Congressional Inquiry on Human Rights

Statement on the On-site Hearing of the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives 11 October, 2012, Provincial Capitol, Cebu City

Just as the commemoration of the 40th year of declaration of Martial Law was winding down, the people of Central Visayas were slapped with the resounding reality that all is not well in this benighted parts of the land.

On October 5, 2012, a couple of former activists were abducted in a typical Martial-Law manner just as they were going home from work at about 5:30PM along a busy highway in Subangdaku, Mandaue City. Jimmylisa Badayos and Calixto Vistal were assaulted by elements of the AFP-Military Intelligence Group and PNP-City intelligence Branch almost as soon as they stepped out of the gates of Euroforrest Industries, Inc. and forcibly dumped into a waiting vehicle in broad public view.

They were taken to Camp Sotero Cabahug for a 4-hour tactical interrogation without the assistance of a counsel, a practice that would be repeated for days to follow in spite of protestations from the victims’ lawyers.

The AFP and PNP would justify their actions by planting evidence and filing trumped up charge against the victims whom they would misrepresent as NPA commanders. Such brazen assaults encapsulate the recent human rights situation in Central Visayas.

Anyone could be arrested, tortured, and detained on mere allegations and trumped up cases. It has happened before against Ramon Patriarca, a peace consultant of the NDF, who was assaulted by AFP-PNP elements in Consolacion, Cebu in 2009.

It has happened during the mass arrests of farmers in Aloguinsan, Carmen, and Tuburan. It has happened during the dispersal of protesting urban poor families whose homes were demolished in Sitio Tayong and Marygrace in Talamban, Cebu City and in Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City.

Yet, in all these cases, government agencies were quick to declare regularity in the conduct of government personnel with Major Christopher Tampus even congratulating his troops for the abduction of Badayos and Vistal.

It is thus unsurprising that they would not find anything unconstitutional in the conduct of the AFP-3rd Civil Relations Group in compelling teachers to attend counter-insurgency seminars through DepEd-7 memos. They would also find it “normal” for the AFP to recruit and organize spies, mostly minors, within campuses to infiltrate student organizations, like LFS in UP-Visayas, Cebu Campus.

This situation is reminiscent of Martial Law era when protests are repressed and criticism is suspect. It makes one wonder if Martial Law has ever left with Marcos at all.###

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