Missing activist in Cagayan Valley abducted, tortured

MANILA, September 23, 2009—The TANGGULAN Youth Network for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (TANGGULAN) denies the claim of the Commission on Human Rights-Cagayan Valley (CHR-CV) and the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) that surfaced activist Noriel Rodriguez was not abducted by military men, as earlier reported but was a rebel returnee.

Rodriguez, 26, a peasant organizer in Cagayan Valley, was abducted last September 6 by military men and had been two weeks missing, until he was found in a military camp in Alcala town, in CV, last September 17.

In a statement sent to CBCPNews by Ma. Cristina Angela Guevarra, national chair of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) and the spokesperson of TANGGULAN said Rodriguez was heavily tortured for 10 days.

“10 days of darkness”

“Piniringan uli nila ako at may pumasok halos 4 na sundalo. Tinakpan ng sabay-sabay ang kanan tainga ko at ang bibig habang hinihipan ang kaliwa kong tainga gamit ang straw. Ginawa nila ito ng halos 30 minuto (They have again blindfolded me and four soldiers entered the room. They had my right ear and mouth covered, while blowing my left ear using a straw. They’ve done that for 30 minutes),” states Rodriguez’s affidavit as provided by TANGGULAN.

He said that his tormentors were forcing him to admit that he is an NPA (New People’s Army).

“Dahil hindi ko naman alam ang mga tinatanong nila kaya hindi ako sumasagot. Tapos, tinutukan ako ng kalibre .45 sa likod ng ulo ko. Sabi ng tumutok sa akin “Papatayin kita at pamilya mo. Pero hindi pa rin ako nagsasalita pero sobrang kinakabahan na ako at natatakot ako dahil binantaan nila pati pamilya ko… Mula sa unahang upuan ay hinatak ako nila sa gitna ng sasakyan at binugbog ng grabe (Because I don’t know what they are querying about, I didn’t answer [their questions]. Later, one of them pointed a .45 caliber pistol at the back of my head. The one who pointed the gun at me said “I’ll kill you and your family!” But I didn’t respond, though I was really scared and I fear for my family’s safety because they’ve already threaten to kill my family. From the front seat [of the vehicle we’re riding] they dragged me and have beaten me in the middle of the vehicle),” Rodriguez narrated on his affidavit.

“Buong araw nila akong tinatadyakan at sinusuntok. Dalawang tao ang bumugbog sa akin at galit na galit dahil pinagod ko daw ang mga sundalo sa operasyon daw nila at ipinipilit pa rin nila na ituro ko daw ang kampo ng NPA. Paulit-ulit nila akong sinusuntok sa tagiliran, panga, at panay din akong tinatadyakan (The whole day, they were kicking and punching me. Two men were hitting me and they were furious for making me just waste their operation and they forced me to pinpoint where the NPA camp was. They repeatedly punched me on the side, jabbing me, and they also repeatedly kicked me).

“Nung araw ding iyon, hindi ko na matandaan ang oras, ay pumasok ang 3 sundalo at kinukuhanan ako ng larawan gamit ang isang cellphone nila habang pilit na pinapapirmahan ang isang papel na ang nakasaad ay surenderee ako sa laban nila sa Cumao at hindi daw nila ako binaril dahil asset nila ako nung Mayo pa. Ayaw kong pumirma at binugbog nila ako ng 1 oras kaya sa sakit ay napilitan akong pumirma (That same day, I can’t remember what time, there came three soldiers and they had me photographed using their mobile phone while forcing me to sign a paper that I am a surrenderee, that they’ve caught me while in encounter in Cumao, and that they didn’t shoot me for I was their asset since May. I din’t want to sign but they beat me again for an hour; because it hurts so much, I’ve signed it).

“Pinafinger print nila ako sa isang papel na surenderee daw ako. Nung ayaw ko ay binigti nila ako, tinalian ang leeg ko at inaangat ang lubid na nylon na yellow ng 1 sundalo habang pinipigil naman ng 1 sundalo na nakahawak sa likuran ko ang pagaangat ng torso (They fingerprinted me in a paper [that certifies] that I am a surrenderee. When I refused, they hanged me: They’ve put a yellow nylon rope around my neck; one soldier pulled the cord, the other held my torso,” Rodriguez’s statement further read.

CHR-PA ‘cover-up’

Meanwhile, Noriel’s brother, Rodel said that his family and the search team, composed by human rights’ advocates, has searched for Noriel in a sub-detachment of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) in San Jose, Cagayan on September 15 but did not find him there.

He said, the soldiers told them to look for him at the Army’s main detachment in Alcala.

The Rodriguezes went to the CHR office in Tuguegarao and during their dialogue with the CHR officials, they have found out that Noriel was really in the custody of the 17th IBPA in Alcala.

As they were inside the Alcala camp, Rodel said he noticed that the CHR officials who accompanied him and his mother, Wilma, were insinuating that Noriel has voluntarily surrendered and that he was not abducted.

He also said, even after leaving the military camp, the CHR forced Noriel to sign documents certifying that he is a rebel surenderee.
Like Melissa Roxas’s case

On the other hand, Guevarra said that the pattern of abduction and torture of Noriel was similar to Mellissa Roxas’s case.

Roxas is the Filipina-American who was also abducted by the military and was tortured too, physically and psychologically.

“The Rodriquez family was traumatized and now fears that the military might get back at them since the military who abducted Noriel even entered their home in Sta. Ana, Manila and took pictures of everything in their house. The military captors also gave a souvenir for Noriel, a sim card and Nokia phone and three hundred pesos just like what they did to Melissa Roxas,” explained Guevarra.

The TANGGULAN, moreover, said they will support Rodriguez if his family seeks to file a writ of amparo for his safety before the Court of Appeals, as well as criminal charges against elements of the PA for the unlawful arrest, illegal detention and torture of Rodriguez.

Now, says Guevarra, Noriel is recovering from stress and torture marks. Human rights doctor and group KARAPATAN had also visited him and given support to the family. (CBCPNews.com)

Another version of this story was published at the Dateline Philippines’s website.