How many years more? | Torture survivors urge Ombudsman to act on raps against military

“The cases, filed as early as 2008, have been gathering dust in the records of the Ombudsman, which has shown nary a hint of interest or resolve in investigating criminal and ethical violations by top military brass down the line.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – For more than four years, justice has remained elusive for Raymond Manalo.

For the fourth time, Raymond went to the Office of the Ombudsman, June 20, to urge the said office to act on the criminal and administrative charges he filed against retired general Jovito Palparan Jr., retired. Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, and other members of the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion during the period 2006 to 2007.

In his affidavit, Manalo said he and his brother Reynaldo were taken by elements of the 24th IB from their home in Buhol na Mangga village, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, on Feb. 14, 2006. They were subjected to various forms of physical torture. The Manalo brothers were able to escape on Aug. 13, 2007. In Sept. 12, 2008, Manalo filed charges of kidnapping, arbitrary detention, physical injuries, threats, involuntary servitude, and torture against his military captors. He also filed administrative complaints for gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, gross oppression and for acts unbecoming of a public official.

In a previous Bulatlat.com story, Manalo recounted the horrors they endured, “Our heads were forcibly submerged in water;our hands were hit with hammers; we were clubbed with wood 2inches wide by 2 inches thick, we had hot water and gasoline poured on us; we were whipped at the back with barbed wire and chains.”

Raymond and another torture survivor, Oscar Leuterio, filed their respective motion to resolve the cases before the Office of the Ombudsman, June 20.

Leuterio, together with his three companions, was abducted by military personnel on April 17, 2006 Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan. He was brought to Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan and eventually to Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. He was released by the military after he pretended to cooperate with them.

On Nov. 16, 2006, Leuterio filed torture, physical injuries, threats, involuntary solitude, arbitrary detention, among others against Palparan, retired Maj. Gen. Juanito Gomez, Lt. Col Manuel Clement, 2nd Lt. Ferdinand Basas and four others. On August 22, 2008, the Ombudsman dismissed Leuterio’s complaint. He filed a motion for reconsideration on January 2, 2012. After two years, no resolution has been issued by the Ombudsman.

Lawyer Julian Oliva Jr. of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said, “If justice delayed is justice denied, then the long-drawn cases of Raymond Manalo and Oscar Leuterio for kidnapping, arbitrary detention, torture, and other crimes committed by soldiers and para-military forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. are apt, but sorry, examples.” Oliva added, “The cases, filed as early as 2008, have been gathering dust in the records of the Ombudsman, which has shown nary a hint of interest or resolve in investigating criminal and ethical violations by top military brass down the line.”

Raymond and Leuterio had hoped Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales would resolve their cases. In fact, the two filed their respective first motion to resolve their complaints after Morales was installed as Ombudsman on July 29, 2011.

In a statement, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairwoman of human rights group Karapatan, echoed the same sentiment. “We had our hope that when Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales took the place of Merceditas Gutierrez, the victims of human rights violations will get justice. But with the Ombudsman’s decision to junk the fertilizer fund graft case against Gloria Arroyo, Raymond Manalo and Oscar Leuterio’s cases against the Arroyo generals became dim.” Arroyo is a former President of the Philippines charged with plunder.

“Our hope gets even dimmer with so many years of waiting without any progress on these cases,” she said.

Vital witnesses, too

Both Raymond and Leuterio testified in court that the military abducted University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

In his affidavit, Raymond provided a harrowing tale of how soldiers tortured and raped the two UP students who were abducted on June 26, 2006.

The testimonies of Raymond, Leuterio and several other witnesses bolstered the charges filed by the mothers of Empeño and Cadapan against Palparan.

A Bulacan court issued a warrant of arrest against Palparan and his men in December 2011 but the retired general has not been captured to this day. ()

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