooperative Inc. She was arrested on March 3, 2011 and currently detained at the Negros Occidental Provincial Jail.
4.Moreta Alegre, a 65-year old farmer. She was arrested and thrown in jail with her child and husband on made-up charges of murder. She was arrested for having joined protests against landgrabbing. She is currently detained at the Correctional Institution for Women.
5.Maricon Montajes, a 21-year old film student from the University of the Philippines. She was arrested on June 2010 while taking part in a community immersion program in Batangas. She is currently detained at the Batangas Provincial Jail.
6.Gloria Floresca, 57, and a former organizer of the women’s group Gabriela in La Union. She was illegally arrested on false charges of rebellion and currently detained at the Ilocos Sur Provincial Jail.
7. Marilyn Badayos?Condes, 42, arrested in June 2011 on rebellion charges. Based on reports, she was wounded on the shoulder during the arrest but she was not given any medical attention. She is currently detained at the Dumaguete City Jail.
8. JovelynTawa?ay, a Lumad Manobo; she was a former youth activist.
9 . Lucy Canda, arrested in 2006. She is currently detained at the Correctional Institution for Women.
10.Charity Diño, 29, a former teacher turned peasant organizer. She was illegally arrested while inviting community residents to join activities for urban poor week in 2009. She was tortured and is currently detained at the Batangas Provincial Jail.
11. Cirila Estrada, a 49-year old farmer. She was a volunteer of the Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (Pamanggas), an alliance of farmers in Panay at Guimaras .
12. Felicidad Caparal, arrested in January 2009 in Lavezares, Northern Samar. She was an organizer of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.
According to the human rights groups, most political detainees are charged with crimes they did not commit such as murder, illegal possession of explosives at robbery. According to SELDA, 303 or 84.17 percent of all political detainees have been charged with common crimes cases.
Human rights violations from July-September 2011
As of September 2011, the CWR using data from Karapatan Monitor 3rd Quarter (July-September 2011) and other information from Tanggol Bayi, Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party, the CWR said that besides the 55 victims of extrajudicial killings, there have been eight victims of enforced disappearance; 41 victims of torture; 20 of frustrated extrajudicial killing; 151 of illegal arrest without detention; 95 of illegal search and seizure; 60 of physical Assault and Injury 60; and 6,108 in demolitions.
Karapatan’s record also included cases and numbers of victims of violation of domicile (216 victims); destruction of properties ( 5,401); divestment of property 171; forced evacuation (4,224); threat/harassment/intimidation ( 10,811); indiscriminate firing (5,047); forced/fake surrender ( 32); and forced labor/involuntary servitude ( 33) .
All these were recorded from July to September alone. Perpetrators named were elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), its auxiliary forces, and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP). These forces were also noted to have behind cases wherein civilians were used in operations as guides and/or shields (where there were 16 victims); in the use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purpose ( 10,077 victims); and in the restriction or violent dispersal of mass gatherings (803 victims).