Abduction and illegal detention of former human rights worker in Cebu, Philippines

Account of Incident:

A local daily newspaper (The Freeman, 02/07/09, p.2) reported that Ramon Patriarca was "intercepted" by joint elements of the 78th Infantry Battalion and provincial police on February 5 (Thursday) in Consolacion, Cebu. The arrest was allegedly based on a warrant for Rebellion purportedly issued by Judge Enemecio of the Regional Trial Court in Danao City.

However, a check by Karapatan-Central Visayas reveals that Patriarca has no standing warrants in said court. There was also no return of warrant which means the victim was not presented to the court since his abduction.

Patriarca was former coordinator of the Research, Documentation and Information Program of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines-KARAPATAN-Central Visayas (TFD-KARAPATAN-CV).  The military claimed Patriarca is the deputy secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyonal ng Sentral Bisayas and a taxation officer of the New People's Army (NPA).

Upon the request of Patriarca's former colleagues at TFD-KARAPATAN-CV, KARAPATAN-CV staff sought him out at the headquarters of the AFP Central Command on February 7 (Saturday), but army personnel at the marshalls' office deny holding him.

The next day, Feb. 8 (Sunday), upon confirmation of KARAPATAN-CV of his detention at the CPPO, Patriarca's counsel, KARAPATAN-Cebu chair Alfonso Cinco, and KARAPATAN-CV staff proceeded to the said police camp.   However, CPPO chief Supt. Valmoria prevented him from conferring with his cousel.   This forced KARAPATAN-CV to hold a protest picket outside the camp at around 1PM.  KARAPATAN-CV also filed a Petition for the Writ of Amparo for Patriarca at the Regional Trial Court (RTC)-Branch 9 at about 4PM of the same day.

After hearing the petition, RTC Judge Geraldine Econg issued the writ and ordered the transfer of custody of Patriarca from the CPPO to the Prosecutors' Office.  Together with Atty. Cinco and KARAPATAN-CV staff, she  personally delivered the same to the police camp at about 6PM.  However,  she was blocked by a firetruck and it was only later that she was allowed to see Patriarca inside the camp.

On Feb. 9 (Monday), the CPPO and the 78th IB was forced to bring Patriarca to court at about 11am in the middle of the hearing for the writ of amparo.   During the proceedings, a handcuffed Patriarca raised his shirt to bare large dark patches and bruises in the lower abdomen below the waistline. He recounted to the court that he was subjected to "water cure", made to wear a diaper for 24-hours, his head wrapped in duct tape, and he was kicked and punched and threatened with greater harm.

A doctor, who physically examined Patriarca at the in court confirmed that Patriarca suffered bruises and diagnosed Patriarca to be suffering from acute stress disorder secondary to physical and psychological trauma.###