SELDA statement on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture


SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture with renewed calls for a stop to torture, for justice for all victims and survivors of this abominable crime and for the release of all political prisoners, many of whom are living examples that torture persists in this country under the Marcos Jr. regime.

Cebu-based labor activist Ernesto Jude Rimando went to Manila in 2020 to seek treatment for liver cirrhosis and sepsis. But before he could commence treatment, he was arrested on January 6, 2021 in his rented apartment in Quezon City by six armed men in plain clothes who failed to present a warrant and refused to identify themselves. Despite his physical condition, the men, who were later identified as operatives of the PNP-CIDG, blindfolded, tortured and interrogated Rimando on the spot and only stopped when a neighbor heard the commotion.

Rimando’s condition has considerably worsened under detention. His liver cirrhosis has progressed to Stage 4 liver cancer. He also suffers from tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has recently contracted pneumonia. He is currently fighting for his life at the Philippine General Hospital.

On April 13, 2019, two youth activists, Kadamay member John Griefen Arlegui, 20, and Anakbayan member Reynaldo Remias, Jr., 24, were accosted at gunpoint between 10 and 11 a.m. while posting posters of senatorial aspirant Neri Colmenares and partylist group Bayan Muna along Angat-Pandi Road in Bulacan. They were tortured and kept incommunicado before being surfaced at a police station in Bulacan. They are currently detained at the Bulacan Provincial Jail facing trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Rocky Torres and Avellardo Avellanida, both from the Dumagat tribe, were beaten up by elements of the 80th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army after they were chanced upon in Umiray, Infanta, Quezon on May 14, 2018. The soldiers tortured Torres and Avellanida into admitting that they were members of the New People’s Army and hogtied them with the corpse of a military officer killed in a previous encounter.

Human rights workers who later came to see them found that they bore marks of torture like bruises and lumps all over their bodies. They are currently detained at the Metro Manila District Jail in Bicutan, Taguig City on trumped-up charges of murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Due to the harsh conditions of their unjust detention, they have contracted tuberculosis.

In Philippine prisons and detention facilities, torture is a daily occurrence. Inmates suffer due to the high rates of congestion, poor quality of food and difficult access to drinking water and sanitation facilities, which often lead to physical illnesses and mental health problems. Prison officials also impose impossibly high standards before a detainee could be brought to hospital during medical emergencies, thus depriving detainees of their basic right to medical care even under life-threatening conditions. In detention facilities housing those still undergoing trial, punishment is already being meted before conviction because of the harsh conditions suffered by detainees. Political prisoners have it worse because they are unjustly detained and do not deserve to stay a minute longer in jail.

Selda demands a stop to the pernicious practice of torture, whether in its obvious form or through the slow deaths and the loss of dignity suffered in congested prisons. It demands justice for all victims of torture and unjust detention and the release of all political prisoners.