8 peasant organizers and their driver abducted. Detained and tortured in Camp Vicente Lim, Canlubang, Laguna, Philippines

At about 3:10 in the morning of 31 August 2008, eight peasant organizers left Tartaria, Silang, Cavite where they had previously attended a consultation of peasants in preparation for the annual Peasant Month of October.

They have boarded a yellow utility vehicle called "multicab" (short for multi-purpose cab) that is driven by Mario Joson. They were traveling from Brgy. Tartaria, Silang, Cavite towards Nasugbu, Batangas.

They were expected to arrive in an hour or so in Tagaytay, but they did not reach their destination and their cellular phones could not be contacted, prompting their families and colleagues to call for help.

The provincial office of Karapatan in Batangas has received the report that the eight peasant activists and their driver have not reached their destination and were feared abducted.

By 9:30 AM of the same day, a Quick Reaction Team was organized by Karapatan and they accompanied some relatives of the missing persons to Camp Pantaleon, the provincial office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Imus, Cavite.  The police denied having custody of the nine persons and denied having knowledge of the incident.

On September 1, 2008, the team went to the PNP's Regional Office in Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna and found that the nine victims are being detained there.

According to the victims, when they reached Baranggay Lumil, the village next to Tartaria, they saw a police patrol car that is parked along the road.   They then noticed that a van was following their vehicle.  



By the time they reached Brgy. Pasong Langka, their vehicle was cut-in by a car.  They were forced to stop.  Armed men ordered them to alight from the multicab.



Their hands were tied.  Their mouths and eyes were muffled by packaging tapes. They were first brought to a place near the site where they were abducted.  Then they were hauled into a vehicle and were given a round up until they were brought to what they believed was a safehouse where they underwent torture and interrogation.



Renato complained that he was hit in the chest when he won't answer questions.  Mario was beaten up and his hand and arm were twisted.   Jomel was likewise beaten up and sustained wounds from being tied.



Janice was hanged up side down and was being made to admit that she is a member of the New People's Army (NPA) guerilla.  When she would not admit the accusations, her captors pointed a gun at her nape, hit her on the head and knees with a dipper and she was threatened that if she would not talk, her colleague Neshley would be raped.



Neshley was shoved in a toilet where she was strangled and threatened at gunpoint.



Franco's nipples and testicles were squeezed when he would not answer questions.  His ears were stapled.



Bernie was electrocuted on the head and on his privates, a hard object was inserted in his penis and a plastic bag was placed over his head.



Felix was also electrocuted and his head was immersed in a drum full of water.  He was asked to dig a grave for himself and was wounded on his thigh with a sharp object.  Because he could no longer bear the pain being inflicted upon him, he was forced to just admit to all accusations against him.  He was isolated from the group and the soldiers brought him to an operation to serve as their "guide."



While in blindfold, they were forced to sign a document and photographs of them were taken. They slept on the cold concrete floor while their hands were tied.



It was on 1 September 2008 that their blindfolds were removed.  It was only on this day that they were fed with some soup.  The victims's families were able to see them in detention at the headquarters of the Regional Special Operation Group inside Camp Vicente Lim at 1:00PM.  It was the first time the eight victims saw each other.  Felix was not with them as he was taken to the Crime Investigation Detention Group (CIDG).



On 2 September 2008, at about 2 PM, a release order issued by the Provincial Chief Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco was received at the police headquarters. According to the order, there is no sufficient basis against the 9 victims charged with illegal possession of firearms and therefore should be set free.