MANILA – Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III on Wednesday said there is no need to amend the Anti-Torture Law despite report from Amnesty International (AI) that torture and human rights violations remain a serious problem in the country.
”There is no need to amend the law. Actually it’s just the implementation, information dissemination, and enforcement of the law,” Pimentel said in media interview after the Senate hearing on AI’s report.
Pimentel stressed the need to remove the culture of impunity, particularly among the law enforcers, some of them have been tagged in the series of tortures and hazing in the military schools and police academy.
”The problem is our culture. We have law enforcement agencies that sometimes have culture of violence. Right in the recruitment, they are exposed to violence like hazing. So they thought what their superiors did, they can also do it,” Pimentel said.
”So it is important to eliminate the culture of impunity and replace it with culture of respect for human rights. If there is a culture of respect for human rights, automatically there will be no torture,” he said.
During the hearing, Department of Justice (DOJ) state counsel Herminia Natividad reported that out of the 93 filed cases from 2001 to 2014, a total of 55 have been validated as torture cases.
Natividad said the 55 cases of torture remain pending but “we’re very keen on addressing the matter” in close coordination with the Commission of Human Rights (CHR).
At the start of the hearing, Amnesty International Dir. Richard Bennet played a short video clip of a torture victim who related how he was beaten badly by two policemen in attempt to force him to admit an offense he never committed.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Legal Division Police Chief Supt. Jose Villarcorta said the PNP leadership will not tolerate their law enforcers to be involved in torture.
”Our PNP chief Director General Leonardo Espina has assured that we will not tolerate torture. Gen. Espina is a disciplinarian and he is very strict in prohibiting torture,” Villacorta said.
Pimentel said he will ask the PNP to submit complete report on their compliance with the Republic Act No. 9745 or Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
”I’m asking for the report from the PNP not only on the letter of the anti-torture law but also the spirit. What are their programs to improve respect of human rights within the organization,” Pimentel said.
Aside from Pimentel, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago also filed a Senate resolution seeking inquiry on the AI’s report on the country’s compliance on anti-torture laws and human rights violations.